When recruits walk into Mark Stoops’ office, the first thing they see is a portrait of his former first round NFL Draft picks. This weekend Josh Allen will be the next person added to the poster that overlooks his desk.
“He’ll be on the board, probably front and center,” Stoops said Tuesday. “He ranks right up there as one of the great players I had an opportunity to coach, there’s no question about that. There’s no doubt that he will be a successful pro, just because of the way he lives his life, the way he is driven to be great.”
Not every prospective recruit is privy to see that picture in Stoops’ office. The best of the best will likely spend some time there while officially visiting this weekend. Those who are not yet at the top of the recruiting big board will see another Josh Allen poster when they watch the NFL Draft.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” Stoops said. “Our university and our guys did that for him, and really for the program to get us some more exposure.”
The face of the Kentucky football program over the last year, Allen and his teammates have given Kentucky name recognition in new places around the country.
“Without a doubt, it just helps us. With what Josh is doing, the way he represented us, the national awards that he won, all that exposure, it does nothing but help us. Of course all of the other players — Benny, Lonnie, Mike, Darius, Derrick Baity, you can go on and on — I’m just proud of all of them,” said Stoops.
You can go on and on and on, unlike any other time in the history of the Kentucky football program. Anywhere between six and nine former Wildcats are expected to be picked in the NFL Draft. Kentucky has not had more than four players picked in one draft since 1979. There were eight players picked in 1979, but the draft had almost twice as many rounds 40 years ago. Since the draft changed to a seven-round format in 1994, Kentucky’s four picks in 2008 are the high watermark.
Before UK’s prospects make history, many have spent their time working out at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. Throughout the spring, recruits have been in and out of the facility. During their tours, high school athletes and their parents have been able to meet many of UK’s future pros. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but it could be a huge deal to a 15-year old from the Bluegrass or a four-star All-American currently committed to Miami.
— Michael Tunsil (@coachtunsil) March 18, 2019
Kentucky’s historic draft class is moving on to bigger and better things. As they transition into professional careers, the leaders are leaving the program better than they found it.
“I’ll never forget what they’ve done for us,” Stoops said. “They had great leadership and that’s why we were successful. That’s the foundation we gotta continue to build on. We’re worried about a program, not just a team, but a program, building a program.”