Over the course of the Mark Stoops era at Kentucky, the coaching staff’s recruiting philosophy has changed quite a bit. At the beginning, they tried to sign any and all of the the top three and four-star prospects they could get their hands on, no matter where they came from.
As they’ve established themselves on the recruiting trail and wins are coming at a more consistent rate, the staff has been able to be a bit more selective with high-level prospects and their focus has shifted a bit.
Among many other areas of focus, keeping Kentucky’s top high school talents in-state has become one of the staff’s biggest priorities as of late.
After signing five in-state talents in 2019, they’ve already got two of the top 2020 prospects in the state committed to Kentucky in John Young and Beau Allen for 2020. And it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon.
In an interview with KSR this morning, Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow said that Mark Stoops told him specifically that he needed to recruit the state of Kentucky harder and keep them from going to other local schools.
“When Mark Stoops came to me last year, he was like, “We need your presence more in Kentucky.” We were losing a lot of the top guys, they were going other places.”
According to Marrow, that momentum shift happened back in 2016 when Kentucky defeated Louisville on the road with Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the Cardinals.
Ever since, recruiting in-state talent has come easy for the UK coaching staff.
“I think when we beat Louisville two years ago with Lamar [Jackson] down there, it showed people we were on the right track,” he said. “But still, we had to really get down and recruit harder in Louisville. I think in the past, we were recruiting kids [from there], and they were using negative stuff against us. I’m not going to go into what they were saying, but once I went down there and cleaned that up, it improved.”
Marrow said that in the past, Louisville negatively recruited against Kentucky, which hurt them with some of the local talents. Now, he has found a way to combat that.
“Louisville, being a city school, they were getting a lot of inner-city kids,” he said. “I don’t know what they were telling them, but I tell them now, “Look, we had the first African-American players in this league. We have a very diverse culture.”‘
A big part of that, he says, was Bobby Petrino’s old coaching staff at Louisville and what he was feeding some of the in-state kids on the recruiting trail.
“And that was the old staff, not the new staff,” he said. “I don’t mind some of the guys on the new staff.”
To put it simply, he wasn’t a fan of Petrino and his assistants.
Not in the slightest.
“No, [I wasn’t a fan of the old staff at UofL],” Marrow said. “No. Not at all. Not at all.”
We couldn’t agree more, Vince.