The Summer Recruiting season symbolically began last night under the lights at Commonwealth Stadium. Like most things that Mark Stoops does, the Saturday Night Showcase was a spectacle that had not been seen at UK before with over 300 campers and around 700 fans in the stands. Normally a dead time on campus, campers covered the grounds all around the football facilities throughout the night. I strolled throughout campus with our fearless leader Matt Jones and the Legend Oscar Combs, observing everything I could in the electric atmosphere.
Knowing exactly who some of these kids are can be extremely difficult, often relying on their highlighter-esque socks to pinpoint a player before having to ask someone who has ‘been there, done that’. The night began a little hectic when 100 kids came as walk-ups just before the event was planned to start. Similar to AAU basketball events, entourages from many different high schools stuck together, usually wearing matching attire. One of the largest entities at the event was a group of about a dozen campers from Westerville, OH, the same high school as TE commit Darryl Long (who is on the way to UK now). Hosting a contingent from Tates Creek is COMPLETELY different than having an Ohio powerhouse show up in full force.
The night began on the Tim Couch Practice Fields with a variety of combine testing, including the 40 yard dash and the vertical jump. After getting raw test scores, the campers made the walk to CWS to perform more drills. A 50 minute individual drill session ensued; the basic bag and ladder drills were performed before working with position coaches on specific techniques for their respective position. For some players like Bowling Green WR Nacarius Fant, it was the opportunity to prove to the coaches that he can perform at the Elite SEC level. Fant will be talking with the staff later this week and is expecting to receive his scholarship offer, which should be enough for the Top-10 Kentucky prospect to commit to UK. Fant wasn’t the only local talent to receive first-class treatment from the staff, with Madison Southern’s dynamic Damien Harris (who I will be profiling tomorrow) performing for the staff and the crowd.
Not all of UK’s high-profile talent competed in drills last night. Members of the Class of 2014 like Thaddeus Snodgrass and Mikel Horton already have their ticket punched, roaming the sidelines to support their future teammates. The Class of 2013 arrived on campus earlier this week, wasting no time joining in on supporting the Cats’ recruits. The presence of Jeff Badet, Ryan Timmons, and Jojo Kemp could only be surpassed by Za’darius Smith’s shadow. The football program is taking a page from Cal’s ‘La Familia’ book, creating a family atmosphere inside the walls of CWS.
I thought it may take some time before we could measure the success of the camp, but after Denzel Ware re-committed this morning there is no doubt the night was a HUGE success. Sources tell KSR that it is only the first commitment as a result of the camp, with one or two more big-name recruits to follow Ware’s lead in the days to come. As always, stay tuned to KSR for breaking recruiting news.