2014 National Signing Day Recap
Feb. 6, 2014
A replay of the live coverage, including video and live blog, are available on the archive of our live National Signing Day page.
Cat Scratches: Stoops, staff deliver record class on 'critical' Signing Day
Mark Stoops has never been short on confidence.
From the moment he arrived in Lexington, Stoops has declared in no uncertain terms his belief in his vision, his belief in Kentucky football.
But to reel in the best class in school history barely a year into his tenure? To piece together a group that fits perfectly in terms of both personnel and character?
"If I'm honest, we maybe had a little bit better success than I thought this quick," Stoops said.
All 28 members of UK's 2014 signing class -- 16 of which are rated four-star prospects by at least one major outlet -- sent in valid National Letters of Intent before 11 a.m. ET, short-circuiting some of the drama typical of Signing Day. None of the coaches or support staff at the Nutter Training Facility for an unprecedented live webcast of the event seemed to mind.
At last check, the Kentucky class ranks 15th nationally according to Rivals.com, 20th according to both ESPN.com and Scout.com and 22nd according to 247sports.com.
"I knew we'd recruit good players," Stoops said. "Where it was rated and all that and the publicity, I like it, and it helps our program and all that, but, again, that's not what I'm out for. I'm out to get great players to help build this program day in and day out." ... read the full story
|Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Hometown (Last School)|
|Dorian Baker||Highlights||WR||6-3||205||Cleveland Heights, Ohio (Cleveland Heights)|
|Drew Barker||Highlights||QB||6-3||217||Burlington, Ky. (Conner)|
|Blake Bone||Highlights||WR||6-5||200||Woodruff, S.C. (Woodruff)|
|Tymere Dubose||Highlights||DE||6-5||280||Youngstown, Ohio (Youngstown Christian)|
|Mike Edwards||Highlights||DB||5-11||185||Cincinnati, Ohio (Winton Woods )|
|Matt Elam||Highlights||DT||6-7||375||Elizabethtown, Ky. (John Hardin)|
|Nico Firios||Highlights||LB||6-2||220||Longwood, Fla. (Lyman)|
|Ryan Flannigan||Highlights||LB||6-3||230||Missouri City, Texas (Marshall/Blinn College)|
|Dorian Hendrix||Highlights||LB||6-0||230||Huber Heights, Ohio (Wayne)|
|Mikel Horton||Highlights||RB||6-1||223||West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West)|
|Cory "C.J." Johnson||Highlights||DT||6-3||275||Columbia, S.C. (Chambersburg (Pa.)/ ASA College)|
|Garrett Johnson||Highlights||WR||5-11||175||Winter Garden, Fla. (West Orange)|
|Josh Krok||Highlights||OL||6-8||325||Niles, Ohio (McKinley)|
|Jarrett LaRubbio||Highlights||OL||6-6||280||Middletown, Ohio (Lakota East)|
|Darryl Long||Highlights||TE||6-4||225||Westerville, Ohio (South)|
|Adrian Middleton||Highlights||DT||6-3||275||Bowling Green, Ky. (South Warren)|
|Kendall Randolph||Highlights||DB||6-0||175||Tallahassee, Fla. (Lincoln)|
|Nick Richardson||Highlights||OL||6-4||270||Westerville, Ohio (Central HS)|
|Thaddeus Snodgrass||Highlights||WR||6-1||180||Springfield, Ohio (Springfield)|
|Jervontius "Bunchy" Stallings||Highlights||OL||6-3||320||Hoover, Ala. (Spain Park)|
|A.J. Stamps||Highlights||CB||6-0||190||Vicksburg, Miss. (Vicksburg/East Mississippi CC)|
|Lloyd Tubman||Highlights||DE||6-5||225||Louisville, Ky. (Seneca HS)|
|Jared Tucker||Highlights||DB||5-11||170||Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson)|
|Kobie Walker||Highlights||LB||6-3||200||Olney, Md. (Our Lady of Good Counsel)|
|Denzel Ware||Highlights||DE||6-2||240||Crestview, Fla. (Senior)|
|Darius West||Highlights||DB||6-0||200||Lima, Ohio (Central Catholic)|
|Stanley "Boom" Williams||Highlights||RB||5-9||190||Monroe, Ga. (George Walton Academy)|
|T.V. Williams||Highlights||WR||5-10||165||McKinney, Texas (McKinney)|
COACH STOOPS: Excited to have everybody here. Great day for us. To wrap up this 2014 class, you know, just a great day. We feel like we closed just like we started, just very strong.
We signed players from ten different states. Really feel good about what we did in Kentucky. I said that a year ago. I said that in my opening press conference about how important it was to recruit this state. So to sign the top four guys in the state this year was very important to us.
Big defensive class, 15 guys, 6 D-linemen. Offensively, 13 guys with 4 O-linemen. Obviously, that was important. So the seven guys that are here are off to a good start. Very excited about this group.
Q. Re: Lloyd Tubman
COACH STOOPS: Very, very important. We liked Lloyd a lot. Recruited him for a full year. Again, I think he's one of the top players in the state, a great football player. And he's a great student and a fine young man. So very important for us to get Lloyd.
Q. [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS: That's a great point, and I think it's fair to say that I thought about that as well. And I just felt like this first year -- if you go back to last year -- I'm not counting my first six weeks. I was scrambling, putting together last year's class. From signing day last year to today, I thought it was absolutely critical to have a great year.
And, obviously, we talked about the season. You know we need to improve there and play better, and we expect to do that. But with recruiting, I thought this was going to lay the foundation to turn this program, and it was a very critical year, and I felt like we really had to hit the pavement and recruit extremely hard. Could not be more proud of this staff and the way they went about their business.
It was a complete team effort. These guys are very unselfish. They work extremely hard. The reason -- one of the reasons why we had this success is because people come in and get to know us and know this staff, and these guys put in the time. It's not work to them. It's building relationships.
Believe me, it's not always easy. They may get phone calls at midnight. They may get phone calls at -- trying to have dinner with their families, put their kids down. It's a lot of time involved, and these guys were very unselfish and did a very good job. And we did a great job of team recruiting. When a player or a prospect or a family was on campus, the people felt comfortable.
Q. You made a statement in Ohio. Can you talk about that?
COACH STOOPS: I didn't set out to make a statement with that. Again, I told you that we're going to recruit at a high level and recruit the best players we can. I think it's very important -- when Mitch and I talked right from the very beginning, that was one of the things he and I discussed was recruiting within a six-hour radius of this school.
There's a lot of people you can get to in a day's drive from here. And with me being from Ohio, that was easy. With Coach (Vince) Marrow and myself being from Ohio, with just the proximity with southern Ohio being so easy access, you can get to an awful lot of people in Ohio with a short drive.
Q. Are you happy with the success you had there?
COACH STOOPS: Very. Very pleased. There's a lot of good football players in Ohio, and the coach -- there's very good coaching and very tough kids. So we anticipate them coming in and giving us that element that we need to continue to build on.
Q. [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS: You know what, I'm really -- that's just the sound bite for me to say what it says. I'm really not worried about that. I'm worried about doing a great job recruiting at a high level, competing with anybody on the field or off. And that's the way we're going to go about our business.
So I don't do it just to have that one sound bite to say that we're here or anything like that. I mean, we're just going about our business.
Q. You've taken a "why not" approach. When I talked to the guys earlier today, they said they thought, Why not? Why not us? Is that sort of the slogan for this group?
COACH STOOPS: I didn't come up with that slogan. I thought our marketing people did a great job with that, but I agree with it. Why not? What the heck? Let's go. So that's kind of the approach we've had since we've been here. We're not here to play seconds to anybody. We're here to compete at a high level in a great conference, and there's a lot of challenges to that.
So we understand that. We take it very seriously, and we go to work every day to get better.
Q. Mark, do you feel like you've significantly upgraded your offense with this class?
COACH STOOPS: I do. I felt like -- again, I like to always start with the lines because it's so critical, and those guys need some time to develop, you know, sometimes. Some guys are ready to go right away.
