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College Football Recruiting 2014: Kentucky Wildcats Building Top-Five Class

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

If one takes a gander at the most recent 2014 team recruiting rankings provided by rivals.com, one might do a double-take. At the top is Texas A&M, which isn’t really a surprise.  Tennessee is no. 2, which is somewhat of a surprise, but they’ve been here before. Texas is no. 3, right about where they usually are. Then some more powerhouses that follow: Michigan at five, Notre Dame at six, Clemson at seven.

Wait a second, who was that at four? The Kentucky Wildcats?

Am I certain I’m not actually looking at the Wildcats’ basketball recruiting class? Surprisingly, yes, I am certain I have the right list (though the Wildcats’ basketball class is elite as well).

Yes, this is all true. The Wildcats have a top-five class right now, ahead of the likes of fellow SEC rivals LSU, Florida and (gasp!) the Alabama Crimson Tide.

15 prospects of the 2014 recruiting class have given verbal commitments to the Wildcats, including four who are considered 4-stars. Not surprisingly, given first-year head coach Mark Stoops‘ defensive background, 10 of the 15 are on defense. But, three of the highest-rated prospects (quarterback Drew Barker, running back Mikel Horton and receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass) are actually on offense.

As a whole, this class really is looking impressive. Barker (Burlington, KY) is the highest-rated quarterback to pick the ‘Cats since Andre’ Woodson (now if he can only put up similar numbers in Lexington). Horton (West Chester, OH) seems designed to be a SEC running back at a powerfully built 6-foot 1, 230-pounds. Snodgrass is a lightning quick receiver who is picking UK over the likes of Notre Dame and Ohio State.

Safety Darius West (Lima, OH) has outstanding coverage skills and could play either corner or safety. West should be an outstanding pairing in the defensive backfield with fellow safety Mike Edwards (Cincinnati, OH), and corners Shyquawn Pullium (Brenham, TX) and Jared Tucker (Stone Mountain, GA).

If Wildcats’ commitment list ended there, it would be a good haul. But it doesn’t end there — in fact, it’s not even halfway through.

Coach Stoops has been on a rampage ever since he was hired last December. In the little time he had to assemble the 2013 recruiting class, he made huge strides in keeping current commits and adding even more. And with the 2014 class, his first full class on the job, he’s heading for a top-five finish, something unheard of for Kentucky football.

Granted, there’s a long way to go until National Signing Day 2014, and some of the guys may change their mind, especially if the product on the field this year is similar to last year’s. But, Stoops and his staff seem ready to keep up this torrid pace as long as they can.

Now all they have to do is get these talented athletes to live up to their lofty billings.

Rick Stavig is a National Recruiting Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google