Vaught's Views: Barnhart likes Brooks' second recruiting class

February 04, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

While Kentucky didn't get every in-state recruit it wanted and obviously did not fill every need it has, Rich Brooks probably has no big complaints about the recruiting class he has put together this year at Kentucky.

Twenty-one high school players were expected to sign with Kentucky today to go along with the five junior college players that signed in December and are already enrolled at Kentucky.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart likes the way Brooks and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips put this class together.

"Rich has always been a very active recruiter, and Joker has a reputation for being an outstanding organizer," said Barnhart. "What they have done is they looked at the depth and numbers we have and they figured out the most creative way to organize the team in terms of adding immediate help in certain areas. We gained help with our junior college class and will augment that with players coming in and ones that are going to grayshirt until January. You put that all together and it gives you better numbers and experience."


Kentucky missed on Trinity quarterback Brian Brohm, but it was expected to sign offensive lineman Micah Jones of Mayfield and receiver Lonnell Dewalt of Warren Central - the state's best players at their respective positions.

Defensive back Marcus McClinton and linebacker Gabe Wallace of Fort Campbell are both highly regarded.

The two best out-of-state recruits, based on recruiting rankings, are running back Rafael Little of South Carolina and defensive end Nij Adjei Oninku of Ohio.

"Obviously you are not going to get every player across the state," Barnhart said. "There is a game to the recruiting process and at times it does not work out. I think Rich and Joker have done a great job, and I hear very favorable things about them and the way they have conducted their recruiting. I think it is honest and forthright."

It also has been innovative.

Brooks and his assistants have trusted their instincts for developing talent and have taken some players that were not highly regarded because they visualize future improvement.

Franklin says recruiting rankings are "overrated"

Former UK offensive coordinator Tony Franklin says way too much stock is put in recruiting rankings.

"All that stuff is way overrated," Franklin said. "I'll guess that 99 percent of the kids being ranked have not been seen by a particular recruiting analyst and that analyst really doesn't know how good the kid is. All it takes to become a recruiting guru is to put up a Web site, rank players and say you know all about it."

Franklin still remembers how many recruiting analysts were not that high on receiver Derek Abney.

Franklin knew as soon as he saw the Wisconsin receiver play that he was a marquee player, and Abney leaves UK as one of the best ever to play for the Wildcats.

"The Kentucky coaches are better off picking players they see and like and not worrying about those rankings," Franklin said. "I guarantee you if you look at Miami of Ohio's recruiting class four years ago, it was probably ranked 100th in the nation."

Of course, Miami finished the season in the top 20 and beat Louisville in the GMAC Bowl.

Franklin can offer two prime examples of little-known recruits who turned out to be big-time players at Kentucky.

He went to Virginia and found defensive back David Johnson, who had no Division I offers at the time.

He became a freshman All-American and was a valuable player at Kentucky from 1998-2002.

Franklin also recalls Phillips going to Georgia to find receiver Quentin McCord when Phillips was on Bill Curry's staff at Kentucky.

"I don't think anyone else in the country was recruiting Quentin at the time," Franklin said. "He had a great career at Kentucky (from 1996-2000) and then spent three years in the NFL. But his name would not have been on any of those can't-miss recruiting lists that are so popular."

Maybe Jarrell Williams of Cincinnati, Shomari Moore of New Jersey, Ted Bullock of Ohio, Richard Lyons of New Orleans, or Cole Mason and Tony Dixon of Alabama will turn out to be the next McCord or Johnson.

"Rich Brooks' job depends on what he sees and does, not what a recruiting analyst thinks," Franklin said.

"Whether he's ranked or not by recruiting analysts is not a factor. They just need to have faith in their judgment."

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