It is finally over even though Stoops left two chips on the table. Instead of signing 25, the Cats signed 23, including the two Nebraska transfers. If you watched the live streaming from UK Athletics, you know that Stoops is very pleased with the class. On the surface, Kentucky’s recruiting results have dropped off compared to the 2013 and 2014 classes.
According to our Rivals ranking, that is true. In 2013, Kentucky finished up at # 29 and last year we finished at # 17. Our 35th place this year, tells you that recruiting didn't go as well as in the last two years. The fact is that our Rivals rank is 13th in the conference, only ahead of Vanderbilt .
We all know that, or we should all know that based on all the flips we lost, our 0-6 record over the last half of our season and the loss of Damien Harris to Alabama might have caused the less impressive result. We also should know that we are competing in the recruiting arena at a different level than ever before. This staff has gone after players that previous UK regimes would not even think about. It is well known that the previous staff didn't bother with Damien Harris. Stoops almost convinced Harris to stay home. The lure of Alabama was too much to overcome.
After the Harris decision, the wheels seemed to come off as noted by Ben Roberts. The Dowell brothers killed us when they flipped to Michigan State. It is hard for a school like Kentucky to lose two 4 star recruits. A trickle seemed to become a flow and we all screamed for something to make it stop. National Signing Day took care of it. Now that it is over, Rivals says Kentucky was one of the biggest losers for the 2015 recruiting season along with Ole Miss, Michigan, TCU and South Carolina. That's their opinion.
Vince Marrow explained that when Kentucky competes with the big dogs, the Big Blue Nation needs to understand that flips are common and that Kentucky wasn't the only school to have the unpleasant experience. The thing about flips is that when you win over a flip, you feel great. When you lose one, you think it is the end of the world.
The 2015 recruiting season has been dubbed "the year of the flips" by the national media. It brings the question about an early signing period right to the forefront of many coaches minds. Mark Stoops is on record as favoring an early signing period, but most of the SEC coaches are opposed to the idea. The bottom line is that as National Signing Day approaches, the big dogs are likely to raid other schools to fill out their recruiting numbers and Kentucky, until the winning begins, is going to suffer more than most. Stoops had to scramble, as noted by Eric Crawford, and I think he did remarkably well.
Another thing that hurt our ranking was the inclusion of the two Nebraska transfers, Courtney Love and Greg Hart. While both are beneficial to our football program and will likely play immediately, they were not counted as part of the class by any of the recruiting sites. So, while we had a class of 23, only 21 were counted in the rankings.
With the flips decimating our efforts, the staff obviously had a Plan B with recruiting. Marrow talked about this being a class of needs, and he felt those needs were satisfied. I'm not going into each player and their story simply because that information has been hashed out by everyone else. My suggestion for the reader is to see the highlight videos for each of the recruits and decide for yourselves if we got a winner or a loser. My own opinion is that this class is underrated and there are reasons for it.
I think Josh Allen is a perfect example. When Kentucky offered, suddenly other offers came in after he committed to the Cats. If you read what his high school coach had to say about him, you have to agree with Kentucky's decision to make the offer and accept his commitment.
Kentucky's offer and the commitment from Sihiem King surprised everyone. Tell me how a guy who scored 22 touchdowns in the Georgia 6-A division playoffs, and 47 TDs for the season in Georgia's largest schools division, only gets a (5.5) 3*rating? Is the fact that he is smallish the reason, or is it because he didn't participate in the camps and combines? I guess the Georgia 6-A division must not be very good (eyes rolling). If you watch his highlights, you have to scratch your head and wonder what's wrong with this kid. He looks like a player to me. I think a case can be made for the following players for a re-evaluation: Javon Provitt, Will Jackson, Courtney Miggins, Alvonte Bell and, perhaps, Derrick Baity. Just sayin'.
Anyway, you can make your own decision about this class. My view is that it is better than the numbers show and I am not going to worry about our class rank. Even at # 35, it is still better than any class ranking before Mark Stoops arrived.
One way of measuring success is who offered the players we signed. A word of caution, all of the offers were verbal. We have no way of knowing if they were written offers:
C.J. Conrad had offers from Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Western Michigan, Syracuse, Akron, Duke, Indiana, Illinois and Toledo.
Kengera Daniel had offers from NC State, Michigan, Louisville, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, Boston College, Miami, East Carolina, Wake Forest, and Alabama.
George Asafo-Adjei had offers from Rutgers, Louisville, Syracuse, Illinois, West Virginia, and Minnesota.
Jordan Jones had offers from Miami, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Michigan State.
August Incoming Freshmen:
Marcus Walker had offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Duke, Florida International, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Marshall, Massachusetts, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, NC State, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Florida, Tennessee, Central Florida, UCLA, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Western Kentucky.
Sihiem King had offers from Washington State, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Middle Tennessee, South Alabama and West Virginia.
Javon Provitt had offers from Akron, Cincinnati, Ohio and Purdue.
Eli Brown had offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Western Kentucky and Vanderbilt where he originally committed.
Kei Beckham had offers from Akron, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, Minnesota, Purdue, Wake Forest and Western Michigan.
Tavin Richardson had offers from Central Florida, Nebraska, Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati, Florida International, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, Marshall, Maryland, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky.
