For the past couple of years, Kentucky’s coaches have spent their Decembers trying to fend off potential suitors for top players already committed to the Cats.
Those tables appear to have turned now that the Cats are bowl bound and have some momentum coming off a win over a top-15 team in Louisville and the Cardinals’ Heisman Trophy winner.
“Now you’ve got that win and they see where the program is going and we’re going after other people’s guys,” UK recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Vince Marrow said as the Cats run through preparations for the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 31.
“It’s a thing where I think most guys were committed somewhere else but liked us,” Marrow said. “They kept an eye (on us) and were like, let me see what these guys do. Then we beat Louisville and it was like, OK, I think these guys are on the right track now.”
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Coach Mark Stoops hinted at that a little bit earlier this month when reporters noted Lafayette’s Jedrick Wills at the UK practice facility. Wills, a five-star offensive lineman, is committed to Alabama.
“Are you peeking in our indoor?” Stoops laughed. “You know we never stop. We’re never gonna stop. We’re going to make it very difficult for somebody to tell us no.”
Knocking off Louisville gave Kentucky some credibility as it tries to round out the 2017 class, currently ranked No. 23 by Rivals.com (11th in the Southeastern Conference).
“I see a different pool of guys who are calling us now instead of us trying to beat down these guys’ door,” Marrow said of the Cats’ recent success on the field.
So what’s left for UK moving forward in this class, which has 20 players already and probably won’t go over the 25-commitment ceiling?
“I ain’t going to say no names, but it’s one guy, one dynamic guy that we definitely are waiting on,” Marrow said with a smile. “He could be in Ohio somewhere.”
Potential targets he could be discussing include Lynn Bowden, a two-way athlete from Ohio, but there are others who fit the description, including four-star wide receiver Danny Davis and four-star offensive lineman Thayer Munford.
“We’ve filled our needs; it’s just now just maybe getting a lineman here, a receiver there, another DB, and D-line.”
Kentucky wants to spend its last four or five spots on what Marrow called “wild cards” and “playmakers.
“Maybe they’re committed somewhere else, but you just want to say, ‘Hey, look at us and where we’re at now,’” he said.