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Stoops confident losing streak won’t hurt recruiting

Darrell Bird |

Darrell Bird |

After starting the season out 5-1, the Cats lost five straight, which has pretty much killed all of the momentum headed into the season finale against Louisville. Has the losing streak affected recruiting? Earlier today, Mark Stoops said not at all.

“No, not at all. I feel very good about where we’re at and where we’re going recruiting,” Stoops told reporters. When asked, he said he doesn’t believe the losing streak has put doubts in his current players’ heads either. “No, I don’t worry about that one bit. We have a good group of players that enjoy playing here and have really worked hard and done the right things. I think you could ask them, I think they have full trust in what we’re doing. So I don’t worry about that at all on the recruiting front.”

Meanwhile, Damien Harris had this reaction to the news Dorian Baker will be out the rest of the season with a knee injury:

Emojipedia (yes, there is such a thing) describes that as the “weary face.” Weary because he’s sad about his future teammate’s injury, amirite??

4-star Vandy commit will take an official visit to Kentucky

Good news in football recruiting: 4-star linebacker Josh Smith told Rivals’ Woody Womack that he’s planning to take an official visit to Kentucky sometime soon. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee native is considered the 7th best inside linebacker and the 283rd overall player in the 2015 class and committed to Vanderbilt back in July, but has now decided to take official visits to Kentucky and Ole Miss, along with one to Vanderbilt in January.

“Everything’s going well with Vanderbilt, still sticking strong,” Smith said of his commitment to Vandy. Smith’s brother plays for the Commodores, which could make flipping him especially difficult; however, getting him on campus can’t hurt, especially if it happens on December 13, a huge recruiting weekend in which almost all of UK’s current commits and top targets are set to take their officials.

Come on down and let Vince Marrow entertain you.


Your Damien Harris Update

The Bad

The Madison Southern standout has been on the move recently, and in a very southern direction. The back took an unofficial visit last weekend to Tuscaloosa for the Bama win over then top-ranked Mississippi State. Harris is again going back to Tuscaloosa next weekend on his official visit for the Crimson Tide’s final game of the year against their rival, Auburn. For our sake, I’d say there’ll be a bunch of War Eagle cheers throughout the Big Blue Nation next weekend.

The Indifferent

Harris still has to take official visits to Florida and Texas A&M after he visits UK on the 13th. Gut feeling that neither of those visits will even matter in the long run, though.

The Good

Something worth noting I believe is that Harris visited UK 3 seperate times after his official visit to Ohio State. One of which was the day after he had just gone to OSU, so that has got to be good.

He is still scheduled for his Dec. 13th official visit to UK, which coincidentally also happens to be UK basketball’s home game against a more than likely Top-10 ranked Carolina Tarheel team. HA! Take that Bama! But really, if the Cats come up with a big win against the dirty birds next weekend at Petrino’s Pizza Palace, it’ll be a great atmosphere for Damien Harris to soak in and he’ll get to see one last time in person what the BBN is all about.

I’m no expert, but I’d say someone at UK probably had something to do with the “coincidental” timing of the visit. UK currently leads 247’s crystal ball predictions with 49%, behind UK is OSU with 45% and Michigan with 4%.


More on Tyrone Riley, UK’s latest 2015 commitment

In the middle of all the basketball madness last night, the football team picked up another 2015 commitment: 3-star defensive end Tyrone Riley from Savannah, Georgia. The news got lost in the mix last night, so let’s get to know him today:

6-6 230 lbs.
Savannah, GA (Calvary Day School)

247 Sports Composite: 29 WDE | 603 | 62 GA
247 Sports: 38 WDE | 79 GA
Rivals: 23 WDE | 48 GA
ESPN: 50 OLB | 81 GA

Offer list: Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, NC State, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Purdue, Wake Forest

Recruited by: Craig Naivar

  • UK’s 17th commitment in the 2015 class
  • Visited UK over the summer, has tremendous upside
  • UK’s third defensive end commitment in 2015, joining Jason Stowbridge and Kengera Daniel


Welcome to the fam, Tyrone.

