On February 3rd, Kentucky’s Class of 2016 will be in the books. Across the college football landscape, the final seven days leading up to National Fax Day is filled with promise and apprehension. For coaches, it can be best described as 168 hours of adrenaline and coffee driven exhilaration. 2015 was known as the Year of the Flip. “Flip” is the term used to describe a prospect that is committed to one school then changes his mind to later sign with another. Mark Stoops and staff have effectively kept their incoming class mostly intact.
Until the fax comes through the old trusty machine that’s only kept on the property book for National Signing Day, a verbal commitment is about as binding as a New Year’s resolution.
Here are four factors to watch for over the course of the next seven days:
1. Focus will be on signing a junior college defensive lineman
In particular, JJ Holmes. Holmes is a plug and play, versatile defender with the ability to rush the passer. This weekend Holmes is scheduled to visit Missouri, but there is good news for UK — Mizzou’s defensive line coach Chris Wilson just accepted a job with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In addition to Holmes, there could be another JUCO DL that is flying under the radar. In recruiting, contingency plans are mandatory.
2. Kentucky must hold on to Kordell Looney
While Looney has indicated that he’s a solid commit, there will be late, Big 10 suitors. Jordan Griffin can be added to this situation. For both personnel and perception significance, signing a highly sought after 4-star prospect from the state of Georgia is of high importance.
One thing that isn’t helping — UK is on the road at Kansas. Mark Stoops’ staff must monitor currently committed players that are influenced into taking last-minute official visits. IF the Jayhawks were playing the Cats in Rupp, the last official visit weekend could have acted as an emphatic deal closing catalyst.
3. Lure a player away
Just as other programs will be trying to pry away UK commits, Kentucky will counter by attempting to lure away specific need prospects. All is fair in love, war, and football recruiting. There could be last minute additions that will bring on cheers from the Commonwealth Stadium Recruiting Room. Most likely, this will entail defensive linemen or the best athlete available.
4. I don’t foresee a significant number of deflections
Perhaps, National Signing Day may go against the norm and go by script. This class appears to have a solid nucleus and internal leadership. As for where it will finish in national rankings is yet to be determined. And, that ranking is also tied to your personal preference on which recruiting service you most trust. After participating in the past two UK Signing Day Shows, I felt that Class of 2015 was Stoops’ best work to date. That unpopular assessment brought on debate and vast disagreement. Five starters, three additional contributors, and two Freshman All Americans later, I stand by the statement. 2016 has the potential to not only surpass ’15, it could be done so in a rout.
February 3rd UK’s Signing Day Show can be viewed on www.UKAthletics.com starting at 8am. UK will release details, but I can assure you that this year’s show will exceed the past two in every imaginable measure.