But in general, when you're recruiting ten guys on the O-line and D-line, some of those guys are going to need a year or two to develop. So I think it's very critical to always have numbers in your front.
But offensively with the playmakers we signed, we desperately needed them, as you know. Let's start with the quarterback with Drew Barker. He's an incredible player, he's from this state, and his leadership is off the chart. So he has all the intangibles to make a difference.
Running back with Mikel (Horton) and Boom (Williams), they're a great blend. Mikel is so physical. I loved everything about him the minute I saw him, on tape, and then we saw him in person. He's the type of guy that's more impressive with his pads on, and he was quite impressive with his camp, just his agility, catching the ball, how light on his feet he was. So we love him.
And Boom is a guy that changes the scoreboard. And Coach (Jimbo) Fisher used to use that phrase a lot with offensive guys, and I agree with him. I think that's the type of guy that can make people miss, that can put some points on the board.
And I don't want to short the wideouts because I thought we hit a home run with the wide receivers, and we desperately needed them. We got great size. We got guys that are shifty and just competitors. So I love the wideouts as well and the tight end.
Q. Coach, as far as Matt Elam, what do you believe he can be for your program?
COACH STOOPS: He's very important. Matt was very important for a lot of reasons. I think just his talent, if you want to look at him on the field. He has great size. It's very rare, to find somebody that's 6'5" plus, 6'5-1/2", whatever Matt's weighing right now. But he can -- he's so athletic and so agile, and he's very explosive. So he's a difference maker on the field.
I said it earlier, that there's -- make no mistake about it. It's important because he's from our state and he's a great player. I think it's important to know that we can go head to head and win some recruiting battles against the best teams in the country.
I think it's important to lay the foundation for future recruits of Kentucky to say why not come to Kentucky and build this program?
Q. What was your level of confidence prior to him making his commitment?
COACH STOOPS: I felt good about it, but you never -- you never really know. Until you get his commitment verbally and you get it in public, you never know. He and I have had some great discussions over this past year. I've really enjoyed getting to know him and his family.
And that's the other point when talking about Matt. He has the ability to make other players better, and any great player, you've heard that talked about a lot. But any great player, they affect other people, and Matt has that ability to affect other people, to make them -- I think on the field, wanting to play better, maybe to play beside him, but he does a lot of good things. It's been a joy getting to recruit him, and he's going to have a real positive effect on our program.
Q. You didn't recruit any linebackers in last year's class and you sort of lamented that. This year you sort of made up for it. Is that a position where guys can play right away? You obviously need them.
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, we do need some. I think we continue to work with the guys we have on campus, and we need to bring in some new talent that can help us. It definitely was an area of need.
Q. Mark, what's your assessment of Adrian Middleton? Secondly, you haven't been here that long, but it's pretty unusual for the state of Kentucky to kick off the number of defensive linemen.
COACH STOOPS: We loved Adrian from the start. We had Adrian, saw him in person last summer, and we just liked the way he played. He had great size. He's a guy that kind of goes under the radar because he's kind of quiet but just goes about his business.
Again, comes from a great family, very good student, and just a hard worker. He's a guy that could play D-end or eventually play D-tackle. So he's very versatile.
Q. How do you explain the attitude of high school recruits now, their receptiveness to your program?
COACH STOOPS: It has to do with a lot of things. I think it's easier in some ways because of all the social media that you have. These players understand what we're doing. I'll tell you, we're working right now for 2015, and the 2015 recruits know what's going on with 2014. That has an effect.
Again, it's all this information they get very quickly. I think our people do a great job here with the marketing. I think our people in my office, whether it's Dan Berezowitz in recruiting, in the material and the information he gets out, whether it's through the website, Twitter, or just the mailings, he's very creative and works extremely hard.
And I think it has a lot to do with the commitment from our administration. I've said that time and time again, but it's the truth. To build a program, you've got to have support from the top down. We have that support starting with our president, and that's obvious with all the building and construction that's going on on campus. It's evident with our athletic director in Mitch Barnhart, and the commitment that he's given myself and this staff and these football players to be successful with the renovations of our stadium and with the new football facility.
Q. Who would have thought a year ago that it was possible to have a higher recruiting class than Oklahoma, Texas, USC?
COACH STOOPS: If I'm honest, we maybe had a little bit better success than I thought this quick. I knew we'd recruit good players. Where it was rated and all that and the publicity, I like it, and it helps our program and all that, but, again, that's not what I'm out for. I'm out to get great players to help build this program day in and day out.
Q. Who was your turning point in this whole process? When did you really start to see things kind of snowball in recruiting?
COACH STOOPS: I think with Drew (Barker). I think with Drew I felt like that was a big part of it because of the quarterback and the way he was a natural leader and he wanted to recruit other players. We joked about that, and I saw articles and people joking about him being the unofficial recruiting coordinator, but that was all on him. I mean, we don't direct him to do that. We're not allowed to direct him to do that, nor would I do it.
He just has that ability to be a leader, and he wanted other great players around him. You know, I said that a year ago as well. Players want to be around other great players.
Q. Can you describe kind of like how that effect was, what the effect was on the recruiting process?
COACH STOOPS: I think first the effect was that he was in state and one of the top players in the state. I thought that was important. I thought it was very important to beat quality schools on him and to know that Drew can play just about anywhere in the country. I don't know where he had scholarships to but an awful lot of them, and the fact that we beat some really good teams for him gives you that credibility and starts that snowball effect a little bit to have that. You know, that caught the eye of some other recruits.
Q. Did it seem like the guys that we talked to early, not just Drew, but the other guys, they had that personality about them. Is that one of the things, especially when you're selling faith as much as anything right now, Hey, we're going to get it done, that you need that kind of personality on your team?
COACH STOOPS: You do. They've been very solid that way. They've got to have a -- this group is very confident in their ability, but you know what -- and I know they have some fun with the media, which is great. They have the personality, and it's good. It's good for everybody. I want them to be themselves. But as a group, they're also very humble, and I think humility is very important to have that within your program.
I've read a lot of quotes from these guys that caught my eye that they know and understand that this is just the beginning of a lot of work. We've got some good players that's going to help this program, but we've got to go to work now and keep on building and put another great class together and do all the work, whether it be right now in winter if they're here, or the guys that are going to show up in the summer. I think they're very special that way.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Denzel Ware, what you think he can do.
COACH STOOPS: Ware, Denzel, we've known him for some time, recruited him a lot of years. He came to our camp when we were at Florida State years ago, two, three years ago at least, and he was one of the best players in the camp then. We obviously fell in love with him, started recruiting him.
Coach (D.J.) Eliot had a great relationship with Denzel, but he's very versatile. He's extremely explosive. He will play -- people ask me all the time what we'll do with him. He'll put his hand in the dirt, and he'll learn how to play defensive end, but he's also versatile enough to stand up and play some of the things in the three-four and be able to move around and be creative because he has a lot of ability.
I had an opportunity to watch him play basketball a couple weeks ago, and surprisingly, he had a lot of talent. He was good. He knows how to play basketball. It's not just athletic ability out there. He kind of surprised me a little bit. But you did see his athletic ability, his burst, and how strong and how quick he jumps and just all those things. Very talented.
With Kendall (Randolph), another guy that I've known forever. I've known Kendall since he was a freshman at Tallahassee Lincoln. It was a school right down the road from us during my time at Florida State, and that was one of my schools. He's come over to camps, and I've just known him for some time.
We've had a great relationship, and I told him he was just meant to play for me. I didn't know the school, but he was meant to play for me and to play with this team.
He's very excited. He's a great player, very versatile. He was one of those guys that, regardless of whether you were shooting for X amount of DBs or wideouts or whatever it might be, he's just the type of quality person and player that you have to have on your team if you can get him.
