NCF On The Trail: Kentucky Wildcats

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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.

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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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?

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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.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
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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.


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Early Offer: Hogs dominate in-state 

October, 26, 2014
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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.

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Best of the visits: SEC

October, 26, 2014
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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
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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.


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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.

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Best of the visits: SEC

October, 12, 2014
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From the Mississippi State win over Auburn to Florida’s tough 30-27 loss to LSU on Saturday night, there were some incredible games around the SEC over the weekend. Several prospects attended the games, while others watched on television and used social media as a platform to share their experiences. Here's a look at some of the top social media posts from the weekend around the SEC:

Mississippi State and Ole Miss were the talk of the college football world Saturday. The Bulldogs beat Auburn convincingly at home, while the Rebels traveled to College Station to beat Texas A&M. Several recruits who attended or watched on television tweeted about the two schools' performances.

The No. 2-ranked safety in the country, Jamal Peters, sent out a few different tweets in support of Mississippi State, the school he is committed to.


Another Bulldogs defensive back commit, Maurice Smitherman, expressed his feelings via Twitter as well.


The No. 143-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300, Emmitt Gooden, took a selfie during his unofficial visit to Starkville for the big game.


Ole Miss commits Eric Swinney and Cam Ordway tweeted out their support of the Rebels.


The No. 1-ranked running back in the ESPN 300 visited Kentucky for the third consecutive week. Damien Harris sent out an Instagram photo of himself posing with a young Kentucky fan at the game.


Three-star Tennessee running back commit Rocky Reid posed for a photo with a fan Saturday. Reid has been committed to the Volunteers since April.


Five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson posed for a picture outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during an unofficial visit to Florida. Jefferson, who has been to Florida three times this season, is sporting a Gators hat in the photo.


ESPN 300 tight end Devonaire Clarington made an unofficial visit to The Swamp on Saturday to watch Florida’s tough 30-27 loss to LSU. Clarington posed for a picture wearing a Florida jersey while on his visit.


Three-star safety Hunter Dale, despite Florida’s loss, appeared to have enjoyed his experience in Gainesville.

Help is on the way: SEC 

October, 8, 2014
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Almost midway through the season and teams such as Arkansas and Texas A&M have shown the obvious strengths of their teams with their running backs and wide receivers, respectively. But in most cases every team has an apparent weakness, too. Here’s a closer look at how each team in the SEC will address its needs through recruiting.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
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As always there was a ton of recruiting news from around the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss, Kentucky and Auburn impressed several recruits with their big wins on Saturday and there were a few new offers in the SEC over the weekend. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.


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Pac-12 coaches believe upsets by Arizona, Arizona State and Utah could also shake things up in recruiting. Mississippi Madness is in full effect, as both Ole Miss and Mississippi State receive recruiting boosts after big victories.


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Not only did Kentucky score a huge win on the field Saturday, beating South Carolina, the Wildcats also made their mark on the recruiting trail in the 2015 and 2016 recruiting classes with a flurry of commitments. In the 2016 class, ESPN Junior 300 cornerback Jordan Griffin becomes the second Junior 300 pledge, joining offensive tackle Landon Young (No. 271).


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