We now interrupt your pregaming for a YAHTZEE

While we’re all counting down the minutes til UK/Kansas, it appears there is some football recruiting news happening. According to his high school teammats on Twitter, Tyrone Riley, a 2015 three-star weak-side defensive end from Savannah, Georgia, has committed to Kentucky:

Tyrone is considered the 29th best weak-side defensive end in the 2015 class by 247 Sports. We’ll have more on his commitment tomorrow, but for now, YAHTZEE!

And so it begins…

Damien Harris spent the day in Tuscaloosa, where Alabama defeated the No. 1 team in the nation in front of 101,821 rowdy fans. I suppose this is when we begin to worry.

Damien Harris visiting Alabama early this weekend


Harris isn’t supposed to be making his official visit to Alabama until Nov. 29 for the Iron Bowl, but he couldn’t wait til then and is currently on campus  two weeks early for an early look for that visit.

Don’t freak out, don’t panic, don’t freak out.


Drake Jackson picks up an offer from Ohio State

Drake Jackson and Keion Wakefield at the UK/Ohio game (@THE_DRAKE_52)

2016 Woodford County star Drake Jackson is considered the nation’s top center, and has Kentucky high on his list, along with Alabama and Tennessee. Last night, Drake added another name to that list: Ohio State.

Kentucky has been considered the favorite for Drake for a while now. Last week, he told KSR how impressed he is with Mark Stoops and how much playing for his in-state school would mean to him; however, Ohio State is Ohio State. I spoke with Drake this morning, and he said receiving an offer from the Buckeyes was a big achievement. “I was just very excited to receive it,” Drake said of the offer. “I have had this as a goal of mine for a long time.” When asked, Drake said this won’t affect the timeline of his recruitment, which has been rumored to end on December 13. He’s already visited Ohio State unofficially, and says he’ll try to get up there again, but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to.

The Cats and the Vols are two of Drake’s finalists. What’s he looking for in tomorrow’s game? “I’m excited for the game,” Drake said. “I understand both teams have a lot of young players, and I can’t wait to see who fights through adversity.” I tried to get a hint as to who he’s cheering for by asking whether he’ll wear blue or orange, but no luck. “Probably black,” Drake laughed.

Although an offer from Ohio State is formidable, I still feel good about Kentucky’s chances. Drake has been to several games this season and often talks about how close he is with UK’s staff and the appeal of playing for his home state school. For a lot of top players, just getting an offer from a program as elite as Ohio State is validating even if their heart lies elsewhere.

Will the Cats beat out Urban Meyer for two top recruits next month?

Quinton Baker has a ridiculous spin move

Last week, I profiled all of UK’s 2016 in-state commitments, and high on that list was Quinton Baker, a three-star all-purpose back from Ashland. Baker’s garnered a lot of buzz in recent weeks, and highlights like the one above are why. Those are some spin moves that would make Julius Randle proud.

More of Quinton’s highlights:

Watch Damien Harris and Madison Southern play Letcher Central

Watch Damien Harris and Madison Southern play Letcher Central


Autoplay is the devil, so click on the pic or the link below to go watch Damien Harris’ first game back from injury.


The Best of the Bluegrass: UK’s 2016 in-state commitments

The Best of the Bluegrass: UK’s 2016 in-state commitments

Most of the focus in football recruiting is currently on the 2015 class, but Kentucky has already made major strides with its 2016 prospects. One of the hallmarks of Mark Stoops’ tenure so far has been keeping top in-state talent in state, starting with Ryan Timmons and Jason Hatcher in 2013; Matt Elam and Drew Barker in 2014; Eli Brown and possibly Damien Harris in 2015.