Q. The secondary. Clearly you targeted a bunch of defensive players. How do you feel?
COACH STOOPS: I feel very good as a group. What you'll hear me talk about as a group, and I can say that about every one of them, is versatile. I like that in the secondary. I like guys that can play corner, nickel, dime, safety. We do a lot of things, and there's a lot of packages involved in today's football. And that's what I love about this group.
In general, I think they're tough, hard-nosed guys, versatile, and explosive.
Q. Coach, as far as redshirting, does anyone stand out in terms of --
COACH STOOPS: I never know. You never know. You don't want to put any limitation on anybody, and sometimes you're counting on a guy, maybe he's not ready to go. So just never can tell with who's going to come in and contribute. I anticipate there will be some.
Jarrett LaRubbio is recovering from a knee surgery right now. He's one that, if he was healthy, he'd probably be ready to come in and help, but he may need a redshirt just because of the injury.
Q. Speaking of injuries, what about Darius (West)?
COACH STOOPS: Darius should be fine. He had an injury, and it didn't quite heal up the way it needed to. He went back in and had his surgery, and everything should be fine. He just needs time to heal. We need him to be ready. He's a guy that I'd be shocked if he didn't come in and have an immediate impact. Darius is very, very explosive guy.
Q. Mark, wondering how many of these kids may be able to help you this year? [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS: The simple answer is they will help. In what capacity and how much and all that, I don't know. And you know and I know that's the tricky question when you're trying to put -- when you're trying to tally up the wins and losses.
And you know enough about me that I'm never going to put myself in a position to make a prediction on wins and losses and all that, but they will help us. When that reflects and how many wins, I'm not sure.
Q. re: Drew Barker
COACH STOOPS: I fully expect Drew to come in and compete right now. He better -- his butt better be working and throwing right now as we speak. No, I don't think -- I'm not afraid to play Drew if he's ready to go. So we'll see. He'll have a fair shake, and I'm counting on him getting out there and competing.
Q. Earlier you talked about some of his influences on the other guys in the class. And you also said he was talking to Avery Williamson about things he needed to learn. Does he have some of that potential?
COACH STOOPS: He does, just a solid kid. Just very good football player, carries himself the right way, great family. Very important to him. So he's definitely a guy that could have a positive effect on some other players.
Q. T.V. Williams talked about, as far as his weight plan. Is that something that -- how concerned are you about him being able to get up to the kind of weight you'd like to see? What would you like to see him at?
COACH STOOPS: He definitely needs to gain some weight, he knows that. He needs to get in that weight room and eat properly and all that. That's why we have talented people, working with him there. He needs to get stronger and gain some weight. So we'll see.
Again, he's one of those guys that -- you know, he's one of those guys that can make a difference if you give him two, three, four touches a game sometimes. He can make a difference. So we'll see where that goes.
Q. What would you like to see him at weight-wise?
COACH STOOPS: I'm not sure. I let our strength and conditioning people, let Erik (Korem) handle that, but he has some guidelines of good weight that he wants to put on guys.
Q. With the new facility, how much were you able to sort of use that as potentially coming or will be coming soon?
COACH STOOPS: Not a lot. We told them that we had plans to try to get this done, but it wasn't like we had some rendering and we're showing it to them and all that because we weren't sure.
I think they understood that this place was committed.
Q. How does that change the game for you moving forward with that facility?
COACH STOOPS: I think it helps an awful lot. I think putting together such a good class this year and now having that and having shovels in the ground and seeing things happen hopefully will help us in the future here.
Q. [ No microphone ]. One of the reasons he came here is honesty. Do you know exactly what that means? Other staffs are dishonest? What exactly is he saying?
COACH STOOPS: I would never say that. You know, it's really important to me as the head coach -- and we have a great staff, first of all, but we are who we are. People ask me all the time, what's the pitch? We just go about our business and go to work every day, and we are who we are. We don't try to be anything else.
We don't talk bad about other programs. We talk about the good things we're doing here. We get very specific with them. It's not just lip service. It's not just being their buddies and giving them some silver tongued speech. We go in great detail with the plans that we have, offensively, defensively, special teams, how we're going to develop them, how we plan to use them.
I think it's a credit to our staff with how many times they got these guys on campus to build that bond with one another and with the staff.
Q. Mark, along those lines, some of the guys during the practice said that it helped them that you guys kind of braced them for you guys not having success on the field this year. Was that a conscious thing that you guys discussed, how to approach that?
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I think we -- it was something that we had to let them know, that we knew we maybe didn't have a team that was going to go out there and win ten games. Again, I think the message is very clear. We're getting better every day. We're going to compete against anybody on the field or off, and we're just going about our business. We want you to be a part of it.
They bought in, and these guys aren't afraid either.
Q. Re; Change of technology, no longer using fax machine
COACH STOOPS: I may say fax all day, but we didn't use the fax today either. We were using the computer. For us, it's kind of -- the paper comes out of the same printer, so it's just like a fax machine to me. So I don't care. As long as it comes out of that printer and they give us the okay, I was good with it.
Q. What is it about this class that you guys were able to keep things together?
COACH STOOPS: Very unique. This is one of the most unique recruiting experiences I've ever been a part of. This group was so solid for so long. Just like I said in the opening statement, we finished strong, just like we started, with very few hiccups in between. We had our battles, but that's fun. That's what we're here for, to compete every day, and we compete in recruiting.
This group has been so solid. Again, I think it's a testament to the staff. We get them here. We got to know their families. With me going on the road -- and I don't even know exactly how many living rooms I was in, but we got a very high percentage of guys that we brought in here for an official visit, and what we signed was an unusually high percentage. I want to say right in the area of 36 official visits and signed 28.
I mean, so -- and then just to have one decommitment for this entire year with this type of a signing class was very, very unusual. So when I go into all these homes, and usually you're in there trying to close and sell and all those things, but most of the time these guys were ready to go. It was really just a celebration.
So it was nice to get in there with this staff and to go into these prospects' homes and visit with their family. I'm telling you, normally, it's about an hour, hour and a half in there. I'm in there for three hours, three and a half hours, just hanging out with these families spending time, and that was a lot of fun because you could see why the prospects are who they are, because they have great families.
Q. What was sort of the magic number of guys that you felt like were on the fence that you had to pull back in?
COACH STOOPS: I felt -- I was keeping my eye on a couple guys down the stretch here. But, again, that's just how we go about our business. We don't take anything for granted. We recruited every bit as hard last night and today as we did last year or the day after signing day or the whole year.
We recruited from start to finish extremely hard, don't take anything for granted, and go about our business the right way.
Q. [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, I was all excited earlier seeing what we were doing and everything, and somebody told me where we finished in the conference, and I said what? So that's -- hey, that's where we live, and that's why we're excited to be in this conference.
I know Mitch embraces that challenge all the time, and we do as well. We enjoy competing in this conference. It's very difficult, but it's also a lot of fun. We just want to keep on fighting.
Q. When you get Matt Elam into the type of shape you want him to be in, what do you envision him being? Is he going to be more of a play making defensive line or more of a guy that attracts the attention of the offensive line to help let others make plays?
COACH STOOPS: No. I think that's what's very unique about Matt is he is a play maker. He's not just a big body in there taking up space. He is extremely athletic. I'll tell you, when Neal and I went and watched him play, watching him stretch I was amazed because he could sit down and he was so athletic and so limber. He could sit Indian style as he was stretching and just his flexibility amazed me.
And then you watch him play, and he's so explosive, and he finishes plays so well. He knows -- Matt knows he needs to get in shape, and Matt's working on that right now. And I believe it's important for Matt to get in shape, and I believe one of the reasons why we signed Matt is because, again, he looked at what we've done in the past.
He's got Coach (Jimmy) Brumbaugh to work with, who's a disciple of the legendary Pete Jenkins, who we believe in D-line techniques. D.J. Eliot was the D-line coach at Florida State, and I was the defensive coordinator. Now he's got the head coach, the defensive coordinator, and his position coach all speaking the same language on D-line technique.
