Kentucky is expected to sign its best football recruiting class of the Rich Brooks era on Wednesday, including a pair of blue-chip quarterback prospects who should keep the Cats well-stocked under center for the next few years.
Kentucky has 27 commitments going into national signing day, and Scout.com has the Wildcats' class ranked 28th in the country.
If that ranking holds, it would be UK's highest since Scout began ranking recruiting classes in 2002. UK's most highly ranked class to date was the 2006 group that featured a five-star prospect in Micah Johnson, a pair of four-star prospects in Steve Johnson and Josh Minton, and Corey Peters, who was listed as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com.
UK's 2009 class is headlined by four-star quarterbacks Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski. They are set to send in their signed national letters of intent on Wednesday.
Newton, Indiana's Mr. Football and a Parade All-American, threw for 1,938 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 1,664 yards and 26 touchdowns for Carmel (Ind.) High School. Scout.com ranks him as the nation's sixth-best prep quarterback. Mossakowski was listed as the nation's fifth-best pro-style quarterback with the second-strongest arm in the pre-season, but he missed several games because of a shoulder injury and fell slightly in the rankings.
Both quarterbacks looked at UK's three straight bowl wins and newfound success on the recruiting trail as signs of a program on the rise.
"When I was going through the process of choosing a school, I saw Kentucky as a place that was on the verge of winning a lot of ball games," Newton said. "They really seemed like they were close. And hopefully, with the good players we have coming in, we can put it all together and push the program over the top. We want to compete for the SEC championship and hopefully a national championship."
"The most important thing is to establish and keep a winning tradition," Mossakowski said. "You win three straight bowl games, you start to establish that tradition with some of the older players, who come back and make sure the young guys keep it going. That's one of the things I've noticed that is happening at Kentucky."
Mossakowski had surgery to repair a torn labrum in November and said he's on schedule to begin throwing in five weeks. He expects to be ready for the start of fall camp in August.
"Everything is going ahead of schedule," Mossakowski said. "My shoulder feels pretty good. I just can't wait to start throwing again. I'm really expecting to be my old self by the summer."
Both quarterbacks who started games for Kentucky in 2008, sophomore Mike Hart line and freshman Randall Cobb, will be back in 2009. But Newton and Mossakowski expect to compete for the starting job.
"I'm looking forward to the competition," Mossakowski said. "In high school, I knew I had my spot. But at Kentucky, there's going to be two, three, four guys trying to take my job. I'm going to push them, they're going to push me, and we'll all make each other better."
Newton, also a standout basketball player, said he will visit Lexington on weekends during spring practice to expedite the process of learning the offense before enrolling at UK in the summer.
"I'm just going to take in and try and learn as much as I can so I can come in over the summer and put in my bid to compete and make this team better," Newton said.
In addition to stockpiling quarterback talent, the Wildcats appear to have addressed a depth problem at running back with commitments from three tailbacks: junior-college prospect Josh Morgan and high schoolers Donald Russell and Dakotah Tyler. UK also will add some much-needed help on the defensive line with junior-college tackle Mark Crawford, who's already enrolled; defensive tackles Mister Cobble and Myron Walker; and end prospects Tristian Johnson, Patrick Ligon and Donte Rumph, a 2008 signee who spent the past year at Fork Union Military Academy.
Kentucky is awaiting decisions from two prospects who could push the Cats a few spots higher in the recruiting rankings.
Four-star junior-college defensive end DeQuin Evans is expected to choose between Louisville and Kentucky on Wednesday. Evans was a teammate of Kentucky wide receiver commitment Chris Matthews at Los Angeles Harbor College.
And UK was visited last weekend by Atlanta's Darren Myles, one of the nation's top safety prospects. Myles, who is also considering Louisiana State, Alabama and Tennessee, will also announce his school on Wednesday.
Keep up with the Cats online
College football commitments become official beginning Wednesday, the first day players may sign national letters of intent. Go to Kentuckysports.com to see how UK fares: John Clay will blog live throughout the day.
Chip Cosby will post updates on his blog.
Check out photos, bios, audio and video of UK's signees.