This weekend, Vince Marrow turned down the opportunity to join Jim Harbaugh’s rebuilding efforts at Michigan to stay with Mark Stoops at Kentucky. Marrow has had many suitors since coming to Kentucky two seasons ago, but rejecting the Wolverines in favor of staying at UK sends the strongest message yet about the future of Kentucky football. Here are five reasons Marrow staying at Kentucky is a huge, huge deal:
1. The obvious: recruiting
In Stoops’ three recruiting classes at Kentucky, Vince Marrow has been responsible for 21 of 66 commitments, all from Ohio. By Rivals’ rankings, under Stoops, UK has brought in 17 four-star recruits; nine of them were Marrow’s. Marrow is so persuasive he’s also helped pry three huge players from his former school of Nebraska: Braylon Heard, Courtney Love, and Greg Hart. 247 Sports considers him the 41st best recruiter in the country, although his value to a program like Kentucky is much, much higher than that.
2. It helps keep Kentucky keep a foothold in the state of Ohio
With Ohio State in the National Championship game and Michigan presumably on the rise, losing Marrow would have been a huge blow to Kentucky’s growing foothold in Ohio. Keeping Marrow on board will keep Kentucky in the conversation for the Buckeye State’s elite players as an appealing alternative to the big name programs due to early playing time and a chance to play in the SEC. With Marrow, UK has 21 commitments from Ohio in three recruiting classes; in the five recruiting classes before Marrow, UK had six.
3. Turning down Michigan sends a strong message
Michigan landing Jim Harbaugh was a huge story in college football, with many likening it to Nick Saban going to Alabama in 2007. Harbaugh and the Wolverines are sparing no expense in putting together a premiere staff, and it was clear that Harbaugh wanted Marrow. Marrow turning down a storied program with national championship potential to stay at Kentucky sends a message to the rest of college football that he believes in Mark Stoops and Kentucky football.
4. Continued momentum heading into Signing Day
Losing Marrow to Michigan would have definitely slowed UK’s momentum heading into Signing Day, and could potentially have caused several of UK’s 2015 commitments to look elsewhere (Marrow is responsible for seven of UK’s 2015 commitments). Keeping Marrow on board is a strong sign of continuity and keeps the train rolling with several big announcements coming up, including Damien Harris on Friday and Marcus Lewis in the coming weeks.
5. We can keep using this GIF
Because it never gets old.