I think that was a big part of it and something we don't take for granted. We show him exactly the drills we're going to do, how we're going to train him, and how we're going to help him achieve all of his goals.
Q. When you talk about specifics with each individual player, here's what we want to do with you, here's the plan we have for you, not just this is the offense we run.
COACH STOOPS: Right. We like to show them in great details the techniques that we use and how we train them and how it applies to football. That's why it's important to get them on campus and get them around and have them watch a practice if they can, get to camps so they can see us coach them and see the techniques that we use and just our general approach to coaching and all those things.
So we do try to be very specific with them. It's not just -- you know, we build relationships and personal relationships, but it's also we try to go in great detail. Really, that's how we try to go about our business with everything in our program.
Q. Mark, can you just talk about the effect Vince Marrow has.
COACH STOOPS: Vince has done a great job, everybody knows that, and he has a great ability to connect with these recruits and their families. I will say that is a credit to the whole staff. With being from Ohio and myself -- I helped Vince out there too. But being from Ohio and having our whole staff actively recruited every one of those guys.
So I do give Vince credit. That's why he got the promotion that he deserved, but it was a staff. It was a group effort. He does a great job. I said that a year ago. I say it again. He's a joy to go into a home with. He's got that sewed down. You know, it's just fun to go in there.
I will say, again, don't look at just numbers. Look at some of the things this staff did, and it really amazes me. Coach Eliot pulling in Lloyd Tubman at the 12th hour.
Neal Brown and John Schlarman -- everybody was talking about different guys and their obstacles with recruiting that day when the ice storm hit. They were in Alabama, and I'll let him tell you the story. I think they were in the car for four or five hours and went three miles, and they parked their car and walked the last mile to the school, and then they got locked down in the school for the night. So they slept in the school.
Chad Scott going to -- and he would never tell me this. I go to the home visits and just the connection that he has with the family, and seeing him and them talking about how Chad was in their classes, going to class with them from morning all the way through, just sitting in classes. I think they asked him to get up and do some literature or something, and he said that would be a violation. I can't do that. You know Chad doesn't want to talk to anybody.
But just the connection that they all have. Tommy Mainord going in and pulling guys out of the D.C. area and South Carolina, beating quality schools there. I could go on and on. Coach (Bradley Dale) Peveto, all of them. I don't want to slight any of them. I just think all of them did an excellent job.
You don't sign a class like this in the situation we're in without everybody doing their part. And Dan Berezowitz behind the scenes. Dan doesn't like any credit. He doesn't want to hear it. He's a guy that, when I worked at Arizona, he was our recruiting coordinator. He had five kids under the age of 5, and every day after a long day, I'd see him dragging a dolly to his car with four boxes of recruiting material. And after his kids went to bed, he'd be working on that all night.
So those are the kind of guys that help this thing go.
Q. Just finished this class, but these days recruiting is a year round thing. Where are you with that?
COACH STOOPS: We're off and running.
Q. Can you talk about just maybe a couple of priorities for 2015 class?
COACH STOOPS: Good football players. It will be a lot the same, I think. We could always use a home run running back. Know where I can find one? And we're always going to continue to build on O-line and D-line.
And we're just going to continue to recruit quality players and guys that are good leaders. But we're going to need help in a lot of positions again. We'll have a pretty good sized class again next year. I don't know if it will be this big, but it will be a good group.
Q. re: injury situation for spring
COACH STOOPS: Yeah, Max (Smith) is going to be banged up. I don't think he'll get to compete at all this spring. So that's going to hurt us and hurt Max, but other than that, guys are getting healthy.
TraVaughn (Paschal) is getting a procedure done that will probably keep him out of spring as well. But overall the group is doing extremely well. We're very excited about their attitude, their work ethic. I think we're doing some very good things in the off-season trying to continue to promote and develop leadership, and the guys just really have a good attitude.
They're really going about their business the right way in the weight room. Coaches are back off the road. We're allowed to start meeting with them and having our winter conditioning program go. So good things are happening.
Q. Can you talk about position changes?
COACH STOOPS: Let me save that for later. I really haven't thought much about that, to be honest with you.
Q. Re; replacing the fax machine
COACH STOOPS: You're stuck on that fax deal, huh?
Q. So how do you get it?
COACH STOOPS: Where's Brez? I don't know. They faxed his e-mail on a computer, and then he just prints it off. But, again, to me it's the same printer as the fax machine was. So it comes off the same way. But we get it through the e-mail first, and then we print it off and all that.
As we're getting those faxes in and everything -- you hear me. I'll probably talk about that for years, fax. But as we're getting the documents in, it's just sometimes they may forget to date it here or put the time in right and all those things. So we've got to make sure it's all done properly before we release it.
Q. You say Tubman is sort of a Jason Hatcher type role?
COACH STOOPS: Lloyd, I think, is a guy that's very versatile. We plan on keeping him where he's at. He's a defensive end. He's going to learn to play with his hand down. He is versatile enough to stand up. But he's going to be a very, very big guy very quick. He's 6'4-1/2" now, and he's going to put on weight, and he's got a great frame. Very excited about Lloyd.
Q. What can you expect from Mike Edwards?
COACH STOOPS: Mike is another guy we just loved from the very beginning. Very good player. Watched him practice in basketball, very explosive, very quick. Mike plays very nasty. He'll come up and strike you. Just a very versatile guy that I really like.
Q. [ No microphone ].
COACH STOOPS: Again, just wrapping up and saying just appreciate a lot of people's efforts. From the hotels we stay at here with our recruits and the service they give us to the people that feed us our meals in the restaurants, the staff, our administration, so many people behind the scenes, it's a fun day because we kind of put a wrap on a lot of hard work, but then it gives us that excitement to build for next year and where we're headed.
But just want to reiterate how much I appreciate this coaching staff. To this point, we've been able to keep everybody in place. I hope to do that. They're very talented group with a great work ethic, but they've done a great job and appreciate all of you. Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Dorian Baker, Wide Receiver, 6-3, 205, Fr-HS, Cleveland Heights, Ohio (Cleveland Heights) – A four-star prospect according to Rivals.com who is a mixture of size and speed at wide receiver … Rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rivals.com ranks him the 16th-best prospect in the state of Ohio and 42nd-best wide receiver in the nation … Had 24 receptions as a senior for 573 yards and six touchdowns … Averaged 23.9 yards per reception his senior year, including a season-long reception of 66 yards … Helped lead his team to the state playoffs two of the last three seasons, including the school’s first-ever playoff win his senior season … Team finished with a 10-2 record … Coached by Jeff Rotsky … Chose Kentucky after numerous offers, including Indiana, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Illinois and Vanderbilt.
Coach Stoops says: “Dorian is definitely going to be the big, strong receiver we need. I love how physical he plays.”
Drew Barker, Quarterback, 6-3, 217, Fr-HS, Burlington, Ky. (Conner) – One of the most prolific performers in Kentucky high school history … Strong-armed, accurate passer who also made plays with his legs … Four-year letterman and three-year starter at Conner HS in Hebron, Ky. … Led Conner to the state quarterfinals as a sophomore and the second round of the playoffs as a junior and senior … During his career, completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 6,264 yards and 62 touchdowns … Ran for 3,931 yards and 51 TDs … Threw for 2,671 yards and 34 scores during stellar senior season … First-team all-state by The Associated Press … Named to the “Class of the Commonwealth” team by the Lexington Herald-Leader … Finalist for “Mr. Football” … District Player of the Year … Four-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … The No. 1 prospect in Kentucky according to Rivals and the No. 6 quarterback in the nation … Attended the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp during the summer of 2013 … Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January, 2014 … Completed 4 of 6 passes for 54 yards and led two touchdown drives for the winning West team … Coached by Dave Trosper, who said, “Drew has an exceptional arm, one of the best I’ve seen in 22 years (of coaching), and great touch. I’ve always said that good players become great by being a hard worker and student of the game. That’s what separates him – he’s a student of the game.” … All-district honoree in basketball … Honor-roll student …Member of the Future Business Leaders of America … Did community service work with the Never Give Up Foundation … After numerous scholarship offers, chose Kentucky over South Carolina and Tennessee … “Staying at home and representing the state,” Barker said of his decision. “I know that the coaching staff will bring in good players. This is the best decision for me athletically and academically.”
