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Notes from Mark Stoops’ Signing Day Press Conference

Mark Stoops met with the media minutes after Jason Hatcher’s announcement to discuss Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class, how it all went down, and what’s next from here.

Here’s an overview of the press conference, written by someone who is very excited about Kentucky football, me:

—  First and foremost, flipping Jason Hatcher from USC and signing him to Kentucky:  Stoops said he had to make up a lot of time with Hatcher, as well as all recruits, and they were able to find success, despite his mother’s loyalty to the Louisville Cardinals.  “Mama is a Louisville fan, so it was hard to get around that,” he said.  Stoops took four assistant coaches with him to the last in-home visit with Hatcher and he’s very thankful that Jason and his family were so gracious to talk to them on a regular basis throughout his recruitment.  He called Hatcher a tremendous person.

—  The other highly-regarded in-state commitment, Ryan Timmons, was also a top priority for the staff.  Timmons was the first recruit they went to see after taking the job 71 days ago.  Stoops sent DJ Eliot to Frankfort to see Timmons as soon as Eliot was in place on the staff.  He admitted the trip to Franklin Co. was convenient because it’s on the way to see Hatcher in Louisville.  Stoops called Timmons a dynamic player and a high priority in Neal Brown’s system.

—  As it stands now, which will hopefully change, Kentucky’s 2013 recruit class is comprised of 22 signees: 12 offensive players, nine defensive players, and one kicker.  He still hopes to add at least one more to the group before wrapping up the class.

—  Nine of the current 22 signees are from the state of Florida.  Stoops said that’s in part because of relationships built when he was at Florida State, and it’s hard to say if they’ll pursue the area as hard in the future.  He said he’s not putting limitations on anything, though.

—  Alvonte Bell is one of the players he was very familiar with while in Tallahassee; he even offered Bell a scholarship to play football at Florida State.  Bell, of course, chose the Wildcats with Joker Phillips, and Stoops said he was excited to see Bell’s name on the list of commitments when he arrived at Kentucky.  He worked hard to maintain and build on his relationship with Bell as soon as he took the UK job.

Khalid Thomas is another Joker commit Stoops is very familiar with from his time at FSU.  Thomas is from Tallahassee, as is his brother, current UK linebacker, Pancho Thomas.

—  Stoops spoke very highly of one of my favorite players in the class, JoJo Kemp.  He called Kemp a home run hitter on the football field.  Kemp is another guy they targeted right away and were very excited to reel in.

—  Jacob Hyde became a KSR favorite this morning when we posted a photo of him riding a lawn mower in a white tuxedo on his way to prom.  Stoops also fell for the homegrown Kentucky boy, saying he loves Hyde’s Kentucky accent.  Hyde, from Clay County, isn’t rated as high as many of the other players in the class, but he’s a big, strong guy and Stoops is excited to have him on board.

—  Here’s a pretty incredible stat, if it’s true:  Stoops said they “shot around” 70% with the guys they brought on campus for visits.  That’s a pretty remarkable success rate for football recruiting.  Keep in mind, not all visitors received offers or high interest, though.  He’s only referring to the visitors they actively pursued.

—  He credited Big Blue Nation and the passion of the fan base for playing a major role in putting this class together.  He said recruits felt the presence of BBN, especially on Twitter.  And kids love Twitter.

So pat yourself on the back for your contributions.  It was a group effort by everyone.

—  Do the recruiting rankings matter to Coach Stoops?  Of course they do, silly.  He said, “Let’s not kid ourselves. They matter. And we want to be higher rather than lower. And that’s what we try to do.”  UK is currently ranked No. 28 by, the best of the four major recruiting services.  Stuart Hammer will be by shortly to show you how Kentucky would measure up in other BCS conferences.

—  Stoops noticed that a lot of people have been asking him why he decided to take the Kentucky job.  “Why here?,” he’s constantly asked.  He tells them he truly believes there is a lot of potential at Kentucky.  “It’s a sleeping giant,” he said of the UK football program.  “We can do great things.”