In the 2016 class, UK has already landed commitments from four of the top five prospects in Kentucky, and there’s a VERY good chance they make it five out of five with Drake Jackson, the number one recruit in state and the nation’s top center. UK is also considered the favorite for Male’s Keion Wakefield, the 6th best prospect in the Commonwealth. I interviewed some of the recruits about the job Stoops has done so far, and how much that in-state focus means to them. I also spoke with 247 Sports’ Director of Scouting Barton Simmons to get his evaluations of each player. Let’s get to know them.

landonyoungLANDON YOUNG
Offensive Tackle
Lexington, KY (Lafayette)
6-7 | 270

247Composite: 24 OT | 259 | 2 KY
247Sports: 15 OT | 150 | 2 KY
ESPN: 24 OT | 271 | 2 KY
Rivals: 26 OT | 2 KY
Scout: 15 OT | 160

Committed: 6/14/2013

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Young: “A rare elite national offensive lineman from within Kentucky, Young is still developing physically but he’s got outstanding length and he plays with toughness. Though he doesn’t play an elite level of competition, the way he finishes blocks and the way he can move at his size make him a highly ranked kid on 247Sports.”

Lexington, KY (Henry Clay)
6-1 | 165

247Composite: 48 CB | 538 | 3 KY
247Sports: 43 CB | 5 KY
Rivals: NR
Scout: NR

Committed: 10/8/2014

Davonte on UK:

On playing for his in-state school: I think it’s very important because it’s where I grew up and it’s where I want to stay.

On 4 of the top 5 in-state recruits committing to UK: I think it’s great that people from the state committed because we can represent for our state.

On UK this season: I think Coach Stoops has done a great job. He’s really changing the program and leading UK in a good direction.

When he knew he wanted to go to UK: After the South Carolina game

On how he thinks UK will end the season: I think this year they will make it to a bowl game

Will his opinion on UK change if they don’t make a bowl game? No. Whether they make it or not, they will still be a great team and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Davonte: “Though he’s a local kid, Robinson has national speed as a cornerback and he’s got the ability with his size to be a lock-down defender. He runs a sub-11 second 100 meters and he has 6-1 size and he is an impact player on both sides of the ball as a high schooler. Robinson is a high ceiling type of talent.”

Dual-threat quarterback, wide receiver
Paducah, KY (McCracken)
6-1 | 180

247Composite: 41 ATH | 545 | 4 KY
247Sports: 34 ATH | 4 KY
Rivals: 5 KY
Scout: NR

Committed: 7/19/2014

Zy’Aire on UK:

On playing for his in-state school: It’s important for me because of all of the support I get and it’s close to home. I just love how the coaches are trying to build a family.

On 4 of the top 5 in-state recruits committing to UK: It’s great because I know everyone in my class and played on all-star teams with most.

On UK this season: Stoops has done a great job. He’s really building a program.

On how he thinks UK will end the season: I hope they can make it to a bowl game.

Will his opinion on UK change if they don’t make a bowl game? No, I’ m excited to be a Cat. I love everything about it.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Zy’Aire: “While he will often line up at quarterback for his high school, Hughes is likely a wide receiver on the next level, or possibly a defensive back but his athleticism, burst with the football and creativity making plays makes him the type of player that you want to deliver the football to. In Kentucky terms, Hughes has a little Randall Cobb to his game.”

All-purpose Back
Ashland, KY (Paul G. Blazer)
5-8 | 180

247Composite: 10 APB | 555 | 5 KY
247Sports: 8 APB | 3 KY
Rivals: 4 KY
Scout: 29 RB

Committed: 10/25/2014

Son of former UK running back Al Baker

Quinton on UK:

On playing for his in-state school: It’s important. I want the players in state to stick around and come to UK too. It would really be something.

On 4 of the top 5 in-state recruits committing to UK: It’s awesome that the in-state guys are staying here!

On UK this season: Coach Stoops is really changing the game. There’s a completely different swagger.

When he knew he wanted to go to UK: When they offered me on Junior Day

On how he thinks UK will end the season: I think UK will be bowl eligible and do great in their bowl.

Will his opinion on UK change if they don’t make a bowl game? No.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Quinton: “More and more frequently, we’re seeing undersized dynamic players find a place in big time college football and even the NFL. Baker could be that guy for Kentucky. He’s a quick, space athlete that can be effective out of the backfield or out of the slot in Kentucky’s spread offense.”


