A few days after the Kentucky football team's triple-overtime loss at Florida, UK Coach Mark Stoops spoke of "a positive vibe" among recruits who, he said, can see the Cats are getting better.
They took another step in the right direction last weekend with the program's first Southeastern Conference victory in nearly three years. Saturday night's home game against South Carolina offers Stoops another grand opportunity to make a good impression.
The list of visiting recruits for the clash with the Gamecocks is growing by the day, and it already includes some of the Cats' most-coveted targets in the class of 2015 and beyond.
For starters, Madison Southern running back Damien Harris is expected to make another appearance in Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. The nation's No. 1 running back has already come to town for two of UK's three home games. The only one he missed conflicted with his official visit to Ohio State.
Harris is also considering Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M, and he plans to announce his college decision Dec. 12.
North Carolina defensive end Kengera Daniel confirmed his plans to use an official visit to come to Lexington this weekend. Daniel — a 6-foot-6, 250-pound prospect — is one of the Cats' top remaining priorities in the class of 2015.
He recently cut his list to UK, Louisville, Alabama, N.C. State and Virginia, and many analysts consider Kentucky the leader in his recruitment.
Ohio standouts Andrew and David Dowell have not yet confirmed that they'll attend Saturday's game, but the twin brothers are expected to be here. Both Dowells play multiple positions and are considered four-star prospects by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
There have been recent rumblings that the brothers are planning to publicly commit to the Wildcats soon, and that could happen with a trip to Lexington this weekend.
NCAA rules prevent college coaches from talking about specific recruits, but they are allowed to communicate about the topic in generalities. UK recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow did just that with a tweet Wednesday, alluding to the coaching staff's penchant for referencing Yahtzee whenever they land a big recruit.
"Great group coming this week BBN. Maybe a big surprise. Time to roll some dice."
Marrow is the primary recruiter for Andrew and David Dowell, who are high school teammates of UK commitment Alex Stump.
The "big surprise" Marrow mentioned could be an official visit from four-star linebacker Nick Conner, who was one of UK's top recruiting priorities for the class of 2015 before he committed to Ohio State in June.
Rivals.com ranks Conner as the No. 5 inside linebacker and No. 120 overall prospect in the senior class. He's also listed as the fifth-best player in Ohio, and Marrow has stayed in touch since his pledge to the Buckeyes.
UK's two in-state commitments for the class of 2015 — Eli Brown and Mason Wolfe — will both be in town Saturday. Fellow commitments George Asafo-Adjei and Jordan Jones are also expected to attend the South Carolina game.
Three-star wide receiver Tavin Richardson — a South Carolina native — told the Herald-Leader this week that he will make the trip. Richardson is down to UK, U of L, Nebraska and Central Florida. He is UK's top remaining target at receiver.
Cincinnati offensive lineman George Brown is also on the guest list. Brown — a four-star prospect in the class of 2015 — committed to Florida in July but has stayed in regular contact with the UK coaches.
The group of visitors from the class of 2016 includes five-star prospect Rahshaun Smith, who Rivals ranks as the No. 15 overall junior in the country and the best defensive end in that class.
The Baltimore native is close to UK freshman linebacker Kobie Walker, who has already helped UK land some commitments from the D.C. area.
Woodford County offensive lineman Drake Jackson — one of UK's top recruits for 2016 — told the Herald-Leader that he plans to attend Tennessee's home game against Florida, which kicks off at noon. He's hoping to be back in Lexington in time for the UK game.
UK commitment Zy'Aire Hughes is among the other class of 2016 prospects who will be in town Saturday. Highly touted sophomore wide receiver Russ Yeast — the son of UK football legend Craig Yeast — will also be at the game.
Kentucky currently has 14 commitments for the class of 2015 and two commitments for the class of 2016.