By LARRY VAUGHT
I don’t think anyone can dispute that Kentucky’s recruiting under Mark Stoops continues to improve annually, one reason UK has now been to three straight bowls and finished 10-3 last year with a Citrus Bowl win over Penn State.
However, just to keep things in perspective, consider what SaturdayDownSouth.com writer Rick Stavig noted when he picked his 25 best impact freshmen in the league this year. Remember the SEC had four of the nation’s top five recruiting classes, seven of the top 12 and 11 of the top 24.
So how many of Kentucky’s freshmen made the top 25 cut? The answer — just one.
Louisville linebacker Jared Casey is the only Wildcat that Stavig had in a top 25 dominated by Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Texas A&M. But even Arkansas, a team UK will host this year, had three freshmen in the top 25.
Here’s what Stavig wrote about the UK freshman: “Casey, a 4-star, was the top-ranked prospect to sign with Kentucky in the 2019 recruiting class, and while the Cats appear to have their starting LB unit set, it’d be surprising if Casey didn’t work his way into the rotation. He has the pass rushing prowess to play outside, but the frame and run stuffing ability to thrive inside.”
Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow was on WKYB-FM with me Thursday and made it clear he liked UK’s signees.
“This might be the most well rounded class we have signed,” Marrow said. “Guys came in physically ready to work in the weight room and really have looked good.”
Marrow mentioned Casey, JJ Weaver, Moses Douglas, Isaiah Gibson, Demontae Crumes and Nik Ognenovic as freshmen he really liked.
“Douglas and Gibson are like grown men now,” Marrow said. “Nik is looking really good. Crumes can really run. Casey and Weaver look like SEC players now. Overall, that class is just really, really good.”
However, apparently not nearly as good as many others in the SEC — or at least not on paper going into their first collegiate season.