I am a believer that Kentucky can make great strides in the first couple years under Mark Stoops, and maybe even make a run at a bowl game and pull off an upset or two. However, Stoops’ third season at UK seems to be the year that Kentucky has a chance to really take off as a program. With the recent news that the Commonwealth Stadium renovations will be completed in time for the 2015 season, it is perhaps a hint that this is the year UK is gearing up for to do very big things.
Besides the stadium renovations, there are two other big reasons to look forward to 2015:
1. The Schedule
For me, the most memorable Kentucky football season was in 2007, and it would not have been so memorable if there wasn’t a home schedule that featured Louisville, LSU and Florida at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky almost certainly would not have beaten LSU on the road and may or may not have beaten Louisville on the road, but what made the two wins so memorable was that they were at Commonwealth Stadium. The Cats fell short against Tim Tebow and Florida, but it was a great game and it brought the ESPN College Gameday Crew to Lexington. The 2015 schedule features home games with Louisville, Florida and Tennessee with Texas A&M unofficially expected to visit Lexington as well. Those are four chances right there in Stoops’ third year at UK to create some long-lasting memories at Commonwealth.
2. Impact of Recruiting Will Start To Show
If Stoops hadn’t made a late push to improve the 2013 class, it could take an entire four years to build the program into a true SEC East contender, but key 2013 signees like DE Jason Hatcher, DB Marcus McWilson, DB Jaleel Hytchye and RB Jojo Kemp will help speed up the process. These key players will be entering their third season at Kentucky in 2015, while QB Drew Barker and the historic 2014 class will be in their second year on campus. To add to that experience could be a healthy RB Josh Clemmons, who would be a senior (or possibly a junior if given a medical redshirt for this season). I’m not saying we won’t see improvement in 2013 or 2014, but 2015 is when fans may be able to expect to win more bigger games and legitimately be able to compete with anyone on the schedule. In 2016, Kentucky will be even more experienced, but the 2015 season could be a very good season that turns out to be a springboard for an even brighter future.