NCF On The Trail: Kentucky Wildcats

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2015
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This was one of two remaining weekends for recruits to take visits until national signing day. The weekend was full of news including over 10 commitments in the SEC. Here’s a closer look at some of the top news from around the conference this weekend.

Midyear additions:  Kentucky

January, 22, 2015
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Six players have enrolled at Kentucky and are expected to participate in spring practice, according to UKAthletics.com:

George Asafo-Adjei, OG
HT: 6-4 WT: 295
Positional Rank: #58 OG
Stars: 3

C.J. Conrad, TE-Y
HT: 6-5 WT: 225
Positional Rank: #11 TE-Y
Stars: 3

Kengera Daniel, DE
HT: 6-5 WT: 250
Positional Rank: #37 DE
Stars: 3

Greg Hart, TE-Y
HT: 6-5 WT: 240
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Transfer

Jordan Jones, OLB
HT: 6-2 WT: 210
Positional Rank: #36 OLB
Stars: 3

Courtney Love, ILB
HT: 6-1 WT: 240
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Transfer

SEC's top recruiting visits 

January, 16, 2015
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With national signing day less than three weeks away, it is officially crunch time. There are only three recruiting weekends left for visits, and most schools plan to take full advantage of those available weekends. Here are a closer look at some of the top visits around the SEC this weekend.

Auburn


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No. 2 running back Damien Harris announces at 1:15 p.m. ET Friday between Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio State, but this has always been a Crimson Tide-Wildcat recruiting battle.


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Damien Harris to announce Friday 

January, 8, 2015
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Running back Damien Harris announces his commitment on Friday at 1:15 p.m. eastern time, and has his list narrowed to Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio State. The No. 2 ranked running back has kept his decision close to the vest, which has everyone guessing where he will end up.

He has weighed the options and looked at the pros and cons of each school, but he has to pick just one.

"There is playing time, number of players at your position on the roster, distance from home, education levels," he said. "Those are some of the basic principles, and obviously great football tradition."

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UA game: The all-lobby team 

December, 28, 2014
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sunday was check-in day for the Under Armour All-America game week. The game will be broadcast on ESPN 2 on Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. ET. There were several moments caught on camera during the day that were posted on social media. Here's a closer at the best sights and sounds from the players during check-in.

ESPN 300 defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko, a Texas Tech pledge, startled everyone in the room when he gave his native island of Hawaii some love in the following Vine video:



Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart showed up to the check-in carrying a "Chucky Doll." The doll, which started as a tradition at Florida with Dominique Easley and then Dante Fowler Jr., has now found its way to Cowart. For Florida State and Auburn fans, it wasn't a tip as to where he is leaning toward committing. Cowart also was sporting FSU shorts and later mentioned Auburn as a favorite in an interview.



Four-star running back Damien Harris did a vine video announcing his final three and his announcement date of Jan. 9.



The best haircut at the UA check-in belongs to kicker Drew Galitz, a Baylor recruit, who showed off his unique hairstyle on a Vine video.

Top sleeper commits: SEC 

December, 19, 2014
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than a hundred FBS programs competing for talent it takes more than just those top-rated prospects to have success. Rosters are built largely with prospects which enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key. Every year we see prospects that flew under the radar but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations we've come across many players who show promise and are great additions based on their upside for development and/or scheme fit.

Here are five commitments in the SEC that we feel are unheralded, but great additions worth keeping an eye on.


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Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
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What is the dead period and why is it an important time in football recruiting? Plus, Texas Tech’s loss at quarterback could be Baylor’s gain.

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video Kentucky is ascending on the field under Mark Stoops, improving from two wins in 2013 to five in 2014, and the Wildcats are reaping the rewards on the recruiting front. Kentucky is currently sitting at No. 24 in the ESPN 2015 class rankings, but the Wildcats' Class of 2016 may be the best yet. Over the weekend, the Wildcats grabbed a third ESPN Junior 300 commit when offensive lineman Drake Jackson added his name to a verbal list that includes cornerback Jordan Griffin and offensive tackle Landon Young.

Even in today’s age of attention-grabbing announcements, Jackson may have one-upped everyone by presenting Stoops and staff with a cake prior to committing:


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SEC season recruiting superlatives 

December, 8, 2014
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Looking back at the just-completed regular season, it has been another wild year in the SEC, both on the field and in recruiting. There have been several huge commitments, some big decommitments and, as always, a few surprises. Here’s a closer look at the the SEC’s recruiting superlatives.


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The good news Thursday was that both Florida and Nebraska filled their open coaching positions in a timely manner, but the bad news is we’re less than 60 days until signing day. Plus, what type of recruiter is Nebraska getting?


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James Franklin comes up big again on the recruiting trail, playing a key role in landing talented cornerback Garrett Taylor. Plus, don’t be surprised if the silly season produces some major recruiting drama over the next two months.


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Class rankings: Nov. 12 update

November, 12, 2014
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Alabama continues its long run in the No. 1 spot of the class rankings, but for the first time in a little over three months there is a new team sitting behind the Crimson Tide. Georgia moved up to the No. 2 spot after picking up its 13th commitment from an ESPN 300 prospect with the addition of Rashad Roundtree. The top-five safety prospect is the fourth secondary commitment in the Bulldogs?? class. A tall, athletic, and aggressive defender, Roundtree could potentially contribute early and develop into a well-rounded player. His best fit looks to be at strong safety, but with his range, size and physical nature he could potentially offer some versatility to Georgia??s back end.

While Bulldogs defensive addition helped them rise, a decommitment from an ESPN 300 LB led to Michigan slipping. The Wolverines?? class still has five ESPN 300 prospects, but their total number of commitments has dropped to eight and the loss of Darrin Kirkland Jr. is their second ESPN 300 decommitment in three weeks.

Nebraska saw a rise in the rankings after dipping into Louisiana for the second time in this class to land ESPN 300 WR Stanley Morgan, who is a good fit for the Cornhuskers, bringing good size, some playmaking ability and a competitive temperament to Lincoln.

Inside the rankings

Since coming to Kentucky prior to the 2013 season, Mark Stoops and his staff have brought an entirely new approach to recruiting in Lexington. The Wildcats are ahead of schedule in Year 2 and one game away from being bowl eligible, which would pay huge dividends in December when it comes time to host prospects.

The process began by taking a pro personnel approach to recruiting when it came to prioritizing staff meeting times and evaluation by coaches and support staff. In other words, the evaluation process of all prospects is a 365-day-a-year requirement when coaches and staff are not on the road. This is the approach he brought over from Florida State after working under Jimbo Fisher. Secondly, Kentucky needed to expand its footprint which is why Stoops was the perfect choice to lead this change. The state of Kentucky does not produce enough top-tier talent to support an 85-man roster which forces the staff to go outside its borders. Traditionally this would mean going south, and UK still will, but now the movement has moved north into Ohio where Stoops has roots.

In 2014, Kentucky signed 11 players from Ohio, and currently has seven players committed in the 2015 class from Ohio. Their home state will always be the top priority and the Wildcats have won that battle as of late with the signing of QB Drew Barker, DE Jason Hatcher and DT Matt Elam, but the roster needs support from a net that more widely cast.

There is renewed enthusiasm and leadership under Stoops, a renovated stadium and millions of dollars being devoted to facilities enhancements which could make for a bright future in Lexington.



To see the full class rankings, click here.
It is easy to see why Oregon, Texas A&M and Auburn are working hard to land ESPN 300 athlete Kirk Merritt. He might be only a sophomore, but recruiting fans need to learn Joshua Paschal's name.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 4, 2014
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As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the SEC. There were a few big commitments, key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here is a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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