Mark Stoops successfully turned around the Kentucky football program by recruiting the best of the best from the state of Kentucky in Ohio. Entering his seventh season, the Cats are extending their reach to new territories.
First, Eddie Gran helped UK invest in Florida. Last season Michael Smith moved them into Louisiana. Now the Cats are taking the next natural step to…California?
In his first month on the job, Jon Sumrall made a splash. The inside linebackers coach with roots in the Deep South offered arguably the best player on West Coast, linebacker Justin Flowe. A top five player in the 2020 class, the No. 1 linebacker in America was offered by Sumrall during an unofficial visit to UK with his 7-on-7 team.
“They offered me on the visit so that was cool,” Lowe told 247 Sports. “I met with Josh Allen and he’s a super good guy. I just asked him about how he prepares himself for the combine and if he gets nervous at all or feels pressure to perform. He said you don’t get nervous when you train really hard and when you’re prepared for it. The whole coaching staff was there and we split up in to individual position meetings. Jon Sumrall is the new LB coach and I actually knew him because he was recruiting me when he was at Ole Miss. He’s a good guy and I liked coach Stoops too so that was a good visit.”
Over the last week UK also offered a pair of cornerbacks from California, Makell Esteen and James Smith.
One of Sumrall’s first moves as a recruiter on Mark Stoops’ staff bucks most trends. Elite basketball recruits have no problem playing college ball across the country, but college football recruiting is typically a regional affair. In Kentucky’s case, the six-hour radius around campus has been beneficial. Can they extend UK’s recruiting range to Cali?
Convincing a player like Flowe to come to Kentucky is no small task. Considered a lean to USC, Alabama, Oklahoma and every other powerhouse are in hot pursuit of his services. As for the cornerbacks, the SEC draw could convince them to give UK a second look.
Even if nothing comes from this move by Sumrall, he’s sending a message. While recruiting for his alma mater, he’s going to recruit the best of the best and nothing less.