Posted: 3:25 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014
By Hank Rippetoe
Kentucky and Mark Stoops plan to sign a full complement of 25 players in February, 2015. Taking liberty with the United States Marine Corps commercial in the title, Kentucky is in need of a few good men.
After signing two great classes in the 2013 and 2014 recruiting cycles which ranked #29 and #17 by Rivals, the 2015 class will be a pivotal group of young men who will either sustain the momentum built by the previous two classes, or will cause a return to the mediocrity of the past. Early indications show that the 2015 class could be better than the previous two classes, but some leadership by a few recruits will be required to carry the Wildcats forward. That means Kentucky is in need of a couple of early commitments to assist with the recruiting, much like the early enrollees provided this year.
If you've had children of your own, you know that high school kids tend to be concerned with what their peers think and usually follow the pack and often worry about what others think. Kentucky needs players who are proud enough and brave enough to think for themselves and who have a desire to lead the pack rather than just follow along.
We are beginning to see some top notch players to begin to stick their toes in the water. Two five star players are considering taking a leap of faith. We know this from following them on Twitter. Both committed to Michigan and just recently decided to de-commit. They are openly talking about "Why Not?" I am talking about Kentucky's own Damien Harris of Madison Southern in Berea and Florida's George Campbell of East Lake in Tarpon Springs.
Some think they are crazy for even talking about Kentucky, but these are the type of young men who don't pay attention to what others think. Harris is ranked as the # 1 Running Back in the nation and Campbell is the # 1 Wide Receiver, according to Rivals. It doesn't mean that either is going to commit to Kentucky, but they are discussing playing together and they are talking between themselves about Kentucky.
247 Sports projects Harris to commit to Michigan and they also project Campbell to commit to Florida. One should remember, 247 Sports projected Drew Barker to sign with South Carolina because of Steve Spurrier and some projected Matt Elam to sign with Alabama because of Nick Saban. We should have a better idea about Harris after this weekend. He' attending UK's invitation only camp this weekend.
These are the kinds of players that could elevate Kentucky's recruiting up another level. Wherever they go, others will follow. So, why would they give Kentucky a second thought?
Mark Stoops and his coaching staff are selling a vision and recruits are buying into that vision. It doesn't require putting on blue tinted glasses or drinking blue Kool-Aid because the University of Kentucky, after decades of benign neglect, has finally made the financial commitment to football, the school's largest athletic revenue provider. The renovations to Commonwealth Stadium are scheduled to be complete by the start of the 2015 football season. The $110 million will make the stadium a state of the art venue. The Kentucky Board of Trustees and the Kentucky legislature gave full support for the project which uses no state funding. An additional $45 million is to be spent on the Nutter complex through the use of private funding. The UK Board of Trustees approved this project as well. The support from the university to the program and the coaching staff is unprecedented.
Stoops & Company do not negatively recruit and are known for telling it like it is, acknowledging the fact the Kentucky has a hard road to go in the SEC. The 2013 and 2014 recruits knew this and signed anyway. That is a testament to the honor and integrity of this coaching staff. Stoops and Eliot have a track record at Florida State on defense, and Neal Brown and Chad Scott have a track record at Texas Tech on offense. Both were ranked #2 in the nation in 2012, according to the NCAA.
Recruits know this and they see the possibility that this staff can accomplish similar results at Kentucky. Some players want to be a part of turning a program around if they believe it can happen. So far, we've got two highly ranked classes who believe it can happen.
"Weep no more, my lady, oh, weep no more today." The sun is shining bright, people. No need for further weeping.