By LARRY VAUGHT
Ohio three-star running back Torrance Davis — who had offers from Michigan State, Penn State, Maryland, Tennessee and others — gave his verbal commitment to Kentucky Friday.
On Saturday Kentucky added another running back — 5-10, 180-pound JuTahn McClain of Fairfield, Ohio, who had offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame is ranked as the nation’s sixth best all-purpose running back by 247Sports.
The Ohio running backs join quarterback Beau Allen, offensive linemen Justin Rogers and John Young, cornerback Andru Phillips and defensive lineman Lamar Goods in UK’s 202 recruiting class.
Kentucky also got a verbal commitment this weekend from 2021 outside linebacker Rhoody Jean Louis of Miami Central (Florida).
“We have got to keep recruiting the right dudes. We can’t bring in the wrong dudes,” Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow said when asked about continuing UK’s on-field success. “Same plan Mark (Stoops) had to build this thing, we better stay on that same plan or we will go back.”
Kentucky has been to three straight bowl games and is coming off a historic 10-win season that included not only a Citrus Bowl win over Penn State but also a 5-3 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
So is it harder to stay at the top of the mountain than it is just to get there?
“I think it is harder to get there. I don’t think people realize the hard job Mark had,” Marrow said. ‘I am always positive and I thought we might win four or five games that first year but I remember when (former offensive coordinator) Neal Brown told us in that country accent, ‘I am going to tell you Big Dog, it’s going to be a long season. We are bad.’
“I didn’t realize that until we played Western Kentucky (in the first game). I am thinking we are doing a good job coaching but I wasn’t thinking personnel. It was pregame and they looked better than us. I turned to (offensive line) coach (John) Schlarman and said, ‘Aren’t we supposed to have the better looking dudes.’ Turns out they had more pro prospects. They had six, we had one. We were bad.”
Marrow knew Kentucky had to change what it was doing to attract players, so UK did.
“You have to be very strategic in your recruiting. They (former coaches) went south (to recruit) but were not getting top tier guys. They were getting third tier guys from certain states,” Marrow said. “When Mark Stoops set his goal to recruit the best players in Kentucky no matter how many and then we went into Ohio where they had not gone.
“(Strength coach) Rock Oliver is from Ohio and he said, ‘When I seen how you were going into Ohio to get these guys, I told (athletics director) Mitch (Barnhart) now we are going to have some good players.’ We started getting players from Ohio and (Washington) D.C.
“For us to stay on top now, we are not sneaking up on nobody any more. Kentucky was a blackout game for South Carolina. One of my best friends is defensive coordinator at Georgia and I remember when played them in (20)16 and he said that we finally had dudes. We do but that’s what we have to keep doing. This is no time to let up.”