Today’s decision has become more than just where Matt Elam will play collegiate football. Tomorrow’s decision may be a turning point for the University of Kentucky’s football program. During the last 12 months, Mark Stoops and his staff have been phenomenal on the recruiting front. In just under 8 weeks, Stoops took a crumbling program and somehow brought in the 34th best recruiting class in the nation. That seems near-impossible, but they pulled it off. How? By rounding-up the best recruiting staff possible, lead by Vince Marrow. Now here we are a year later, the evening before the biggest recruiting announcement in the history of Kentucky’s football program. Now some may argue that other players’ decisions, such as Tim Couch’s announcement, were more important. While those are valid arguments, today’s technological world has totally changed the game, and here is why.
Since the online world of sports began ranking high school athletes, Kentucky has never, NEVER signed a five-star recruit in football. That’s almost hard to believe, thinking that an SEC school has never brought in a five-star football player. Then again we are Kentucky football, but that statement may soon change for the better (hopefully). Doing some quick research, I had to see it to believe it. Going back through the archives of most of the recruiting databases, I found that since the early 2000’s, Kentucky football has had zero players with a five-star rating. I could have sworn that Micah Johnson was a five-star recruit coming out of Ft. Campbell, KY. Nope. How about another not-so-shocking fact? From the years 2002-2012, Kentucky had only signed 14 four-star football recruits. Anybody recall how many Mark Stoops has either got to commit or sign in the last year? Seven! According to the composites’ averages, Stoops’ Troops have brought in 5 years worth of four-star talent in a little over 12 months. That’s called getting the job done right! While the results on the field have yet to reach desirable levels, they will. Rebuilding a football program takes a long time, luckily for us, Stoops has it kicked into overdrive. Wins are coming folks, just be patient.
Then that brings us back to John Hardin’s five-star defensive tackle, Matt Elam. All of Big Blue Nation will have their ears listening to KSR at noon, hoping to hear Elam pick UK. If that happens, it will be a first of hopefully many five-stars to come in the future. Not only would he be Kentucky’s first five-star recruit within the current ranking model, but he would also be giving Kentucky its first major recruiting victory over the powerhouse that is Roll Tide. For years, many have said that you simply could not recruit top talent in the SEC at Kentucky. The same was also said about South Carolina before the ole’ ball coach took over, and we know how that program has turned it around. With Elam’s commitment to Kentucky, Stoops finally can say “Look, it’s not impossible to recruit against teams like Alabama, LSU, and Florida.” The addition of Elam to the defensive front will be a huge gain alone, but the hurdle over Alabama and the five-star recruit goose egg will be far greater in the future. It would prove that UK can stand its own ground while recruiting in the SEC, bringing in some of the nation’s top talent. With social media being as big as it is, recruits across the nation will see Kentucky beat out Alabama for a top talent. On top of that, it would also be a huge boost to the “come be a hero” slogan in-state, if players like Barker, Timmons, and possibly Elam succeed while at Kentucky.
If Elam does decide to play football for the blue and white, it will vault Kentucky’s current class ranking inside the top 20 nationally. UK is currently ranked 23rd with their composite score currently at 219.20 points, following tonight’s big Yahtzee! The addition of three-star offensive lineman Jervontius Stallings didn’t alter the composite score much, but his commitment would solidify Kentucky as a top 20 class depending upon Elam’s decision. Using the 247sports.com class calculator, Matt Elam would add about another six points overall to Kentucky’s total composite score. That would give the Wildcats the 19th best ranking with 225.06 composite points, just ahead of South Carolina whom has 223.47. Once again, that would be another first in the history of Kentucky football – landing a top 20 recruiting class.
With the renovations to Commonwealth Stadium and the newly announced practice facility proposal, the university is definitely proving that it is “All-in” for its football program. Will Elam be another plus which will help steer this program in the right direction? I guess we will find out in about 14 hours.