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.”