A lot of the buzz Wednesday centered on whom Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips didn't get, as top recruits Lamar Dawson and Jon Davis opted for Southern California and Illinois.
But Phillips didn't let those two misses dampen his spirits during his signing-day news conference, instead focusing on the 26 recruits he did get.
Included in that group was Glenn Faulkner, a consensus four-star safety out of East St. Louis, Ill., who was ranked as the nation's No. 8 safety by Rivals.com.
And while the Cats lost Dawson and Davis, they added a couple of late signees in Daryl Collins, a wide receiver from Gadsden City, Ala., who originally committed to Alabama, and Christian County athlete Marcoreyon "Bubba" Tandy.
Never miss a local story.
"Look at these guys here," Phillips said while pointing to pennants of the 26 recruits on the wall at Wildcat Den. "We're not worried about the guys who are not here. The only guys we're worried about are the guys who want to be here. We don't worry about the guys that went out of state and elsewhere."
Kentucky's class was ranked 32nd nationally by Scout.com but was not included in Rivals.com's top 50. Phillips said that in terms of athleticism, it's the best class that has been signed since he arrived at UK with former head coach Rich Brooks in 2003.
When asked what he'd say to fans who might be discouraged, Phillips said, "Don't be. Trust us. We've put together classes you guys have been excited about. You ought to be more excited about this class than any we've brought in."
Phillips was happy that he was able to fill what he thought were the program's two biggest needs — running back and wide receiver. The Cats reeled in two of the top backs in Georgia in Josh Clemons and Marcus Caffey. Clemons was named Georgia's Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Caffey was listed as one of the nation's top 40 backs by Rivals.
The best part about Caffey and Clemons, according to Phillips, is that they weren't scared off by each other.
"The thing we like about that is that one of them commits, and he welcomes the other one," Phillips said. "We were honest in our process in telling those guys we were going to sign two running backs. The thing we want is guys that are willing to compete for every position."
The Wildcats recruited extensively in Georgia, getting eight players from the Peach State.
After not signing a receiver in 2010, the Cats inked five on Wednesday. In addition to Collins and Tandy, Kentucky got Demarco Robinson, who caught 73 passes for a Georgia state record of 1,655 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior at Martin Luther King in Ellenwood; Rashad Cunningham, a 6-4 200-pounder from Mobile, Ala.; and Nile Daniel, a 6-1 185-pounder from Griffin, Ga., who reportedly has been timed at 4.39 in the 40-yard dash.
The recent transfer of Ryan Mossakowski also made quarterback a priority, and UK signed two in Maxwell Smith, who is already enrolled, and Theltus Cobbins, a multipurpose threat out of New Orleans. The Cats also brought in a pair of local offensive linemen in Bryan Station's Darrian Miller and Lexington Christian's Zach West.
Kentucky signed a pair of players who could help offset the loss of Davis, a four-star tight end who originally committed to UK in December 2009. Alvin Dupree, a 6-4 230-pounder from Irwington, Ga., and Josh Forrest, a 6-3 213-pounder from Paducah Tilghman, are listed as athletes but could get a look at tight end.
Davis reopened his recruitment last month and took visits to Illinois and Louisville two weeks ago. Davis' father, Reggie, said he planned to issue a formal apology to Phillips for his son's decision but, in the end, the family felt Illinois was a better fit.
"We started looking at what's best for Jon," Reggie Davis said. "We just started asking the normal questions. Does this offense suit Jon? Does this school, team and campus environment suit Jon? When he went to Illinois, he was re-energized. I talked to Joker before Jon made his announcement, and he asked, 'What changed? What did we do wrong?' I said, 'Nothing. Absolutely nothing.' It was just about fit."