Coach Stoops says: “It was very important (to sign him) because Drew is one of the top players in the state along with being a national recruit. It’s very important to get great players from your home state. Not only is he an Elite 11 quarterback he also has the leadership skills we look for in a quarterback.”
Blake Bone, Wide Receiver, 6-5, 200, Fr-HS, Woodruff, S.C. (Woodruff) – A four-star recruit by Rivals.com and three-star prospect by 247Sports.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rivals.com ranks him the ninth-best player in the state of South Carolina and the 49th-best wide receiver in the nation … Scout.com’s Kerry Fair says of Bone, “Should he continue his rate of growth and improvement we’re comfortable saying he’ll be a national level recruit … really smooth athlete with good size who will continue to add weight, get stronger and faster. Utilizes his size and body control well” … ESPN.com give him high marks for his hands and catching in traffic … First-team Class AAA all-state as a senior by the High School Sports Report … Had 72 receptions for 1,247 yards and eight touchdowns … Was selected to play in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … Also played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, matching the South Carolina vs. North Carolina all-stars, and caught seven passes for 55 yards … Great junior year featured 65 catches for 1,150 yards and 14 touchdowns … Was named all-state, all-conference and all-county as a sophomore with 60 receptions for 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns, helping his team to the state title game … Coached by Brian Lane … Also an all-state performer in basketball as a junior as selected by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association … Picked Kentucky after offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Louisville, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
Coach Stoops says: “Blake has great size and is a playmaker. He also has the ability to catch the ball in traffic.”
Tymere Dubose, Defensive End, 6-5, 280, Fr-HS, Youngstown, Ohio (Youngstown Christian) – A three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247sports.com and ESPN.com … Ranked as the 40th-best player in the state of Ohio and 33rd-best strongside defensive end in the nation by Rivals.com … Considered the 46th-best defensive end in nation by Scout.com … 247Sports.com gives him high praise for his size and athleticism … Big, physical player that played on the defensive line and at tight end in high school … Second-team Division VII All-Ohio in 2013 by The Associated Press … Still has a lot of upside as he has only played two years of high school football … Coached by Brian Marrow … Also was a star basketball player in high school … Picked Kentucky after offers from Michigan State and West Virginia … Name is pronounced “du-BOSE.”
Coach Stoops says: “Tymere is a very athletically gifted player. He has very good agility for a player his size.”
Mike Edwards, Defensive Back, 5-11, 185, Fr.-HS, Cincinnati, Ohio (Winton Woods ) – A four-star prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com … Three-star prospect by 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Ranked as the 14th-best prospect in the state of Ohio and 25th-best safety in the nation by Rivals.com … Scout.com ranks him the 29th best cornerback in the nation and 256th-best prospect in the country … Explosive athlete who not only played defensive back in high school but also returned punts and kickoffs … Great senior season with six interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 46 tackles to go along with 13.7 yards per punt return including one for a touchdown … Had two interceptions in his team’s first round playoff game in 2013, helping the squad advance to the second round … Named first-team Division II All-Ohio as a defensive back … … Had 92 tackles his junior year with five interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns and two fumbles forced … Returned nine kickoffs junior year for 248 yards and one touchdown … Was named special-mention all-state his junior year … Coached by Andre Parker … Had numerous offers but chose Kentucky over Louisville, Missouri, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Vanderbilt.
Coach Stoops says: “Mike is a complete defensive back, with great ball skills, a good tackler and an understanding of the game.”
Matt Elam, Defensive Tackle, 6-7, 375, Fr-HS, Elizabethtown, Ky. (John Hardin) – Big, physical defensive line prospect that is a five-star recruit by 247Sports.com and four prospect by Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rivals.com ranks him the No. 2 prospect in the Commonwealth of Kentucky … 247Sports.com ranks him the No. 13 defensive tackle in the nation and No. 164 prospect in the nation … Scout.com rates him the 11th-best defensive tackle prospect in the nation … Named a MaxPreps 2013 Medium Schools All-American … Named second-team All-USA by USA Today … Won the Paul Hornung Award as the Kentucky Player of the Year as a senior, totaling 85 tackles and four quarterback sacks … First-team all-state by The Associated Press and the Louisville Courier-Journal … Selected to the “Class of the Commonwealth” team by the Lexington Herald-Leader … Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … Had 65 tackles as a sophomore with 19 tackles for loss, four sacks and three fumbles forced … Helped lead his high school to the semifinals of the 5A state playoffs his sophomore, junior and senior seasons … Was named first-team all-state by the Associated Press as a sophomore … Coached by Chad Lewis … Picked Kentucky over Alabama and Notre Dame … Numerous offers from Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State, Tennessee and others.
Coach Stoops says: “Matt was very important to our recruiting class because he is a rare athlete, combining size, power and athletic ability. He has the physical ability to change a game.”
Nico Firios, Linebacker, 6-2, 220, Fr-HS, Longwood, Fla. (Lyman) – Four-star recruit by ESPN.com and three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com … ESPN.com ranks him the 19th-best linebacker in the nation and gives him high grades for diagnosing skills and tackling … Scout.com ranks him the 48th-best outside linebacker prospect in the nation … Scout.com says strength are aggressiveness, lateral movement and tackling technique … Jamie Newberg of Scout.com: “Firios is a tough and physical linebacker that is really good against the run. When things come his way he can fill the hole and make the play. Firios can shed the blocker and get to the ball. He can play sideline to sideline and get to the perimeter … He plays with outstanding instincts and is a good, sound tackler” … Ranked No. 7 in the Orlando Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60 … Named First-Team Class 8A Preseason All-State by FloridaHighSchoolFootball.com … Had 40 tackles his sophomore season with nine tackles for loss, one sack and two fumbles forced … Coached by Jeff Gierke … Had many offers but eventually chose Kentucky over Louisville, Wisconsin and Arizona … Name is pronounced “NEE-ko FEER-ee-ose.”
Coach Stoops says: “Nico is a prototypical middle linebacker – has a nose for the football and is very bright. I look forward to him taking charge in the middle of our defense.”
Ryan Flannigan, Linebacker, 6-3, 230, Jr-JC, Missouri City, Texas (Marshall/Blinn College) – Impressive junior college linebacker with good size and athleticism that has also seen time as a defensive back … Three-star prospect by Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … No. 90 in Rivals.com juco Top 100 and No. 18 juco inside linebacker … Ranked as the 111th juco prospect by 247Sports.com … Strong freshman year at Blinn with 45 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack … Also played well his sophomore season with 22 tackles with two interceptions, including one for a touchdown … Coached at Blinn by Ronny Feldman … Had a great career at Marshall High School (Missouri City, Texas), earning all-district and all-state honors … Was on the Rivals.com Texas Top 11 and ESPN Top 200 out of high school, ranked as the sixth-best outside linebacker in the state of Texas … Put up amazing numbers his junior and senior years of high school, recording 120 tackles with eight sacks, two fumble recoveries and one touchdown as a junior … Senior year he had 101 tackles with three sacks and two touchdowns … Chose Kentucky after offers from Arizona State, Cincinnati, Houston and Texas Tech.
Coach Stoops says: “Ryan is an athletic linebacker with the ability to make plays from sideline to sideline. He also has good playing experience in junior college.”
