When Kentucky's football coaches look at the massive blue-and-white recruiting board in their office, they don't see some names they expected to see there a month ago.
They don't see some names littered with stars by recruiting services, as the Cats' class was at this time last season.
But when Mark Stoops looked over the 23 names on the big board Wednesday, he wasn't thinking about the six commitments UK lost in the past two weeks or the nine overall.
"I want to concentrate on the victories that we have in this group because there's a lot of guys in here ... that we had to fight awfully hard to keep against some very good teams," the Kentucky coach said on national signing day.
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The Cats' board has many names that appeared after late-night phone calls with coaches and hand-wringing early in the morning, many names that UK picked up in the final 24 hours.
"I'd be lying if I told you I was going to walk in here this morning and knew exactly how this was going to play out," Stoops said. "You never take anything for granted. So I was pleased with some of the way we closed on some guys."
Thanks to a late surge of signees, including defensive end Alvonte Bell, wide receiver Therrell Gosier, defensive back Will Jackson, defensive tackle Courtney Miggins, defensive back Derrick Baity and running back Sihiem King, the Cats' coaches cobbled together a class rated No. 35 overall by Rivals.com.
That rating is the lowest in Stoops' three seasons as head coach at Kentucky. UK had the No. 17 class in 2014 (with its 10 four-star prospects) and the No. 29 ranking with Stoops' first class.
The 2015 class, rated second to last in the Southeastern Conference ahead of just Vanderbilt, is still better than any UK class before Stoops' arrival.
Unlike the 2014 class, which national analysts applauded UK for being able to hold together, this one partially unraveled in the weeks leading up to signing day.
It was a trend nationally, with many schools plugging holes late, and it had many coaches, Stoops included, arguing that an early signing period should be considered.
But Kentucky coaches seemed pleased with the result.
"You're gonna get kids; you're gonna lose kids," new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "That's the way it is. The way I look at it is, you want kids that want to be here. If a kid doesn't want to be here, good luck to him."
Mid-year enrollee George Asafo-Adjei took a similar stance on the late defections in his signing class.
"I'm not really worried about it, because I know where we're going," said the offensive lineman from West Chester, Ohio, who said he thought the players who left would "regret it."
Stoops and staff seemed to have no regrets about the class, which includes 13 defensive players, five of those in the secondary: Marcus Walker, Chris Westry, Jackson, Baity and Kei Beckham.
"I felt like we really needed to upgrade and get some quality guys in the secondary, and I feel very good about this group," Stoops said.
Kentucky also added bulk on both sides of the trenches with offensive linemen Asafo-Adjei, Levon Livingston, Logan Stenberg and Mason Wolfe of Henderson County.
New defensive linemen include Bell, Kengera Daniel, Miggins and Javon Provitt, with the UK coach calling Bell and Miggins difference-makers.
"We went through some good recruiting battles to land those guys," he said. "So I feel very good about the defensive line class, and the size and the strength and the explosiveness of that group."
Kentucky, which finished 5-7 last season, also was able to fill some position needs with longer wide receivers in Gosier (6-foot-6), Tavin Richardson (6-3) and Jabari Greenwood (6-3), and tight ends C.J. Conrad and Nebraska transfer Greg Hart.
Getting King, the running back, late was big, too, the head coach said.
"He's a guy that we felt like had big-play ability and great speed," Stoops said. "So he was a great addition to our class late throughout the process."
■ The team also announced five players who confirmed their commitments to join UK as non-scholarship players: linebacker Elijah Barnett (Henry Clay); long snapper Blake Best of Suwanee, Ga.; linebacker Alexander Brownell (Ryle); quarterback Davis Mattingly (Male); and offensive lineman Sullivan Simpson (Henry Clay).