Led by Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow, the Kentucky football program has quickly developed a reputation as one of the best – if not the best – schools recruiting the state of Ohio outside of Ohio State.
Despite Ohio being right in the backyard of high-profile programs in the Big Ten such as Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State, UK has found a way to continuously out-recruit them all for the state’s top prospects.
If they’re not going to Ohio State, the numbers show Kentucky has solidified itself as an exceptional alternative.
In fact, Ari Wasserman of The Athletic – who covers Ohio State football specifically – wrote an in-depth profile discussing the matter, traveling all the way to Lexington to talk to Stoops and Marrow about taking over as a “Big Ten Killer.”
“I know this — I did my research when I walked into this job,” Mark Stoops said told Wasserman when asked about what he saw in Kentucky when he left his defensive coordinator position at Florida State to head to Lexington. “As I was analyzing the job, and I saw the players Michigan State was winning with and the players Wisconsin was winning with, darn good Ohio players, I saw the opening, the potential.”
From there, Kentucky’s status as the “Big Ten Killer” was solidified.
“The only team we have to track in Ohio is Ohio State because if they want an Ohio kid and recruit him the right way from the beginning, they are likely going to get them. But every other team, I’m not worried about them because we have beaten all of them for recruits in Ohio,” Marrow told The Athletic, “What’s going on at other schools? I’m not going to say anything. You can come up with your own conclusion by what you see in the numbers. The proof is in the pudding.”
After all, the Buckeyes can only sign 25 players each recruiting class like the rest of college football.
“Ohio State can’t take them all,” Marrow told Wasserman. “That’s always going to be true.”
The Athletic then highlighted a moment talking to Marrow at his desk, pointing out a list of the high schools in Ohio written on a white board that the Kentucky coaching staff has focused on recruiting.
When Marrow is at his desk, there’s a white board on the wall that catches his attention. Written on that board are the names of 13 high schools in Ohio, some of which have players who already have committed to Kentucky, others who have targets the Wildcats want.
“That’s our territory,” Marrow said. “We are in Kentucky and there is good football here. We are always going to want the good players in Kentucky, but Ohio is our base. That’s where our talent is coming from.”
To read the entire piece highlighting Kentucky’s success in Ohio, how it came to fruition, and what Stoops and Marrow think about it all, check it out on The Athletic right here.