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Insider

Mark Stoops pushing 'first is best' strategy

6/13/2013

For years, Kentucky football fans have watched SEC rivals stomp into their recruiting territory and plunder some of the top players from the Bluegrass State. To change that, new Wildcats coach Mark Stoops knew he had to be creative, aggressive and forward-thinking when he arrived in Lexington.

Stoops immediately made it a priority to build relationships with high school coaches in Kentucky and in the neighboring states of Indiana and Ohio. It paid off with a 2013 class that finished No. 36 overall in ESPN's rankings and has helped the Wildcats push as high as No. 12 with this year’s crop.

He also pushed his assistants to be ultra-aggressive targeting younger prospects. The Wildcats reportedly have extended offers to more than 40 prospects in the Class of 2015 as well as to a small handful of players in the 2016 group.

Word surfaced that the Wildcats had extended an offer to Indiana eighth-grader-to-be Jairus Brents on Thursday. Brents, along with his godfather, Chris Vaughn, said they received the offer from Kentucky cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley after the 13-year-old defensive back starred at a Wildcats camp this past weekend.

Like it or not -- and the reaction from social media has trended quickly toward the negative -- recruiting is often a game of who asks first.