This week has been about as exciting as anyone can remember in the history of football recruiting in Kentucky. Mark Stoops and his staff had a three-day stretch where they received commitments from members of the 2016 and 2017 high school football classes.
Right now Kentucky has the 12th ranked class in the country according to Rivals. That's ahead of teams like the Florida Gators, the Oregon Ducks, and the Clemson Tigers. The class boasts of four-star players Drake Jackson, Tate Leavitt, and Landon Young, all offensive linemen. That list includes three-star defensive tackle Kobe Smith, a kid that just committed and had an offer list that included Mississippi State, Arkansas, Kansas State, Miami (Fl), Nebraska, Louisville, and a host of others.
The 2017 class is already off to a bang with four players with three-star rankings. The players are defensive end James Hudson, quarterback Mac Jones, running back Michael Warren, and wide receiver Russ Yeast. All of them are top 10 players in Ohio except for Jones who is from Florida.
This is proof that the football program is going in the right direction as far as the recruiting goes. Kids are buying into what Stoops has to offer and with the help of Vince Marrow the grip on Ohio is getting tighter. The high-performance program run by Eric Korem is getting physical results. The improvements to Commonwealth Stadium and the addition to new football facilities is making Lexington into a serious football town.
So far everything is going according to plan. Now all the Wildcats need to do is win some football games.
Winning will take the momentum and ramp it up even more. The players that are committed are more likely to stay. Recruits that Kentucky may have never dreamed of recruiting might start showing more interest. All the glitz, glam, and motivational words ring hollow if there are more L's in the column than W's.
That's what makes this season so important. To continue to build Kentucky into a contender, Mark Stoops needs a bowl game in his third year at Kentucky. And this will be the perfect season to make the leap.
The schedule plays into the Wildcats' favor with home games against teams with a lot of questions and gaps in important positions that may not have been filled. Florida, Missouri, and Louisville are all teams that have given the Wildcats problems in recent seasons, but Kentucky came close to beating all three teams on the road last year.
And this season, all three teams will come to Commonwealth and all three teams look to take a step back in the talent department. Kentucky will realistically need to win two of those three games in order to make a bowl.
There has been an era of good feelings in the Stoops tenure. He took over a program in shambles and almost reached a bowl game in his second season. The excuses are starting to fade. Now is the time to get it done.