As the Kentucky Season finally came to an end with Saturday’s loss to the dreaded Vols, I decided to listen to some of the post game call-in shows to hear what BBN had to say in regards to this season…and most of it wasn’t good to say the least. In my opinion, many Kentucky fans had unreasonable expectations for this year’s Kentucky team. Was a bowl game out of the question? Maybe not, but 2-10 was a more likely scenario with the talent that Stoops inherited. I understand the frustration of every single Kentucky fan. They have seen nothing but bad to mediocre teams in their day, and they’re craving a good football team. So my advice to you would be, don’t look at today’s record, look at the recruiting classes that’s just joined the team and that are on their way to Lexington. I wanted to give BBN peace knowing what Mark Stoops has been dealing with, and what’s in store for the future. So, I decided to try and take a peek into the crystal ball for Mark Stoops and company, while looking at Kentucky’s past/present/future recruiting numbers, and BBN should be nothing but excited about the future.
So what is in store for Kentucky Football under Mark Stoops? Kentucky football has unfortunately always been considered the “doormat of the SEC” since it’s existence, but interestingly enough Kentucky fans have a lot to be excited about in the coming years. I’ve always subscribed to the notion that “numbers never lie”, and after sitting down this morning to try and understand the trend of Kentucky football recruiting, I saw some interesting trends in the numbers. My immediate thoughts were, “the cavalry is coming…be patient BBN.”
As you can see with the first graph that recruiting is on the upswing at Kentucky (as many of you already knew), but the increase was more staggering than I last thought. Some quick trends that jumped off the page at me were: The drastic drop off of 2 star players from the mid 2000′s compared with today is eye-opening. Another interesting trend is the number of 3 and 4 stars that have increased each year, especially under Mark Stoops. While recruiting did improve under Joker, his ability to coach up his talent and make weekly personnel changes led to his demise. Under Rich Brooks Kentucky was only able to pull in 5 total 4 star athletes while in Lexington. Joker was able to improve upon Brooks’s number and bring 7 total 4 star players to Kentucky…but as we all know, Stoops has equalled both Brooks and Joker combined in his 2 “recruiting seasons” by bringing in a total of 11 4 stars guys (Yes, I know there could be attrition with this class, so spare the comments below).
Graphs 2-4 illustrate the amount recruits that signed with Kentucky that were either a 2, 3, or 4 star. You can see the drastic drop off of the 2 star athletes, while the major upswing with the amount of 3 and 4 star players.
Kentucky averaged around 20 2 star athletes per class during the Rich Brooks era. Brooks was known for finding “diamonds in the rough” and coaching them up to become studs such as: Trevard Lindley, Myron Pryor, Jeremy Jarmon, and Braxton Kelley. Which is the biggest reason Kentucky was competitive under Brooks. His ability to mold his players into solid Sunday performers, will never go unnoticed. Under Mark Stoops, he is averaging only 1, 2 star player in his classes that he’s recruited.
While recruiting did improve under Joker, his ability to coach up his talent and make weekly personnel changes led to his demise. Under Rich Brooks, Kentucky was only able to pull in 5 total 4 star athletes while in Lexington. Joker was able to improve upon Brooks’s number and bring 7 total 4 star players to Kentucky…but as we all know, Stoops has equalled both Brooks and Joker combined in his 2 “recruiting seasons” by bringing in a total of 12 4 stars guys (Yes, I know there could be attrition with this class, so spare the comments below). So let me say this again. In just a year’s time, Mark Stoops has been able to match that by bringing 12 4 star athletes himself. It’s astounding that he’s been able to do so in such a short time period. Currently, Kentucky is tied for 11th with LSU and Clemson for most 4 star athletes this season. Let me repeat that. Kentucky is tied with LSU and Clemson in a statistic that involves football.
Another interesting trend that Kentucky fans should notice is the rise of the average star from the 2005 to today. As you can see with the graph above, the average stars per class has increased steadily throughout the Brooks and Phillips era, but as soon as Stoops arrived Kentucky became a major player in the recruiting scene. The average star in the 2005 class was 2.15. If Kentucky can hang on to this class they are looking at bringing a class of 3.33. That is a difference of 1.18 per player. That’s an incredible increase in 9 years. That’s the difference between Kentucky “Posing” in the SEC (as our favorite assistant coach Clint Hurtt so eloquently told us on Facebook), and competing. Stoops has only been on the job for a year and the impact he’s having is incredible and one that UK fans should be excited about, not frown about.
It’s hard for Kentucky Fans to not get down about this season. This season didn’t bring Kentucky Fans the instant success that they desired…but as you can see from the data above, that trend is changing. Fans do have a right to complain especially if they paid good money for their seats, I just want to point you towards the future. The cavalry is coming BBN, the cavalry is coming. The difference in quality of player that Stoops is bringing in, is the difference in 2-10 and bowl eligible and even possibly competing for a New Year’s Day bowl. Will that happen next year? Maybe, maybe not…but Stoops is bringing in quality players to do so.