Kentucky has one of its higher rated recruiting classes on campus now, and already had 12 scholarship commitments in its 2012 class, including four offensive linemen.
Yet many Kentucky fans are worried — or even disturbed — about UK’s recruiting. Some of it goes back to losing four-star players Lamar Dawson of Boyle County to USC or Jon Davis of Louisville to Illinois.
Kentucky has made a habit of taking two- or three-star players — Wesley Woodyard, Jacob Tamme, Danny Trevathan, Jeremy Jarmon, Randall Cobb — and turning them into four- or five-star producers on the field.
However, this year UK will turn to a four-star recruit, Morgan Newton, to play quarterback and lead the offense.
So what helped influence Newton to come to Kentucky? Was it Commonwealth Stadium? Was it a revamped weight room? Was it the promise of a new recruiting room, scoreboards, etc?
“I would say it was the star players the program was producing,” Newton said. “That weighs a lot, a lot more than those buildings and things they are putting up (on college campuses). It is the guys that have come before you and the people and coaches that you are around at the university.
“People that we have dealt with in Lexington are top of the line people and great people. Being able to see guys have success in the past is a huge part of the recruiting process. It is a big part of why I went to the University of Kentucky. I’m not saying facilities are not important, but most everybody has really nice facilities. I just think it is more about the players and people.”
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips sold Newton and his family on the success quarterback Andre Woodson, who is now a student-assistant at UK, had at Kentucky.
“Coach Joker is a good seller. He definitely showed that to me and my father, and we bought. We are here. Having Andre back is awesome, too,” Newton said. “But people like Andre were a lot more important to me than any facilities.”
Phillips might want facility upgrades, but he says marquee players going back to Jared Lorenzen have helped him “sell” UK¿to recruits since he’s been working with the Wildcats.
“Rafael Little became the face of our program. Keenan Burton became the face of our program, Andre Woodson. Then comes Randall Cobb. He was the face of our program,” Phillips said. “We were able to go out and find five true wide receivers (this season), which was a need of ours, by selling Randall Cobb. We were able to get Randall Cobb and those other receivers we got in his class three years ago by selling Keenan Burton. By being able to sell the guys that we just talked about has given us a chance to get into some homes, because other players like other players. They like watching dynamic players.”
Phillips won’t apologize for the way recruiting is going because he likes the talent UK¿has received verbal commitments from so far.
“Of the 13 commitments (including one walk-on), we have 10 of them that we had in our camp. Randall Cobb was one of those guys that we had in our camp that we were able to identify. We were able to sit down and talk and discuss football with Randall Cobb to understand what this guy has what it takes to be a great player,” Phillips said.
“I'm excited about this recruiting class we put together, because our coaching staff has been in front of those guys, have had a chance to work with those guys for a couple hours. It's an exciting time to be a Wildcat.”