NCF On The Trail: Kentucky Wildcats

Early Offer: The dead period is here 

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
11:00
PM ET
video
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.
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:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SEC season recruiting superlatives 

December, 8, 2014
Dec 8
10:00
AM ET
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video

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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 4, 2014
Nov 4
10:00
AM ET
video
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.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

About this time of year coaches scour junior college ranks for offensive line talent, and thathas helped Tyler Howell become one of hottest targets around. Plus, is Clemson in danger of losing ESPN 300 commitment Juwuan Briscoe?

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
Elite 2016 quarterback Shea Patterson will be one of many top recruits in Oxford this weekend. While the SEC leads the way in total ESPN 300 commitments, it’s another conference that has secured the most pledges to this point.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
10:00
AM ET
video
As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There were a few big commitments, key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the SEC.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Early Offer: Hogs dominate in-state 

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26
11:30
PM ET
To win in the SEC, Arkansas knew it had to keep the star-studded 2015 in-state recruiting class at home, and that’s exactly what it has done. Plus, a rival recruiter believes Notre Dame’s class will be in the top five by the time signing day arrives.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Best of the visits: SEC

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26
12:10
PM ET
video
From LSU's close win over Ole Miss and Auburn’s victory over South Carolina, to Kentucky and Tennessee’s hard-fought losses to Mississippi State and Alabama, respectively, there were some great games around the SEC on Saturday. There were several recruits on hand to witness these games and share their experiences on social media. Here's a look at some of the top social media posts from the weekend:

Despite losing to Mississippi State on Saturday, Kentucky did receive some good news as 2016 inside linebacker Roland Walder verbally committed to the Wildcats. He announced his decision via Twitter. Walder also held offers from Pittsburgh and Toledo.
The No. 2-ranked running back in the ESPN 300, Damien Harris, once again visited the Wildcats for a home game. He has been a regular at a majority of Kentucky's home games this year. Several 2016 Kentucky prospects, including 2016 dual-threat quarterback Jimmy Ferrell, posed for a photo before the Kentucky game on Saturday. LSU recruits were impressed with the Tigers' 10-7 upset win over Ole Miss on Saturday. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Kyle Phillips and 2016 Florida commit Tre Jackson posted tweets about their thoughts on the game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Former LSU wide receiver Terrence Toliver posed for a photo with current LSU commit Kevin Toliver (yes, the two are related.) Auburn fullback commit Chandler Cox took an official visit to Auburn over the weekend and posted a photo of himself on the field before Auburn's exciting 42-35 win over South Carolina on Saturday. ESPN Junior 300 offensvie tackle Valentine Chidi-Okeke also visited Auburn over the weekend and posed for a picture with Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall after the game. Four-star wide receiver Ryan Newsome took an official visit to Tennessee this weekend. The ESPN 300 pass-catcher posted a photo of himself along with Tennessee wide receiver's coach Zach Azzanni. Four-star defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, the 41st-ranked player in the ESPN 300, stopped and posed with a fan before Tennessee's loss to Alabama on Saturday night. ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Emmitt Gooden posted a photo of himself along with former Tennessee offensive linemen Antonio Richardson before the game on Saturday.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
10:00
AM ET
video
As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. There were a few big commitments, key visits and new offers over the weekend. Here's a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Mississippi State's fast rise to No. 1 in the country will open even more doors for the Bulldogs in recruiting. Plus, even with all of Kentucky's success in Ohio, it couldn't stop the Buckeyes from taking away one of its commitments this weekend.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES