Kentucky Wildcats Do The Unusual, Land 4-Star Defensive Tackle Matt Elam

By Evan Williamson
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It is not often that you hear or see the words “Kentucky Wildcats” and “four-star recruit” in the same context, but that is exactly what happened on Thursday.

Four-star defensive tackle Matt Elam chose the Wildcats over none other than the Alabama Crimson Tide of all teams. Elam is a massive prospect at 6-foot-5, 372 pounds who is rated the No. 13 overall defensive tackle in the nation.

Elam, a Kentucky native, took his official visit to Kentucky back on Dec. 13 and visited the Crimson Tide on Jan. 17. He unofficially visited the Wildcats last week and even had Alabama coaches in his home this morning to try and get a last-minute persuasive visit in.

Elam has tremendous size to play inside on the defensive interior and will command a double-team on nearly every play, which will be huge to free the Wildcats’ linebackers to make tackles. With that exceptional size, he brings great strength and quickness off the ball that widens your eyes considering he is such a big player.

Don’t look now, but the Wildcats have the 19th-best class in the nation and the ninth best in the SEC, which includes six four-star prospects.

Mark Stoops has a daunting task of rebuilding the Kentucky program because let’s be honest, the people there are more concerned about basketball in Lexington rather than football. Stoops had a tough first season at UK after finishing 2-10 overall and next-to-last in the SEC East.

Yet, David Cutcliffe and the Duke Blue Devils set the precedent this year for programs we never thought could compete at a high level and nearly win a conference championship. If you remember way back in your mind, you might recall a Kentucky team back in 2007 that was ranked as high as no. 8 in the nation with a 6-1 overall record over halfway through the season.

Now, the ACC and Duke’s run of success this year is not what the Wildcats face in the SEC by any stretch of the imagination, but Kentucky has a chance to be competitive in the SEC East after some down years by a few of its powerhouse programs of late. The key to Stoops’ success at UK will not begin with on-field play, but rather in the recruiting world as he will have to continue to haul in elite players and steal them away from other programs like he did with Elam.

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