Too many people are looking at Kentucky’s 13th ranking in the SEC and writing this group off as no better than the last. Those people don’t get it, at all, and their negativity is frustrating to see when Stoops has put together a hell of a class. That number means very little when you’re evalutating the SEC, where over half the programs in the conference are among the best classes in the country every year.
In the SEC, unlike the other BCS conferences, it’s not about leapfrogging to the top of the rankings with a single recruiting class; it’s about closing the talent gap between your team and the Alabamas and LSUs. And that’s exactly what Mark Stoops has done with his 2013 class. Yeah, Kentucky is still towards the back of the pack, but that spot in the back, though still the same number, is much closer to the front, talent-wise, than it has been in years past. It’s like losing a footrace by a couple lengths when you’ve been used to collapsing, gasping for air, and crawling to the finish line in previous races. Kentucky still isn’t coming in first, second or third, but it’s on the heels of the leaders, gaining confidence, and turning up the pressure for the next race.
If you’re honestly disappointed in Kentucky not being towards the top of the SEC rankings this season, I love your enthusiasm, but you’re crazy. The SEC has six of the top 10 classes in America and half of the top 20. That’s absurd. The 10th-ranked class in the SEC is the 20th-ranked in the country. The 13th-ranked class in the conference, Kentucky, is No. 28 in the country. Last year, the 10th-ranked SEC team was No. 30 nationally and Kentucky was No. 62. Talent is up in the conference’s bottom tier and Kentucky is in on the action, chasing down the perennial recruiting powerhouses at the top.
So, if you want progress, look nationally to see Kentucky’s movement up the rankings. UK was on pace for another class ranking somewhere in the 60s, but Stoops has the Cats sitting just outside the top 25 and looking in with a couple highly-touted players out there still deciding. It’s quite the improvement from everything we’ve seen before, regardless of that 13th SEC ranking.
UK’s class rankings since 2002
2013: 28 (can still improve)