We're almost there, folks. The roller coaster ride that has been the 2015 signing class is nearing its conclusion - thankfully for most fans of Kentucky football. There's been quite a bit of upheaval throughout this entire cycle. There were a few tremors in the summer and fall - Marcus Walker, Darius Fullwood, Montrell Custis, and Alex Stump - but the volcano erupted in January. If one counts Marcus Walker's decommitment, and the parting of ways with Luke Hiers, UK had 12 prospects reopen their recruitment this cycle. Upheaval, thy name is 2015 UK football recruiting.
The amount of upheaval prior to mid-October conflicts somewhat with the argument that UK losing six games to close out the season is the reason for the chaos. As I argued last week, UK targeting recruits that were also targeted by major programs, while not making the postseason itself, is the single biggest factor for the slip in the recruiting rankings. Custis flipped to Alabama, Fullwood to Virginia Tech, The Brothers Dowell to Michigan State, Jeremiah Dinson to Auburn, and Davon Hamilton and Alex Stump to Ohio State. For various reasons, those programs didn't come after UK recruits in previous cycles, and UK benefited from it in the last two classes.
Winning games is the silver bullet to fending off big programs.
Having recruiting aces and "ringleader" recruits is ancillary. Look to our Commonwealth brethren in Louisville as an example. They held off Florida, Oklahoma, and Auburn the past few weeks for recruits. I don't think that's because their coaches are naturally better recruiters than Kentucky's; rather, it's largely because they've won 45 games since 2010. It's easier to be a recruiting ace when you coach for a team that regularly goes to big bowl games.
This year's recruiting class won't live up to the expectations of most fans or probably even the coaches. Last year's 28 man class likely inflated expectations. Keep in mind though, winning two games and having a Top 25 recruiting class last year requires as many things to go right as many things went wrong this year. Perhaps cosmic balance is just being restored.
There is cause for some celebration, but it will be missed by many.
Heading into this cycle, UK had to sign a strong class of offensive tackles, tight ends, and linebackers. Depth issues mandated it. And you know what? UK hit their marks quantitatively and arguably the recruits within those positions are UK's best in the 2015 class. These are the players in this class who will likely be called upon to contribute before their 2015 classmates, and because of that, UK could not afford to miss on these positions. And three of them enrolled early! According to all the reporting and rumors this year, UK probably got most of their top choices at these positions.
A Sea of Blue will be bringing you live coverage of National Signing Day festivities tomorrow. We have several things in the works, and will get those published as UK announces the reception of the recruit's National Letters of Intent. Watch UK's NSD webcast, and check in with us during the day to either rejoice or commiserate. Despite whatever UK's final recruiting rankings are, tomorrow is just the beginning for those players' development.
By this time tomorrow there will be roughly 20 new Wildcats.