Mark Stoops walked briskly into the room, comfortable and confident, ready to talk about his first recruiting class as Kentucky's head coach.
He stopped abruptly a few feet from the podium and rushed back toward the hallway.
Within seconds, the head coach returned holding a pennant with the face of Jason Hatcher, a four-star defensive end from Louisville Trinity, who had committed to the Cats just minutes before.
Stoops pinned it to the wall with the 21 other signees who would make up UK's best recruiting class in school history.
"That looks good, doesn't it?" he said with a smile, pointing to Hatcher, who pulled out of a commitment to Southern California.
And off Stoops raced back to his podium to talk about the sprint that he and his staff had just run to land the class, rated as high as No. 28 in the nation by one recruiting service (eight spots higher than UK's previous-best finish).
What Stoops promised when he was announced as UK's new head coach just 66 days before national signing day started to take shape in the form of this class.
I said "that we would go toe– to– toe with the best schools in the country and with the best schools in the SEC," Stoops said. "We're not going to take a backseat to anybody; we're going to recruit hard. We will win our fair share. We don't win 'em all, but we're going to work hard."
The hard work paid off in the form of this class of 22 players, including eight with a four-star rating by at least one of the national recruiting services. That's two more four-star commitments than Kentucky has had in its previous three classes combined.
Stoops and his staff did it in just a few weeks, with the head coach and his assistants hinting that this class may not be filled out just yet.
"We're really proud of what we did over a six-week period, to get the class we had," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "But everybody in our league signed good classes, too. Everybody in our league is standing around talking about how great their classes were, too."
Brown likely was hinting that even though UK's class was the best in school history, it was still rated as No. 13 or No. 14 in the Southeastern Conference by all four recruiting services.
"You have to win some of those battles," Brown continued. "And we were able to do it. And I think in the future you'll see more of those battles being won by Kentucky."
Some of the bigger battles came down to the wire, like the battle for Hatcher, who made his announcement in Louisville just minutes before Stoops' news conference at the Nutter Training Center.
The bigger battles came in the form of multi-purpose star Ryan Timmons of Franklin County, a three-star player. UK beat out Florida for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound speedster, whom Stoops called "a home run threat every time he touches the ball."
Kentucky's new offensive coordinator said the new staff likes what it has to sell.
"We sold Jason Hatcher and Ryan Timmons as, 'Hey, let's build this thing. Let's build it,'" Brown said. "And the other thing — and I think this is an important piece — is we're not asking Ryan Timmons to come in here and be the savior of this program."
No, Kentucky is asking the class of 22 — 12 on offense, nine on defense and one special teams player in Austin MacGinnis, rated one of the top kickers in the country — to come together as a group and help them build the program.
Included in this class are four junior-college players — wide receiver Javess Blue, tight end Steven Borden, defensive end Za'Darius Smith and cornerback Nate Willis — who all could make an immediate impact, their coaches said.
"This was a deal where you're going to come to Kentucky, we're going to build solid classes, we're going to get better every single year, and we're going to put people around you that you're not going to have to carry the weight of the world," Brown explained.
Seeing future stars with multiple stars next to their names commit to Kentucky already had the Cats' coaches imagining big things for the future.
The class they assembled in just six weeks was impressive, but they want more.
"We can do a whole lot better than this class, to be honest with you; just wait," running backs coach Chad Scott said. "This class makes us think, 'Imagine what we can do with a year.'"
UK SIGNING-DAY SUMMARY
Five impact players
Za'Darius Smith: The 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive lineman had 6½ sacks as a junior-college sophomore last season and could start right away for the Cats.
Ryan Timmons: Speedster from Franklin County expected to play wide receiver and running back as a true freshman. "He's so dynamic with the ball," says running backs coach Chad Scott.
JoJo Kemp: A natural fit for UK's new offense, he's an explosive runner who can also catch balls out of the backfield. "A home run hitter," Mark Stoops said.
Javess Blue: Scouted by the UK staff as the best junior-college receiver in the country. Caught 12 TD passes last season and could also return kicks at Kentucky.
Marcus McWilson: Nationally ranked safety backed out of a commitment to Nebraska so he could play at UK. "A fantastic player," Stoops said.
DL Jacob Hyde Clay Co.
ATH Ryan Timmons Franklin Co.
DL Jason Hatcher Trinity
Florida 11, Ohio 3, Alabama 2, South Carolina 1, Tennessee 1, Texas 1.
Signees by position
Defensive line 5, offensive line 4, defensive back 4, wide receiver 3, running back 2, athlete 1, tight end 1, kicker 1, quarterback 1.
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241 Twitter: @jenheraldleader Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.comHerald-Leader staff writer Ben Roberts contributed to this article.