Dorian Hendrix, Linebacker, 6-0, 230, Fr-HS, Huber Heights, Ohio (Wayne) – The first commitment of Kentucky’s 2014 signing class … Two-year All-Southwest Ohio linebacker at Wayne HS in Huber Heights, Ohio … Helped lead Wayne to an 11-2 record and a berth in the Division I (largest classification) state quarterfinals as a senior … Made 126 tackles as a senior, with three quarterback sacks, two fumbles caused and two blocked kicks … Totaled approximately 125 as a junior … Earned first-team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference honors both years … Four-year letterman and three-year starter … The nation’s No. 26 inside linebacker according to Rivals.com … Rated No. 15 at the Best of the Midwest combine … Coached by Jay Minton … “It takes a special player to play in the SEC and he has that ability,” Minton said. “He is explosive to the football and has awareness of the game. He has great character and leadership. He’s a competitor.” … Also involved with track and field and basketball … Ran the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays and was an all-conference performer in the shot put … President of the junior class and member of the student council … Honor-roll student … Received the Rotary Club Scholastic Achievement Award … Also considered Illinois and Indiana, and was receiving significant interest from numerous other schools, but decided to commit early and go with UK … “The excitement going on with Coach Stoops,” Dorian said of his decision on Kentucky. “I believe in him and his staff. I wanted to play in the SEC and I loved the campus and the fan base.”
Coach Stoops says: “Dorian was an early commitment for the 2014 class and has been solid all the way through. I’m very excited about the leadership he brings at linebacker.”
Mikel Horton, Running Back, 6-1, 223, Fr-HS, West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West) – Talented running back with a mix of athleticism and power … A four-star prospect by Rivals.com, who also ranks him as the No. 3 prospect in Ohio and No. 12 running back in the nation … Four-year letterman and three-year starter at Lakota West HS in West Chester, Ohio … Rushed for 178 times for 1,203 yards, an average of 6.8 yards per carry, and 13 touchdowns as a senior … The team’s leading receiver with 19 catches for 249 yards and two TDs … Helped lead his team to a championship of the Greater Miami Conference … First-team all-conference as a junior and senior … First-team All-Southwest Ohio as a senior … Played in the Semper Fidelis All-American game in Carson, Calif., in Jan. 2014 and caught a 13-yard touchdown pass … Will rejoin former teammate Kyle Meadows, who is a freshman offensive lineman at UK … Lakota West also produced former UK fullback John Conner, four-year NFL veteran now with the New York Giants … Coached at LWHS by Larry Cox … “Mikel’s combination of size, speed and pure athleticism set him apart,” Cox said. “What takes him a notch higher is his ability to catch the ball.” … Participated in wrestling and track and field … Competed in the 4x100-meter relay, 200-meter dash and 110-meter hurdles … Member of the school’s leadership program board … Selected UK with final consideration to Florida State, Louisville, Michigan State and Vanderbilt … “The family atmosphere,” Mikel said of his decision for UK. “I wanted to be part of changing the program and making it something special. I’m friends with Dorian Hendrix. I fell in love with it.” … Name is pronounced “my-KELL.”
Coach Stoops says: “Mikel is a big back who is very agile and athletic. He’s the whole package with the character and personality that is a great fit for our program.”
Cory “C.J.” Johnson, Defensive Tackle, 6-3, 275, Jr-JC, Columbia, S.C. (Chambersburg (Pa.)/ ASA College) – Had a great two years at ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., at defensive tackle … First-team All-Northeast Football Conference as a sophomore … Paced ASA College in tackles with 49 stops, including 15 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a pass breakup … Leading the team in tackles is a rare feat for a defensive lineman … Played in seven games as a true freshman with the Avengers, posting 23 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss, one fumble forced and one fumble recovery … Helped lead ASA to a two-year record of 18-2, including two NFC championships with spotless 5-0 records each season … Helped the Avengers to the first postseason win in school history with a 23-3 victory over the College of DuPage in the 2013 Carrier Dome Bowl … ASA won their last nine in a row en route to a 9-1 record and achieved a final ranking of No. 7 in the nation … Only loss was to Georgia Military College, which advanced to the 2013 national championship game …ASA led the National Junior College Athletic Association in scoring defense, allowing just 9.1 points per game … ASA head coach is Dennis Orlando … A four-star recruit according to Rivals.com and 247Sports.com, while Scout.com and ESPN.com rank him a three-star prospect … Ranked as the 31st-best junior college player in the ESPN.com Junior College Top 50 … ESPN.com ranks him the eight-best juco defensive lineman, while 247Sports rates him the ninth-best at his position … Chose UK over Miami (Fla.) and Texas Tech … “The city of Lexington, the people are great, the fans are great,” C.J. said when asked of his reasons on picking UK. “I got along with the players (during his visit), so I knew Kentucky as the right choice.”
High School: Originally from Columbia, S.C., he played three years at Chambersburg (Pa.) High School under Coach Mark Saunders … Played defensive tackle and end … Had more than 100 tackles his senior season, including a single-game high of 20 stops … Also participated in the shot put on the school’s track and field team … Set the indoor school record in that event … Signed with Temple out of high school before going to junior college.
Coach Stoops says: “Cory comes from a very successful junior college, won a lot of games. He is a very active, productive player. The fact that he led his team in tackles as a defensive lineman is very impressive. I look forward to adding a big, strong lineman to help at tackle.”
Garrett Johnson, Wide Receiver, 5-11, 175, Fr-HS, Winter Garden, Fla. (West Orange) – A three-star recruit by Rivals.com, 247Sports.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rivals.com ranks him the 96th-best player in the state of Florida and the 99th-best wide receiver in the nation … ESPN.com rates him the 84th-best prospect in Florida and 64th-best wide receiver in the nation … Scout.com lists his strengths as elusiveness with catch, hands and concentration and running ability … Jamie Newberg from Scout.com says, “Johnson is a wide receiver that has played as an outside guy and in the slot … Johnson does a real nice job of catching the ball and getting up field. Johnson has good speed but better quickness. As a pass catcher he looks natural and it seems to come easy for him. He shows he can be explosive and get behind a secondary” … First-team all-state as a senior by the Associated Press … Ended senior season with 49 receptions for 1,187 yards and 19 touchdowns … Great sophomore season with 58 receptions for 1,014 yards and 11 touchdowns and followed that with 49 receptions his junior season for 685 yards and seven touchdowns … Also rushed some in high school with nearly 500 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns … Helped lead his team to the regional quarterfinals in the 8A Florida state playoffs … Named all-area his senior year by the Orlando Sentinel … Coached by Bob Head … Picked Kentucky after offers from Arizona, Boston College, Florida, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Northwestern, South Florida and Vanderbilt.
Coach Stoops says: “Garrett is versatile, can play any of our wide receiver spots – inside or outside. He also has very good speed and plays strong.”
Josh Krok, Offensive Lineman, 6-8, 325, Fr-HS, Niles, Ohio (McKinley) – Talented and physical offensive line prospect who is a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Division III All-Ohio second team in 2013 … Ranked as the No. 23 player in the state of Ohio and the No. 39 offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com … ESPN.com ranks him the 54th-best offensive tackle in the nation … Named Associated Press Northeast Inland District Division III first team … Was named the No. 2 offensive performer at the Pittsburgh Rivals Camp … Helped his team to eight wins his junior season … Coached by Brian Shaner … Tabbed Kentucky over West Virginia, additional offers included Cincinnati and Louisville.
Coach Stoops says: “Josh has great size and work ethic. He is very tough, loves to play physically. He is very well-developed for a high school player, which shows his commitment to the weight room and his work ethic.”
Jarrett LaRubbio, Offensive Lineman, 6-6, 280, Fr-HS, Middletown, Ohio (Lakota East) – A three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Rivals.com ranks him the 27th-best player in the state of Ohio and 20th-best offensive guard in the nation … Scout.com ranks him the 28th-best offensive guard in the nation … Physical and athletic lineman had a great senior season, helping his high school team rush for nearly 3,000 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry … Named 2013 first-team Division I All-Ohio by The Associated Press … Helped his team win eight games his junior year, including its first-round playoff game … ESPN.com gives him high marks for his space blocking and physicality … Named to the U.S. National Football Team … Picked UK over North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North Carolina, Washington, Louisville, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Arizona State … Name is pronounced “lah-RUE-bee-o.”
