Signing Day Excitement Continues
Feb. 7, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – National Signing Day is two days in the rearview mirror but the eyes of local and national media continue to look at the recruiting success of Kentucky football.
Coach Mark Stoops and his relentless staff brought home Kentucky’s highest-rated class in the Internet era of recruiting evaluation, scoring a No. 17 ranking on Rivals.com, No. 20 by ESPN.com, No. 21 by Scout.com and No. 22 by 247Sports.com.
Kentucky’s recruiting haul has been well-chronicled. There was extensive coverage by the local and area media. An abundance of those written and video stories are available on the Web sites of the media who cover the Cats on a daily basis.
Kentucky’s own UKathletics.com Web site saw a marked increase in traffic. There were 23,932 unique visitors to the Signing Day page, approximately 50 percent more than last year. The number of visitors ranks seventh nationally among the dozens of schools whose sites are hosted by CBS, up from 10th place nationally among CBS-hosted schools last year.
In addition, Coach Stoops made television appearances on ESPNU’s signing-day coverage, “College Football Live” on ESPN2 and Comcast Sports Southeast’s signing-day special.
The national media have been generous in their praise of UK’s recruiting effort, with stories concentrating or prominently featuring the Wildcats by Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated, Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports, Alex Scarborough and Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com and Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s are some links to the national coverage:
Stoops and his staff have not hesitated to compete against big-name programs on the recruiting trail. And Kentucky has won more than a few of those battles: The Wildcats beat out Louisville, Tennessee and South Carolina for Barker; Auburn, Clemson and LSU for all-purpose back Stanley Williams; and Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State for Elam.
“We're definitely not afraid to compete with anybody in the country,” Stoops said Tuesday.
In a recruiting cycle that many coaches say featured rampant player poaching. Kentucky would have been a logical poaching victim. But the Wildcats locked up much of its class a year ago and didn't lose traction. About sixteen of its 28 players committed before the end of last summer, Stoops said.
No. 2: Kentucky
Rundown: This ain’t your grandfather’s Kentucky. It’s not your father’s or your older brother’s, either. Mark Stoops didn’t have the highest ranked recruiting class in the country or even the SEC, but the top-20 class far outpaced even the highest expectations . The signees speaks for themselves -- an infusion of young talent desperately needed for the road ahead -- but the overall statement Stoops and his staff made going out and landing the best of the best was huge. Nabbing four-star defensive lineman Matt Elam fom Alabama sent shockwaves through college football. It not only said that Kentucky was here to play; it’s here to play and win.
Instant impact signee: There’s opportunity abound in Lexington. At one point, a walk-on was starting at receiver against Alabama. With that, four-star Thaddeus Snodgrass has the athleticism (4.5 second 40-yard dash) to provide a quick spark to the Wildcats’ offense.
Quietly, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops made an emphatic statement with his 2014 recruiting class: The Wildcats aren't going to sit idly by and watch the big boy have all the fun …
Stoops rubbed shoulders with the SEC's best, signing 28 players, including six ESPN 300 members and eight four-stars. Stoops flipped a Florida State commit and beat out Alabama for a highly coveted defensive tackle. He snagged a top 10 quarterback and filled critical holes on both sides of the ball.
One day last April, Kentucky bombarded Matt Elam, a 340-pound tackle from Elizabethtown, Ky., with 69 letters. It followed up several months later with 182 letters. Not to be outdone, Notre Dame shipped Elam 270 letters in November, a postage ploy that Fighting Irish recruiters call a "pot of gold."
The outsize attention paid off for Kentucky last week when Elam—who said he received 50 letters on a normal day—chose the Wildcats over not only Notre Dame but also Alabama, which has won three of the last five national titles and is expected to land the nation's top recruiting class this year.
These superlatives of each Big Ten recruiting class and more were discussed on BTN during the network’s Football Signing Day special. Left off the table was a matter of frank conversation of how badly programs in the Big Ten, excluding Michigan and Ohio State, were smoked on the recruiting trail by Kentucky of the SEC.
Kentucky’s recruiting class would rank as the third best of the Big Ten, two spots behind Michigan for second-best.