Kentucky plans to be a part of satellite camps this offseason, but the Cats’ primary focus still will be getting players on campus and making the best impression possible.
UK’s Mark Stoops outlined some of his plans during Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference football coaches teleconference when asked about the recent NCAA ruling on off-campus camps.
“We will take part,” Stoops said of satellite events. “We’ll do several in Florida; we’ll do a couple in Ohio and one in Georgia as well.”
But Kentucky doesn’t want to “overdo it,” he said.
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“We want to continue to get players on our campus throughout the summer and our coaches work very hard to get prospects on our campus and in our camps — to unofficially come see us in the summer and see our campus — get familiar with us,” Stoops continued. “We want to continue to work that angle as well.”
That doesn’t deviate much from a plan the head coach and his recruiting staff have pushed previously.
Kentucky’s most effective recruiting in Stoops’ tenure has been getting recruits on campus double-digit times, said Dan Berezowitz, UK’s director of recruiting.
“The more times you get kids on campus, the more chance to get them,” Berezowitz told the Herald-Leader in February. “Guys we lost last year (were) from far away. If they don’t come and they have no relationship, it’s easy to say, ‘I’m not coming.’”
Many players from Ohio as well as 2016 signees like Davonte Robinson and Landon Young were on campus as many as 25 times unofficially, explained Vince Marrow, UK recruiting coordinator.
The hope is that a comfort level is established along the way, Stoops said a couple months ago.
“You get them here, just getting around them as many times as you can, that’s the point, then you really get to know people,” Stoops said. “You get to know their families, and they get to know you.”
The hope is that every time a player and his family return to campus, they see that it’s “the same atmosphere every time,” Berezowitz said. “The more times you get kids on campus, the more relationship you can build with them, the more a chance you keep them in the end.”
The satellite camps offer supplemental opportunities to create and establish relationships in states where UK already has a strong presence like Ohio, Florida and Georgia.
Kentucky, which didn’t have a Florida signee in the 2016 class for the first time since 2003, appears to have ramped up its efforts in the Sunshine State with the hirings of co-offensive coordinators Eddie Gran, Darin Hinshaw and wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas.
All three have a strong recruiting base in Florida, and new defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale seems to have opened some doors in Pennsylvania.
It doesn’t mean that UK’s recruiting footprint will change dramatically, though, Stoops said Wednesday.
“With the guys that I hired, I think that was intentional,” he said. “I know recruiting success that guys have in certain areas. We need to continue to do that.
“We need to continue to do great in the state of Kentucky, we need to continue to do very well in Ohio and we need to expand and continue to get those difference-makers and quality players throughout the South.”
Stoops encouraged Kentucky’s players to take some time off in May, but was pleasantly surprised by the number of them that are staying on campus to do extra work before their return dates in June.
“Quite a few of them opted to stay and go to summer school in May and, of course, our summer program kicks in full force,” he said.
One player Stoops is expecting to take a strong leadership role in summer workouts is newly crowned No. 1 quarterback Drew Barker, whom the head coach praised Wednesday.
“I’ve seen a big change in Drew and I want to continue to see that,” Stoops said on the teleconference. “This is one semester. He needs to have a great summer; he needs to be a great leader in organizing all voluntary workouts and throwing with receivers and running backs and tight ends.
“But I have seen a change. I’ve seen a maturity in him. I’ve seen him much more composed on and off the field. I see a guy who’s very hungry to learn and just settle in and continue to grow.”