Kentucky’s top 2016 in-state target is Drake Jackson, the Commonwealth’s best prospect and the nation’s number one center in his class. There have been rumors Jackson already gave the UK staff a silent verbal, but he denied that last week. Jackson has visited Kentucky three times this season, and has also made trips to Alabama, and Tennessee. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on Stoops and the program. I think you’ll like what he has to say.

Offensive Guard
Versailles, KY
6-2 | 288

247Composite: 1 OC | 117 | 1 KY
247Sports: 1 OC | 58 | 1 KY
ESPN: 1 OG | 164 | 1 KY
Rivals: 238 | 1 KY
Scout: 1 OC | 84

Drake on UK:

On the importance Mark Stoops and staff have put on keeping in-state talent in state: I think it’s very clear what Coach Stoops’ plan is when it come to recruiting in-state. He has put a wall on the border, keeping just about everyone inside of it. I like this idea, because I know what it’s like to play with those guys. I played on a middle school all-star team with Zy’Aire Hughes and even played my whole middle school with Sam Letton (who moved to Georgia, and has a UK offer). Playing with your friends is something every player dreams of.

On his recruitment: I can see myself making a decision when I’m done taking my visits this fall. As for the excitement around UK, there’s no better time to be a part of it, and that plays a big factor.

247 Sports’ Barton Simmons on Drake: “Drake has everything you want in a center. He’s cerebral, he’s got great toughness and physicality, moves his feet extremely well and he’s proven himself not only in pads on Friday nights but on the camp circuit around the country against the best. Early in the 2016 recruiting cycle, Drake has emerged as our top center in the entire country on 247Sports.”

Come on down and join the heroes, Drake.

Kentucky sending recruits mailers in chrome envelopes

You’re looking at a tweet from Keion Wakefield, a three-star receiver at Male in Louisville. Wakefield is considered the 67th best receiver in the 2016 class by Rivals, and today, he showed off an impressive new mailer from Kentucky, which came in a chrome envelope. The letter inside was also pretty cool:

Right now, Wakefield’s got offers from Kentucky and Cincinnati, but Oregon and Clemson have also shown interest. Will Wakefield stay home and be a hero? His older brother, Keron, is currently a walk-on cornerback at UK, so that can’t hurt. Neither will the cool chrome envelopes.

Damien Harris cleared to play in the playoffs

Great place, great people #BBN

A photo posted by Damien Harris (@damienharris34) on

How about some good news for a change? This morning, Damien Harris tweeted that he has been cleared to play in the first round of the playoffs next week. Harris has been sidelined by a sprained MCL for almost a month, and yesterday, he said he was able to run full speed for the first time since the injury.

Next Friday, Madison Southern is projected to play at Letcher County. Before his injury, Harris carried the ball 88 times for 1,524 yards and 23 touchdowns in five games. Of course, Harris is down to Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and Texas A&M. He’s visited UK unofficially five time this season, and didn’t miss a single home game in October, even making the trip the day after his injury. Ohio State still holds a slim 47%/45% lead over UK in his Crystal Ball, but the Cats are thought to have the momentum.

Another YAHTZEE! Quinton Baker Commits

A player I was hoping Neal Brown could keep home, Ashland Blazer’s Quinton Baker has committed to the Wildcats.  A 247 Composite 4-star running back, Baker is one of the best prospects in Kentucky’s deep Class of 2016 and the son of former Wildcat Al Baker.  With 4.49 speed, Baker is a playmaker that has hardly reached his potential.


Watch his highlights, they’re pretty good.

Just because there’s a loss doesn’t mean we can’t YAHTZEE!

Tonight was rough, but the Cats’ performance gives plenty of hope for the future.  It isn’t just the BBN that is seeing the progress.  The 16th-ranked linebacker in the class of 2016, Roland Walder, announced his commitment to Kentucky shortly after tonight’s game.  The Dayton, OH native runs a 4.5 40-yard-dash and ensures that tonight wasn’t a total wash.


You know you wanna watch his highlights.

Stay tuned.  Rivals’ Justin Rowland believes there is more to come…