Coach Stoops says: “Jarrett has good strength and projects as an inside lineman. I like the way he plays tough and finishes blocks.”
Darryl Long, Tight End, 6-4, 225, Fr-HS, Westerville, Ohio (South) – Three-star tight end by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … ESPN.com rates him the 19th-best tight end in the nation and the 33rd-best prospect in the state of Ohio … Columbus Dispatch All-Metro Football Team special mention … Helped his team win eight games his junior season, while the Wildcats won nine games his freshman season … Coached by Rocky Pentello … Chose Kentucky over a host of schools, including offers from Louisville, Missouri, Minnesota, Indiana, North Carolina, Purdue, Illinois and Boston College.
Coach Stoops says: “Darryl has the body type you like to see. He has good length and is an athletic pass catcher. As he continues to develop physically, he’ll be what you look for at tight end.”
Adrian Middleton, Defensive Tackle, 6-3, 275, Fr-HS, Bowling Green, Ky. (South Warren) – Three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Ranked the fourth-best player in the Commonwealth of Kentucky … Considered the 55th-best defensive tackle in the nation by ESPN.com … First-team all-state as a senior by The Associated Press and the Louisville Courier-Journal … Class of the Commonwealth selection by the Lexington Herald-Leader … Max Preps 2013 Small Schools All-American First-Team Defense honoree … Had 67 total tackles as a senior, including an astounding 26 tackles for loss, with nine quarterback sacks … Had two fumble recoveries and one fumble recovery for a touchdown … Helped his team advance to the KHSAA state quarterfinals his junior and senior seasons … Finished 11-2 his senior season … Had 59 tackles has a junior … Played in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … Coached by Mark Nelson … Chose Kentucky after scholarship offers from Louisville, Indiana and Missouri … First player in the three-year history of the school to sign a scholarship with a Division I school.
Coach Stoops says: “We’re excited to get another outstanding in-state player. Adrian can tackle or end and he showed the ability to create negative-yardage plays.”
Kendall Randolph, Defensive Back, 6-0, 175, Fr.-HS, Tallahassee, Fla. (Lincoln) – Four-star prospect by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … Three-star prospect by Scout.com and 247Sports.com … Rivals.com ranks him the 50th-best prospect in the state of Florida … ESPN.com rates him the 48th-best prospect in the state of Florida and the 21st-best cornerback in the nation … No. 284 in ESPN’s Top 300 … ESPN gives him high praise for his zone coverage, ball skills, run support and instincts … Had a great senior season with 59 tackles, three tackles for loss, one interception, seven pass breakups and one fumble recovery … First-team Class 7A all-state by The Associated Press … Junior year was also good with 27 tackles, two tackles for loss, six interceptions, seven pass breakups and one fumble recovery … Skilled kickoff and punt returner … Also played some at quarterback, completing over 60 percent of his passes … Helped his team advance to the regional semifinals of the state playoffs his senior season … Won the 7A state championship as a freshman and was 7A runner-up his junior season … Coached by Yusuf Shakir … List of offers included Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Ole Miss, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA and Vanderbilt.
Coach Stoops says: “I’ve watched Kendall play a lot of football. He comes from a great high-school program. He’s a versatile player, a complete defensive back with outstanding leadership qualities.”
Nick Richardson, Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 270, Fr-HS, Westerville, Ohio (Central HS) – Talented offensive lineman from Ohio who is a four-star prospect by Rivals.com … Ranked as the eighth-best player in the state of Ohio and the No. 217 overall prospect in Rivals.com Top 250 … Three-star prospect by Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Played in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … ESPN.com gives him high praise for his physicality … Named first-team Division I All-Ohio by The Associated Press … Helped Westerville Central High School to a 10-2 record his senior season … His blocking up front helped the Warhawks rush for over 237 yards per game and score 44 rushing touchdowns … Played some defense in high school with 11 tackles last season … Helped lead the team to the second round of the state playoffs and a No. 28 final state ranking … Coached by John Magistro … Chose Kentucky after offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
Coach Stoops says: “Nick is a rangy offensive lineman, athletic and light on his feet. He’s also shown good pass-protection skills.”
Thaddeus Snodgrass, Wide Receiver, 6-1, 180, Fr-HS, Springfield, Ohio (Springfield) – Highly regarded wide receiver … Four-star prospect by all the national recruiting services … Rivals.com ranks him No. 13 in the state of Ohio while ESPN.com praises him for his impressive speed, route running, ability to catch in traffic and a knack for getting yards after the catch … Has been timed under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash … Four-year letterman and three-year starter at Springfield (Ohio) HS … Caught 29 passes for 535 yards and six touchdowns as a senior … Snagged 18 balls for approximately 400 yards as a junior … Two-year member of the Greater Western Ohio Conference and two-year special mention All-Southwest Ohio … Played in the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl following his senior season … Coached by Eric Gillespie … “Thaddeus is extremely athletic, running 4.33 (seconds) in the 40 (yard dash). His explosive athletic ability gives him all the potential in the world to be a great player in college.” … Scout.com recruiting analyst Dave Berk wrote that Snodgrass “brings great speed to the field with the ability to beat defenders at the line of scrimmage with a quick move.” … Three-year member of the track team, running the 100- and 200-meter dashes … Honor-roll student … Tabbed Kentucky over West Virginia, Louisville and South Carolina … Thaddeus noted UK’s “family atmosphere type of offense and excitement around the team” as his reasons for joining the Wildcats.
Coach Stoops says: “Thaddeus was a very early commit for us. He’s a bigger receiver that we’re looking for. Not only is he a national recruit he also has great character and work ethic.”
Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings, Offensive Lineman, 6-3, 320, Fr-HS, Hoover, Ala. (Spain Park) – A three-star prospect by 247Sports.com … 247Sports.com ranks him one of the top-20 offensive centers in the nation and a top-40 recruit in the state of Alabama … Helped his team to the 6A Region 4 Championship last season … Started his high school career in Mississippi before moving to Alabama … His play in 2013 helped his team rush for 1300 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns … Coached by Shawn Raney … Picked Kentucky over Mississippi State and Colorado … Name is pronounced “jer-VON-tee-us” … Brother of Tre’ Stallings, former offensive lineman at Ole Miss and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, who now works for the Southeastern Conference.
Coach Stoops says: “Jervontius is very athletic – a talented snapper who moves his hips and feet quickly after the snap. He has the ability to play center or either guard position.”
A.J. Stamps, Cornerback, 6-0, 190, Jr-JC, Vicksburg, Miss. (Vicksburg/East Mississippi CC) – Was an outstanding cover corner for East Mississippi Community College, helping the Lions to the 2013 national championship … Lead the team’s defensive backs with 51 tackles, including one sack, seven tackles for loss, one fumble forced … Strong pass defender with four interceptions and nine pass breakups … Returned one pickoff for a touchdown and also returned a punt for another TD … Part of the NJCAA’s No. 2-ranked defense, allowing a mere 9.8 points per contest … Earned NJCAA All-Region 23 honors and was honorable-mention All-America … Was a wide receiver in 2012 for EMCC, making nine catches for 73 yards before moving to defensive back for his sophomore season … Head coach at EMCC is Buddy Stephens … Was teammates with current UK defensive end Za’Darius Smith in 2012 at EMCC and was a player at EMCC when current UK defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh was on staff … Chose Kentucky over Ohio State … Regarding his reasons for tabbing UK, A.J. said, “The relationship with the coaches and players when I visited, also the city of Lexington and the fan support.”
