The Kentucky Wildcats are in the process of assembling the best recruiting class in school history. Heading into Monday, Mark Stoops and his staff have the nation’s 13th-best recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.
Kentucky has perennially had problems recruiting against its Southeastern Conference brethren. Teams like the Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks have the ability to use Kentucky’s geography against them. Why would a recruit want to go north to play in the SEC? Why go where they get snow during the winter?
Stoops and his staff realize that this is going on, so they are actually using that recruiting strategy to their advantage by blitzing the state of Ohio for recruits. Stoops and his ace recruiter, Vince Marrow, are both from Youngstown, Ohio. Stoops’ father was a legendary high school coach in the Buckeye State, which only helps on the recruiting trail. But so does offering kids from Ohio the chance to play in the SEC, and to come south to avoid Ohio’s harsh winters.
To say that this strategy is paying off would be an understatement. Since the inception of recruiting rankings, Kentucky has never ranked higher than 32nd nationally, and that was last season. This year, Kentucky is clearly in the Top 20 in the country, a big step for a program with a lack of tradition.
And if anyone thinks that Kentucky is not recruiting Ohio well, they are fooling themselves. Of Rivals’ Top 25 players in Ohio, the Ohio State Buckeyes are going to sign seven. Kentucky is also going to sign seven. To go head-to-head with Ohio State, in their backyard, is impressive for a program like Kentucky.
Of course, recruiting rankings are based on opinions, and don’t always translate to wins on the field. That is the next challenge that Stoops and his staff face. But landing big-time recruits, especially from Ohio, bodes well for their future success.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.