On February 3rd, Kentucky will unveil its new additions. As the time this post was sent to the KSR editorial staff, Mark Stoops currently has 24 commitments and/or early enrollees, ranked 30th overall by the 247 Composite Rankings.
-Stephen Johnson II JUCO early enrollee
-Gunnar Hoak early enrollee
-OT Tate Leavitt JUCO early enrollee
-C Drake Jackson early enrollee
-OT Landon Young
-OL Luke Fortner
-Dakota Holtzclaw early enrollee
-Kayaune Ross JUCO
-MLB Kash Daniel early enrollee
-OLB Jordan Bonner JUCO
-MLB Roland Walder
-OLB Jamar “Boogie” Watson
-DT Ja’Quize Cross
-DT Kordell Looney
-NT Naquez Pringle JUCO
-WDE Jaylin Bannerman
What’s next? At this stage in the game, programs can go in three directions…
1. Target and sign best available players on their big board. These signees are claimed regardless of position as teams focus on overall upgrading roster talent.
2. Continue to recruit, flip, and sign positions of most need. Looking from afar, all three defensive line positions would fit into this category (Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, Nose Tackle). With 2.5 Tackles for Loss and 1 QB Sack returning, DL will be priority one going into the first Wednesday in February. Expect to see late Junior College additions.
3. Sign under the radar players with peripheral circumstances. 2015’s OLB Josh Allen and DB Will Jackson fit in this mold. Allen due to moving from Alabama to New Jersey between his junior and senior season as well as a position change. Jackson missed his junior season and was not evaluated.
Win/loss results have frustrated a portion of the BBN fan base. Understandable. However, it’s undeniable that Mark Stoops’ staff has recruited at an unprecedented level. The 2016 Class has been strategically recruited to specific need in order to correct current personnel limitations. Defensive line was mentioned above.
Quarterback is another. One returning signal caller has taken game snaps. In 2015, Drew Barker completed 50% of his passes, threw 2 INT’s, 1 TD, and finished the season with a 92.7 Quarterback Efficiency Rating. Most likely, Barker will improve under the tutelage of Darin Hinshaw. However fair or not, his two-year stay in Lexington poses too much of a risk to not have contingency plans. Enter Stephen Johnson and Gunnar Hoak. Looming is another Spring Practice quarterback competition.
Stay tuned for updates over the next 15 days.