Now that the University of Kentucky’s football season has mercifully ended – the Wildcats finished 2-10 and 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference – the Big Blue can turn its attention to next year. That’s a welcomed reprieve.
UK football next fall should look a lot different than this one.
Head coach Mark Stoops, an Ohio native, will enter his second season next year with the best football recruiting class in recent Kentucky history. Since recruiting services started keeping class rankings, the Wildcats have never had a class this high. UK’s 2014 class is ranked No. 9 by Rivals.com, No. 11 by Scout.com and No. 16 by 247sports.com. Last year’s class (top 35) was the program’s previous best.
Of UK’s 25 commits, 10 are from Ohio, including Wayne linebacker Dorian Hendrix (6 feet, 230 pounds), Lakota East offensive lineman Jarrett LaRubbio (6-5, 260), Springfield receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass (6-1, 170) and Lakota West running back Mikel Horton (6-1, 225),
Hendrix, who was Stoops’ first 2014 commit, was recently named first team All-GWOC Central Division after registering 86 tackles. He’s also the All-Area Division I defensive player of the year.
Rubbio and Horton were both named first team All-GMC. Horton finished the season with 1,203 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“Unbelievable player,” Stoops said of Horton to surfky.com. “Big, physical running back. He’s the whole package. He’s got agility. He’s got strength, and he’s got the size that we need to compete in this league.”
So does Snodgrass (6-1, 175). Often questioned for not producing bigger numbers in Springfield’s offense (he did end his senior season with 29 catches, 517 yards and six touchdowns), Snodgrass could shine at UK. Why? One of UK’s other recruits is quarterback Drew Barker (6-4, 210) of Conner High School in Hebron, Ky. Barker is Kentucky’s No. 1 prospect and one of the country’s top 10 QBs. He also had offers from Miami (Fla.), Louisville, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
Those five will be expected to help turn around a program that’s lost 14 straight SEC games.
Hendrix, Horton, Snodgrass, Barker and receiver T.V. Williams (Dallas) will enroll early.
“As I’ve said before, when we’re going to build this program, it starts with guys like that,” Stoops said. “That’s a great five guys that we’re able to touch on right now that are going to enroll in January.”
Keep an eye on: Mason sophomore Grant Kramer. The transfer from Bellbrook was the Comets placekicker this season and nailed 27-of-30 PAT attempts. He was also 1-for-2 on field goals. As a freshman, Kramer was tabbed a top prospect nationally by one recruiting service.