Jen Smith on UK Football

No time for bowl celebrations; Cats staff focused squarely on recruiting

palcala@herald-leader.com

There was the impromptu celebration with fans in front of the new football training facility after the win over Louisville.

There was a celebratory glass of bourbon for head coach Mark Stoops later that night.

But those were the only non-scheduled parts of his week. Less than 24 hours after the regular season finale, Stoops and Kentucky’s coaches immediately went on the road to recruit.

“It’s all recruiting right now,” he said, noting that UK had 16 recruits on campus this weekend. “We only have two weeks to get in front of kids in December, so we’ll do that and we’ll be recruiting for the most part these two weeks and then when we get back this weekend, we’ll start our bowl preparation.”

The original thinking was that the 2017 recruiting class would not be a full class because of the large numbers in the past couple of classes, but some earlier team attrition likely will put UK’s class in the 20-24 player range. The current known commits are at 15.

Still on Stoops’ wish list? Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, a couple of defensive backs and linebackers. But he didn’t limit it to those position groups.

“We’ll end up recruiting a bunch,” he said. “We’re not going to -- we’re going to keep on trying to get them in the boat.”

There’s also the work to keep current commits in the boat at this time of year, too.

“We’ve always got to hold everybody we have,” Stoops said. “That’s always an issue, and nobody’s going to stop recruiting. So we’ll continue to try to hold everybody we have committed and continue to get some other positions.”

His plan is still to recruit within a six-hour radius of campus with a heavy emphasis on Ohio players, but he noted that there will be more than a few supplemental players from Florida, where Kentucky will play in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 31 against Georgia Tech. UK has quite a few coaches on staff with experience recruiting that state as well and they’ve had some success there.

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