High School: Played safety and wide receiver at Vicksburg (Miss.) High School … First-team all-state as a senior by the MAC and second-team all-state by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger … Senior stats included 114 tackles, two pass interceptions and three pass breakups on defense; at receiver he caught 77 passes for 1,289 yards and 19 touchdowns … Was named one of the top individual performances of the 2011 season by MaxPreps.com when he had 19 receptions for 285 yards and five TDs vs. Northwest Rankin … Final two years he totaled 112 receptions for 2,310 years and 29 touchdowns … Had 210 tackles his final two years of high school, including two interceptions, seven pass breakups and two fumble recoveries … Played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game … Coached at Vicksburg by Alonzo Stevens … Also played basketball (guard/forward) and baseball (right field) … Helped the basketball team advance to the state championship game his junior year … Member of the Key Club.
Coach Stoops says: “A.J. brings a winning attitude, coming from the junior-college national champion team. He is versatile, having played cornerback and wide receiver in high school and junior college. He is a playmaker with the physical makeup to be an impact player right away.”
Lloyd Tubman, Defensive End, 6-5, 225, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Seneca HS) – Four-star recruit by 247Sports.com and a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com … Rivals.com ranks him the No. 4 player in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and No. 34 weakside defensive end in the nation, while 247Sports.com rates him No. 3 prospect in Kentucky and No. 12 weakside defensive end in the nation … Second-team all-state by The Associated Press in 2013 … Had a great junior year with Seneca High School with 79 tackles, 22.5 sacks and seven fumbles caused … Coached by Lavell Boyd … Performed at the Columbus Nike Football Training Camp and was a standout performer … Chose Kentucky after having favored Vanderbilt and Penn State earlier … Also had offers from Louisville and Nebraska.
Coach Stoops says: “Lloyd has a good frame and great range. He plays with relentless pursuit of the football. He’s hard to block because of his length and his pursuit.”
Jared Tucker, Defensive Back, 5-11, 170, Fr-HS, Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson) – Three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Ranked as the 49th-best player in the state of Georgia by Rivals.com … Led his team to the second round of the playoffs last year, while advancing to the quarterfinals his junior season … Strong senior season with 25 tackles and one tackle for loss to go along with a strong showing in kickoff and punt returns … Great junior season with 50 tackles with three tackles for loss and five interceptions … Also an outstanding track athlete at Stephenson High School … Will rejoin former Stephenson stars Ronnie Shields and Jabari Johnson at UK … Coached by Ron Gartrell … Picked Kentucky after offers from Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida State, Indiana, Ohio State, South Carolina, South Florida and Vanderbilt.
Coach Stoops says: “Jared has great speed, also a star athlete in track. He has a knack for getting to the ball and making big plays.”
Kobie Walker, Linebacker, 6-3, 200, Fr-HS, Olney, Md. (Our Lady of Good Counsel) – Three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Ranked as the No. 17 player in the state of Maryland by Rivals.com … ESPN.com ranks him the No. 11 player in the state and No. 35 safety in the nation … 2013 Private School First-Team All-State … Had 35 tackles as a senior, including seven for loss, two fumbles caused, a pass interception and four pass breakups … Good junior year with 29 tackles and two interceptions … Named a 2013 MaxPreps Maryland Preseason All-State honoree … Helped his team to a state championship his sophomore season and an 11-1 record his junior year … Was selected to play in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … Coached by Bob Milloy … Chose Kentucky after offers from Boston College, Hawaii, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Old Dominion, Rutgers, Syracuse and Wisconsin.
Coach Stoops says: “Kobie is a long, athletic linebacker. He also plays physically in addition to making plays all over the field.”
Denzel Ware, Defensive End, 6-2, 240, Fr-HS, Crestview, Fla. (Senior) – A four-star prospect by 247Sports.com, Scout.com and ESPN.com and a three-star recruit by Rivals.com … Scout.com ranks him the No. 26 defensive end in the nation listing his strengths as backside pursuit, lateral range and speed … Rivals.com says, “Ware has a lot of raw ability. He is athletic and can run well. He has very long arms for someone 6-foot-3. Has a quick first step coming off the ball. He also pursues the ball very well from the backside and show the ability to play from sideline to sideline … Has some great tools to work with at the next level” … ESPN.com ranks him No. 113 in its ESPN Top 300 list ... ESPN.com ranks him the 20th-best prospect in the talent-rich state of Florida and the 12th-best defensive end in the nation … Class 7A third-team all-state as a senior … Accumulated 56 tackles, 12 quarterback sacks and three caused fumbles … Was a first-team all-state selection as a junior … Selected to play in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl … Coached by Tim Hatten … Chose Kentucky after offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Texas, USC and Vanderbilt.
Coach Stoops says: “Denzel is a player we’ve recruited for a long time. We could move him around in our defense. He is extremely athletic and explosive, with the size to play end and the speed to play linebacker.”
Darius West, Defensive Back, 6-0, 200, Fr-HS, Lima, Ohio (Central Catholic) – Four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Ranked as the No. 219 overall prospect in Rivals.com Top 250 and ninth-best in the state of Ohio … ESPN.com ranks him the eighth-best player in the state of Ohio and the 18th-best cornerback in the nation … ESPN.com also ranks him No. 248 on the ESPN Top 300 and praises his zone coverage and ball skills … Scout.com ranks him the No. 21 safety in the nation … Played in only two games as a senior because of injury … According to 247Sports.com, he had 47 tackles as a junior with five interceptions, two fumbles forced, one fumble recovery and one interception returned for a touchdown leading his team to the second round of the state tournament … As a sophomore, he had 69 tackles, one interception and one fumble forced as his team went to the state semifinals … Coached by Jerry Cooper … Picked Kentucky over a long list of offers, including Cincinnati, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Vanderbilt, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Coach Stoops says: “Darius plays with great instincts. He’s also very physical and is explosive to the ball.”
Stanley “Boom” Williams, Running Back, 5-9, 190, Fr-HS, Monroe, Ga. (George Walton Academy) – Four-star recruit by Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Ranked as the No. 118 overall prospect in Rivals.com Top 250 and the eighth-best player in the state of Georgia … At one point, Rivals.com ranked him the No. 1 all-purpose back in the nation … Ranked No. 208 in ESPN.com’s Top 300 … ESPN.com ranks him the 16th-best running back in the nation and 19th-best player in the state of Georgia … Played in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, rushing six times for 45 yards and a touchdown, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the process … Rushed for 1,416 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior … Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-Metro first team selection in 2013 … Great junior season with 207 carries for 1948 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns … Coached by Don Williams … Originally committed to Georgia before coming to Kentucky and chose the Wildcats over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Coach Stoops says: “Stanley is a very dynamic player with the ball in his hands, talented, quick and can make people miss. He is the kind of player who can change the scoreboard.”
T.V. Williams, Wide Receiver, 5-10, 165, Fr-HS, McKinney, Texas (McKinney) – Swift wide receiver who has been timed as fast as 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash … Caught 30 passes for 454 yards and five touchdowns as a senior at McKinney (Texas) HS … Caught 45 balls for 789 yards and 10 scores as a junior … First-team all-district as a senior, second team as a junior … Also played running back and some wildcat quarterback in high school … Three-year starter … Most Valuable Player of the National Underclassman Camp … Played in the USA vs. Canada All-Star Game in January, 2013 … Invited to the Texas vs. the USA All-Star Game and the NUC All-Star Game … Coached by Jeff Smith … “T.V. is one of the most explosive players I’ve ever coached,” Smith said. “He is so quick and so fast with a lot of big-play ability. He also understands the game, a savvy, heady player who can read coverages and adjust routes.” … Three-year letterman in track … Best time of 10.6 seconds in the 100-meter dash … Also competed in the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays … Honor-roll student … Chose Kentucky over Houston, Oregon State, Nebraska and Iowa … “I trust Coach Stoops, Coach Brown and Coach Mainord,” Williams said of his decision. “The recruits are really close and the UK fan base has been amazing. I can’t wait to put on a Kentucky jersey and play.”
Coach Stoops says: “T.V. is a very quick, electric receiver with playmaking ability. I’m excited about his commitment and getting into Texas.”