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Ten wins, Citrus Bowl has added to UK’s national prestige

Kentucky football enhanced its national image with its 2018 season. (Mont Dawson Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Winning 10 games and beating Penn State in the Citrus Bowl has had the impact on the Kentucky football one might have expected — or at least hoped for if you are a Kentucky football fan.

“I’d say nationally it has without a doubt. I think as you go through the different states and all the places where I’ve been, you can just read between the lines and see the places where we recruit. You go out there nationally, and I think people always had a great belief in what we were doing and how we were going about it, but you see it now take it to another level,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said.

“So it’s been very, very helpful and very appreciative of the positive response that we’ve gotten out there.”

Stoops said people he didn’t know extremely well and different coaches have made it obvious there is a new respect for UK football.  Stoops said those he has “a history with and certain areas I’ve been in for a long time” now him and what he stands for.

“I think now it’s just, again, to a higher level. People realize and can see the documented success, and they know we’re just trying to continue to take it to another level,” Stoops said.

Only six schools — Alabama (11), Clemson (11), Ohio State (10), Georgia (9), Mississippi (9) and Washington (9)— had more players invited to the NFL combine than UK. The Cats also could have two first-round draft picks in Josh Allen and Lonnie Johnson. 

So do recruits now tell Stoops he’s a rock star in the college football world?

“I haven’t had to answer that,” Stoops said.  “I’m getting the other side of that most of the time. I really don’t have to answer that. I’m quite — very happy with where I’m at, and the university has been very fair to me, and I appreciate what they’ve done. So I’m just worried about grinding out another year, making sure they don’t run me off.”

 

1 comment

  1. The 2018 season was a good year no doubt, but it didn’t seem to help UK’s 2019 recruiting much since they finished 12th in the SEC, and 34th nationally. I still don’t see UK getting a lot of respect nationally for their football accomplishments in the Stoops era, but it is slowly changing, I think, towards a more positive story. Stoops needs several more 10, 11 win seasons before that begins to really change minds, and bear fruit.

    The 2019 season is the next big test for this program. I don’t think a roster heavy laden with 3 star athletes will cut it in the SEC. If Stoops and staff prove me wrong I will apologize. I want to see this program grow, and be a solid competitor for an SEC championship, but Stoops needs a whole lot more 4 and 5 star talent than he currently has to get that done. The game against Georgia for the East championship this past year proved that. UK just don’t have the players yet to challenge the best in the SEC in football.

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