—  He’s very anxious to get back and start working with his players, both old and new.  The next phase is to develop the guys through a couple weeks of morning training sessions and see how they move without the ball.  The players have been working hard on their own in the weight room and he’s excited to finally get settled in Lexington and join them during offseason training.  However, the staff will still be recruiting hard, evaluating the class of 2014.  He said they were on the phone with 2014 recruits this morning and they’re already a little behind in the class because the 2013 class took so much work.  You have to admire his drive and aggression on the recruiting trail.


What a great day and a bright future for Kentucky football.


Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

31 Comments for Notes from Mark Stoops’ Signing Day Press Conference

  1. Musehobo
    4:37 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    ESPN has Stanford ahead of us at #39. Stanford has 0,4,8 (5 star, 4 star, 3 star) and we have 0,3,17, How does ESPN justify that?

    Rivals has Stanford at #63. Seems WAY more appropriate.

  2. Sin The'
    4:37 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink


  3. Go cats
    4:39 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Why is everybody out of their mind about getting one top 300 pick. Vandi has 5. I love the cats and won’t miss a game but the hype is just plain unwarranted

  4. Sin The'
    4:39 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    ESPN isn’t really looked at for their evaluation of talent. The two big ones are rivals and Scout.

  5. most ridiculous manner possible
    4:42 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    You can have your opinions of the different recruiting services but you sound like a pretty clear idiot homer when you call the one that ranks us highest “the best of the four”.

  6. Go cats
    4:42 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    I think a more realistic expectation is to get a better class next year and then even a better class the next year and then maybe we can get back to a bowl game. MAYBE. But to those people who are expecting something different are just going to be let down.

  7. Drew Franklin
    4:43 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    5. — Anyone in America will tell you Rivals is the best for football recruiting. We’ve been using it forever, even in the years UK has been ranked in the 60s.

  8. Fun Fact
    4:43 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Ryan Timmons and Jacob Hyde went to elementary school together in Frankfort. The more you know…

  9. JaredCarterIsMyHomeboy
    4:47 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    5 – Rivals is the best for football. They have more people on the ground, more people at the games to evaluate, and most of the time the best people. They see more players than anyone else too.

  10. Hosier Wlldcat
    4:49 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    How strong is the SEC? Our recruiting class is ranked 28th in the nation but still last [14th] in the SEC. It will be a up hill climb but I believe this group of coaches will have Kentucky in the BCS bowl picture in three to four years. I don’t expect big things the 1st year. Maybe a bowl in their 2nd year.

  11. Blue_Cat75
    4:49 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    ESPN has removed Hatcher from UKs commits list. Is there something to it, or is it just ESPN being stupid?

  12. gvillecat
    4:50 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    After a 2 win season, this is a very solid class. Now the real work begins. If Brown’s offense clicks in the SEC and the team competes at a high level next season, the recruiting will be even better (see Ole Miss).

  13. Musehobo
    4:52 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    I think that the realistic, logical fans are being a bit unfair. If this truly is the best class we’ve ever had, after that monstrosity of year we had last year, that is a reason to celebrate. Sure we haven’t won any games yet and we are still last in the SEC. We do have to temper our expectations. But having this kind of class after booting our awful coach is pretty uplifting. And pissing on everyone’s parade isn’t the same thing as keeping people’s expectations in check.

  14. Sin The'
    4:52 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    #5 you really have no idea what you are talking about do you.

  15. CATS
    4:57 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    6.) Actually that is not necessarily true, Arkansas’ recruiting classes were ranked 9th or 10th in a twelve team SEC. However, they were competing for the West Championship (w/ LSU and ALabama) because of coaching (Petrino). Ole Miss and Auburn have always done fairly well in recruiting (compared to us and Vandy), but have stunk it up lately, minus Auburn’s anomaly year sans Newton. A lot of this depends on coaching ability.

    If Stoops can coach it is reasonable that we can reach a bowl game in year two. We went to five straight bowl games with less talent, minus Woodsen,Stevie, etc. year, and that was due to Papa Brooks coaching ability. Joker pulled better classes than Brooks, but couldn’t coach his way out of a paper sack.

    If and I mean If Stoops can recruit an equal class next year, develop who Joker could not, and show some coaching ability we will be in a bowl game soon. It might be in Nashville, but hell whose counting anyways.

    James Franklin has turned their team completely around in two recruiting classes. Why? he can coach!!!!

    Quit being so negative your gonna kill yourself.

