SDS will break down all 14 SEC schools and the challenges they face in recruiting, and how they overcome them. At the end, we’ll rank them in terms of who is set up best for success–based on factors like in-state talent, recent success on the field, fan expectations and the coaching situation. We will also give the school a ‘situation’ grade (A, B, C, D, F) in each category. Some states have an A-level volume of talent, others don’t … that’s how it will work. At the end of the series we’ll do a final overall ranking.
HOME STATE TALENT: “D” – It isn’t that there is zero talent in Kentucky, this year’s signees Drew Barker and Matt Elam prove that, as does 2015 running back Damien Harris. The problem is, usually only about 3 or 4 in-staters are good enough to play in the SEC, and the Wildcats have to go elsewhere (namely, Ohio) to stock the roster.
RECENT SUCCESS: “C” – This is an interesting situation. See, on one hand the ‘Cats went 2-10 last year and that hurts, but it also proves they need quick help and freshmen will play early, not to mention 2nd year coach Mark Stoops has recruited as well as anybody at Kentucky in years. Some positives here.
FAN EXPECTATIONS: “A” – Fan expectations don’t hurt Kentucky-in football, at least. In fact, the fanbase is pretty enthusiastic about the job Stoops is doing in recruiting and is rallying around this program.
COACHING STABILITY: “A” – Stoops isn’t going anywhere this year, and that helps with recruiting. If the improvements continue, he’ll be here until another program scoops him up–and that’s probably a few years away.
SUM IT UP: There hasn’t been this much positive vibe around Kentucky football for many years, and it’s not because folks think the ‘Cats will instantly win 9 games and compete in the SEC East. It’ll be a slower process than that, but recruiting is the biggest reason for the optimism. The staff has done a fantastic job with the 2013, 2014 and so far with 2015 … now if they can coach them up, this program should win some games.
Editor’s note: Any reference to recruiting ratings in this series–team or individual–are to 247Sports.com’s industry composite ranking.