Mason Wolfe had no other offers.
Logan Stenberg had offers from Southern Miss, Troy and UAB (before they dropped football).
Josh Allen had offers from Alabama A&M, Buffalo, Hawaii, Kansas and Monmouth.
Chris Westry had offers from Arkansas, Auburn (where he originally committed), Charlotte, Florida International, Florida, Ohio, South Florida, and Central Florida.
Therrell Gosier had offers from Bowling Green, Clemson, Florida International, Marshall, Massachusetts, Miami (where he originally committed), Nebraska, South Florida, Syracuse, UAB and West Virginia.
Derrick Baity had offers from Central Florida, South Florida, Indiana, Louisville, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Levon Livingston had offers from Charlotte, NC State, Temple and West Virginia.
Jabari Greenwood had offers from Boston College, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Marshall, Maryland, Michigan State, NC State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia, Wake Forest, and Washington State.
Will Jackson had offers from Connecticut, NC State, Nevada, Ohio, Old Dominion, Toledo and Western Michigan. If you don't think this kid is a steal, check out his workout video. Very impressive, IMO (I have to give a hat tip to DylanGilreath from the Kentucky Scout Football forum.)
Alvonte Bell originally signed with Kentucky in the 2013 class. He had offers from Clemson, Florida International, Florida State, Indiana, Louisville, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, SMU, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. At the time, he was a (5.7) 3* player. In Junior college, he became a forgotten man for all except Mark Stoops. Kentucky was his only offer this time around.
Courtney Miggins was also in the 2013 class and had committed to Louisiana Lafayette. He held offers from Ball State, Louisville, and Mississippi State. At the time, he was a Rivals 2*. This time around, Rivals still has him as a 2*, but he had offers from Mississippi State and NC State in addition to Kentucky.
Courtney Love was part of Nebraska's 2013 recruiting class and Rivals had him as a (5.7) 3*. He had offers from Bowling Green, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Southern California, West Virginia and Youngstown State.
Greg Hart was also part of Nebraska's 2013 class and he was a Rivals (5.6) 3*. He had offers from Akron, Indiana, Kent State, Kentucky, Louisville, Marshall, NC State, Northwestern, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky.
It will take two - four years to figure out how a class turns out. The 2013 class will now be juniors (10) and redshirt sophomores (6). Wait! I thought we signed 23? That's only 16. We did, but we lost Javess Blue, Steven Borden, Z'Darius Smith and Nate Willis to graduation. Remember, they came to UK as JUCOs with three years to play two. Khalid Thomas was booted from the team along with his older brother before spring practice and Justin Day and Alvonte Bell never made it to campus due to academics. The ten underclassmen and all of the JUCOs saw action. Also, Alex Montgomery sat out due to the injury he had during his freshman season.
The good news is that the majority of the 2014 class sat out as redshirts. The only bad news with this class were the injuries to Mike Edwards and Darius West, and the Lloyd Tubman issue. He's suspended from the team until his legal problems are resolved.
What we will see this fall is a more talented roster than we've seen in a while, especially in the trenches.Our players are slowly getting bigger and better.
Defensive Line: Jacob Hyde (RS-Fr), Melvin Lewis (JUCO Sr), Reggie Meant (So), Cory Johnson (JUCO Sr), Adrian Middleton (RS-Fr), Matt Elam (So), Javon Provitt (Fr), and Courtney Miggins (JUCO). Provitt will likely redshirt. Also, there are the following walk-ons who might see action: Zane Williams (Jr), Elijah Barnett (Fr) who will likely redshirt.
Defensive Ends: Farrington Huguenin (RS-Sr Hybrid), Jason Hatcher (Jr Hybrid), Denzil Ware (RS-Fr), Tymere Dubose (RS-Fr), Josh Allen (Fr Hybrid), Alvonte Bell (JUCO Jr). Allen will most likely redshirt.
Offensive Line: Zach West (RS-Sr), Jordan Swindle (RS-Jr), Zach Myers (RS-Jr), John Toth (RS-Jr), Nick Haynes (RS-So), Ramsey Meyers (RS-So), Kyle Meadows (RS-So), Josh Krok (RS-Fr), Jervontius Stallings (RS-Fr), Jarrett LaRubbio (RS-Fr), Nick Richardson (RS-Fr), George Asafo-Adjei (Fr), Mason Wolfe (Fr), Logan Stenberg (Fr), and Levon Livingston (Fr). The freshman will most likely redshirt. We also have the following walk-ons: David Baumer (RS-So), Cole Mosier (RS-So), Dylan Greenberg (So Transfer from Youngstown St.), Ian Gibson (RS-Fr), Sully Simpson (Fr) who will likely redshirt. The thing about walk-ons is that you never know if they will return to the squad from year to year.
I'm not going to go into the other positions at this point in time because I want to wait until the Spring Roster is published. There are a lot of walk-ons on the August 2014 roster that may or may not still be on the team. Some could prove to be players who see action on the field.
By my count, the Cats have 83 scholarship players. That count includes the 2015 class, Loyd Tubman minus Josh Clemons. Could we pick up one or two late signees? A couple have been mentioned. Stoops can use the two for the 2016 class or he could award a couple of deserving walk-ons. Let us know what you think about the 2015 class.