  16. Go cats
    4:57 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    A BCS GAME? Are you serious? Wow we get two players that aren’t even great they are barely good and we are talking about a BCS game. We can’t get a better class than ANYBODY in our conference but we are supposed to win. Are u kidding me? We won’t even compete. That’s like LSU talking about getting one top 100 basketball recruit and saying that they will beat us in basketball. We will win 3 games this season and 4-5 the next few years MAX. Bowl game is 4 years away and 6-7 wins is as good as it will EVER get

  17. Blue_Cat75
    4:58 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    This class ranks 27th in the nation yet second to last (13th) in the SEC. Just for comparison, it would be 1st in the Big East, 3rd in the Big12, and 5th in the Big10.

  18. Isaac in Long Beach
    5:04 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    So much negativity… I don’t get it. I guess we should just go get Joker back and beg all his recruits to recommit. The way some of you guys are talking, we’d obviously be better off.

  19. Go cats
    5:04 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Why when someone is realistic they are called negative? The best class we have ever had coming in is still in last place. How does that make people start talking about an SEC title. Now I know how the other SEC schools fans talk like competing against us in basketball. #Unrealistic

  20. White Castle Sliders
    5:05 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Who cares what the Rankings say or how many stars…… Stoops knows how to coach Defense and Brown knows how to coach offense and they know how to develop players….if you have player with average talent you can compete.

  21. JBR
    5:08 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Good points 15…you are exactly correct. We don’t know how well these coaches will “coach”…but we have basically had zero in the past 3 years, so there will be improvement. How much is yet to be seen, but as of right now, there is no reason not to be optimisitic.

  22. bluristhurr
    5:18 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Scouts has fallen behind IMO lately. Go to rivals for football and I liked them too for b-ball but since Telep left I find myself paying more attention to ESPN now. Please refrain yourself from commenting about this if you’ve never had a subscription. I liked the idea on ESPN earlier giving teams a grade 2 years into college.

  23. MustangCat
    5:24 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Trolls. Jeez. Just looked at ESPN, and Hatcher is still there. They have UK with six 4-star players, and McWilson isn’t one of them. They don’t have him close to being a 4-star??? That should tell you enough. This class is the best class in many many years! Avg of over 3.00. If we can get the other two on our wish list? That would push us over the top. We’ll be fine next year.

  24. wow
    5:28 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Great class. Could not ask for better only 9 weeks after Stoops got hired. The staff added our 6 best players to the class among others. It might take a couple years, but there is no doubt we are trending north. Sky is the limit

  25. Tampa Satchel
    5:29 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Mustang-They just put that up in the last 20 minutes or so. He was not commit then, when I checked.

  26. Paducahfan
    5:43 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    No question this is a better group of players. With better coaching than we have had recently, we’ll be competitive and that will be a treat.

  27. duffus
    5:54 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Go cats you are an idiot==glum is your word of choice no doubt!Forget the players for a minute—name me one chaching staff we have had from top to bottom better than thsi staff–didn’t think so. They will win sooner than later!!!

  28. JBCat
    6:00 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t pay any attention to these trolls that like to piss on the parade. If UK won the Nat’l Champ. next year they would bitch about it taking so long.
    What Stoops has done in a couple of months here is remarkable by anybody’s standards. We finished 2-10 last season, and were sitting at 70th in recruiting when he took over for #%&@$ sake!!

    6:23 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    GoCats, what is your problem? Why are you on here dogging the class? We got two recruits “who aren’t even great, they’re barely good”. WTH are you talking about? I’m glad you aren’t on this coaching staff, trying to evaluate talent, because it is blatantly evident that you wouldn’t know a football player if he jumped up and kicked you in your dumb ass. I’d say Hatcher, Kemp, Timmons, McWilson, Blue, and Smith are great recruits, and we got some others that are better than barely good, but pretty damn good football players. So why don’t you go crawl back under your rock, and quit raining on the parade.

  30. kramer
    7:26 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    On Christmas my uncle who was asst coach this past year at St X here in Louisville, said no way Hatcher would sign with UK, he would end up at USC, or UL….hahaha can’t wait to see him again!!

  31. NL
    7:53 pm February 6, 2013 Permalink

    29. There will always be haters and doubters in life. He’s like Dick Morris and UK is like Bill Clinton