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Kentucky Could Lose Rare In-State Recruiting Opportunity


Mark Stoops’ 2018 recruiting class did not sign one player from the state of Kentucky, something that had not happened in 78 years.  Kentucky’s head coach said on Signing Day that he does not expect that phenomenon to repeat itself in 2019.

“We’re recruiting hard on the 19s right now, out there beating the pavement, making sure we’re evaluating the right guys,” he said.

Well, one of those 2019 guys committed to Virginia Tech yesterday.  UK had recruited Bryan Hudson since he was a freshman, but he decided to take his talents elsewhere.

In a normal year, it’s devastating to see a Top 200 player leave the state, but Hudson was just the fourth-ranked player in Kentucky.  The 2019 class is absolutely loaded with some of the nation’s top talent.

  • DE Stephen Herron, No. 72 in the Nation
  • ATH Milton Wright, No. 137
  • DT Jacob Lacey, No. 154
  • OT Bryan Hudson, No. 212
  • OT Tanner Bowles, No. 282

Five Kentuckians are ranked in the Top 300.  Great news for UK, right?  Well, not exactly.  Herron is committed to Michigan, Lacey to Notre Dame, and Hudson to Va. Tech.  It’s unlikely UK will land Wright and they will have to fend off Alabama to bring Bowles to Lexington.

Early in his tenure Stoops said he wanted to build a wall around the state, but in arguably the Commonwealth’s best class, that wall is too small.

Kentucky can still salvage the big losses with other talented prospects, most notably Wandale Robinson.  The Western Hills athlete is a frequent visitor to campus and UK is at the top of his leaderboard.  Three prospects from Louisville — JJ Weaver, Shawnkel Knight-Goff and Demontae Crumes — are in play for the Cats, but they will have to pry them away from UofL.

The last time the state produced this much talent, Kentucky was in the driver’s seat before landing the state’s top three recruits, All-Americans Kash Daniel, Landon Young and Drake Jackson.  All three will be starters on the season-opening depth chart.

This time around, Kentucky is in an uphill battle for the state’s top talent, but why?

One could argue the 2019 class hit the camp circuit earlier.  By venturing to camps out of state, top programs are able to spot elite talent just as quickly as Kentucky.  However, I don’t think that’s entirely the case.

In the 2018 class, Purdue signed more players from the state of Kentucky than any other school.  This morning on Kentucky Roll Call, head coach Jeff Brohm explained how (and took a shot at Stoops and Bobby Petrino).

“I don’t know if (we’re stealing them), or teams there just don’t think as highly of them.  But we feel like we have a good heartbeat of where the talent is.  We’ve got good relationships with the coaches and we want to make sure we recruit all the top talent in the state of Kentucky.”

One might see it as a small slight in a quote on a morning radio show, but Brohm hits an underlying notion that might be UK’s problem: how connected is UK to the state?

For Brohm, he’s a household name.  A former Mr. Football at Trinity, it’s not difficult to find a connection to Rondale Moore, Trinity’s All-American receiver that will play in West Lafayette this fall.  Before taking the Purdue job, he developed connections at other schools while recruiting for Western Kentucky.

Stoops and Marrow used comparable connections to create a pipeline in the state of Ohio.  It’s given the Cats a large number of players, and helped them steal an elite recruit or two (see Lynn Bowden).  The tactic has been extremely successful, but does Stoops’ staff still have similar connections within the state?

In Stoops’ first two years, Neal Brown took care of that problem.  In fact, he recruited Purdue’s quarterback, Caldwell County’s Elijah Singular, before departing for Troy.  That responsibility was passed to John Schlarman.  A former UK offensive lineman and current O-line coach, Schlarman has an excellent track record recruiting elite Kentucky offensive linemen.  As for the rest of the state’s athletes…the jury is still out.

It would be unfair to criticize UK’s recruiting efforts within the state up until this point.  You can’t get them all.  However, the 2019 Kentucky class presents a very rare recruiting opportunity, one the Cats cannot afford to miss.  If they do not act quickly, it could be gone.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

14 responses to “Kentucky Could Lose Rare In-State Recruiting Opportunity”

  1. TBW3011

    But who would pay for the wall? That’s right. Mexico will.

    1. SuperTroy18

      Ha!

  2. shelby

    Need to string together 4 or 5 bowl seasons and 8 win seasons; kids wanna win, not just play at home.

    1. unbridled

      That’s what I’m saying. Hmmmm….notre dame, Michigan, va tech, or UK. Not much of a decision

  3. rcope58

    I don’t care where the talent comes from as long as we get results in the field

  4. SuperTroy18

    To be honest, Stoops has the same ties to Ohio, (if not more,) than Brohm to Ky. Ohio is a hotbed for elite football talent. Kentucky, as much as I love my home state, just isn’t as saturated with talent. I’d rather have the pipeline to Ohio than to get the best from Ky. It might be an anomaly that the upcoming recruiting class is better for Ky than in recent years, but Ohio will ALWAYS have that kind of talent. Every season. In fact, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio usually have some of the best players in the nation. Stoops has that region covered, (at least as well as UK has ever seen,) as well as Florida. I definitely think he’s got the best ideas in mind for whom and where to recruit to get the best we can get.

    Early on, Ky guys WANTED to play here. If they don’t have that kind of desire to put on the blue and white of their home state, maybe elsewhere is best for them. Good luck to them. Even though it didn’t end up well for him, I think Drew Barker said it best “I just didn’t want to be somewhere else when UK blew up and broke through.”
    (I don’t remember the exact quote. Sorry. But the sentiment is there.

    1. UoKFB PHAN

      I went and did some quick research and Ohio came up in the top 5 in every list. A few things I found interesting was Michigan wasn’t as high on the list as I thought it would be and Virginia (I’m thinking the DC metro area), Illinois and Louisiana were all higher on the lists than what I thought they would be. Hopefully Derrick LeBlanc and Michael Smith still have connection down in Louisiana.

  5. Catcasey1

    Stoops can’t see the trees for the forest.

  6. UoKFB PHAN

    It is a long way till everyone signs the NLI but I have to think a 9 – 3 last year might have a couple of these guys thinking differently. Hopefully a few of the latest UK grads will make an NFL roster and the Cats get 9 wins this season. If so, we might have a different situation with some of these guys.

    1. unbridled

      How on earth will uk get to 9 wins in 2018 when they could only muster 7 wins in 2017 (a much more favorable schedule)???

    2. cats646

      We’re better. That’s one way.

    3. notFromhere

      Exactly. Talking football to basketball people is like a professot talking to drunk college kids

    4. notFromhere

      Agree with your thinking, 646. That comment above was directed to you

  7. notFromhere

    It’s stupid to give a stupid comment by brohm any press. He IS a name that means something to KY kids. So what. Does that mean UK wants every kid from KY even if they don’t want to be here? He’ll no.

    They recruit and kids decide. Has nothing to do with anything else. We want the best players that want to be at UK. You can see what it gets you to get kids at UK that don’t want to be at UK so much as they think UK is their entitlement. Half of 4 and 5 star kids from KY that go to UK for football have a hard time putting their egos aside, and playing with heart for the school.

    Only those who haven’t been around the football side are clueless about that. I’ll take a Cobb (2 star from TN), Trevathan (2-3 star from FL), over a 4 star from KY that thinks he doesnt need to listen to the coaching staff or is too good for UK. They want to be here or they don’t.

    I’m good with it, and Brohm is either an egomaniac or idiot if he thinks that his staff is better tuned in rather than riding on his last name for recognition. Boil that