By LARRY VAUGHT
The message from Lynn Bowden was short but significant.
“You know where home is,” Bowden posted on Twitter Friday night after Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow had confirmed on Twitter that he was not leaving Kentucky for a similar position at Michigan State.
The offer came after the Spartans hired Mel Tucker as the new coach earlier this week. Tucker and Marrow had never worked together but have been friends for years and it was not a great surprise he targeted Marrow immediately. Marrow, an Ohio native, has turned into one of the nation’s best recruiters.
Marrow is an Ohio native that is regarded as one of the best in the country when it comes to landing players. He’s helped Kentucky win recruiting battles over Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State in recent years for players not only in Ohio but also Michigan. In UK’s 2020 recruiting class the Cats got the top player in Michigan, lineman Justin Rogers, along with No. 10 Deon Buford, an offensive lineman, and No. 21 Earnest Sanders, a receiver. Rogers and Buford are from Detroit and Sanders from nearby Flint.
Kentucky’s 2012 recruiting class was ranked 50th nationally before Marrow arrive. Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class is ranked 23rd and has been consistently in the top 25.
During his time at UK, Marrow has probably been the lead recruiter on perhaps half of the players who have signed with Kentucky, including Bowden and running back Benny Snell — two of maybe the top 10 players ever to play for the Cats.
Marrow signed a new contract in January of 2019 that gave him $600,000 annually — making him the 95th highest paid assistant coach in college football — but Michigan State apparently offered him about $1 million annually. Kentucky made a counter offer Thursday before Michigan State reportedly offered him even more. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops returned to Lexington a day early to meet with Marrow and whatever he said apparently helped convince Marrow to stay.
Here is the message Marrow posted on Twitter that let UK fans know he was staying:
“#BBN, I’m staying home! Thank you for all of the love and support. Wow! You people are crazy. ￼ A big thanks goes to @UKCoachStoops, @UKMitchBarnhart, @UKYpres and @Marcus_D_Hill. This is a special place and we have #UnfinishedBusiness. Let’s go!”
Kentucky football and Kentucky athletics spends a lot of money annually. But so what? Kentucky got almost $44 million from the SEC last year and using another $500,000 or more to keep Marrow and generate even more money for UK is just a wise business move. No offense to UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran or defensive coordinator Brad White, but if you had to choose which coordinator to make sure didn’t leave UK it would have to be Marrow. Gran and White both benefit from players he recruits and great players make any coach an even better coach.
When UK needed a quarterback two years ago, he found Terry Wilson. When UK needed a big-time running back, he found Benny Snell. When UK needed a dynamic playmaker, he got Lynn Bowden. When UK needed another quarterback this year, he got Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood.
When the Cats were having trouble recruiting in Kentucky, Marrow took over and this year got offensive lineman John Young and quarterback Beau Allen along with others. He’s made UK a fixture in Louisville with recruits.
I remember a few weeks ago when Marrow was being courted by Youngstown State to be its head coach and return to his home before he opted to stay at UK. Former UK running back Anthony White told me then he was amazed at not only how Marrow could recruit, but also what a fixture he had become in the Lexington community and how popular he was with UK fans.
In reality, Marrow has become as much the face of UK football as Stoops and that’s why no matter what it cost to keep him — contract details will be released next week — it was money well spent.