LEXINGTON, Ky. — Mark Stoops will have five signing classes to his name come Feb. 1, and his projected 2017 class could represent one of the biggest recruiting turnarounds in the SEC over the last 10 years.
Kentucky’s 2017 class is ranked 23rd nationally and eighth in the SEC, according to 247Sports. National Signing Day looms a week from Wednesday and the class could be Stoops’ best of his Kentucky tenure or at least come close to topping his 2014 class.
Whatever happens on National Signing Day, Stoops’ first five signing classes will represent a significant turnaround at Kentucky compared to the five classes prior to his hiring.
SEC Country took a look at the last 10 signing classes, including the current 2017 class, of all 14 SEC schools. All 10 of Texas A&M and Missouri’s classes were taken into account despite the first five of those coming as members of the Big 12. With Stoops’ fifth class set to sign, the objective was to compare the improvement or regression of all SEC schools from 2008-12 (the first five years before Stoops arrived) to 2013-17 (Stoops’ five recruiting classes).
The five classes in each time span were averaged using 247Sports’ composite rankings. The site uses a Gausian distribution formula: “You can think of a team’s point score as being the sum of ratings of all the team’s commits where the best recruit is worth 100 percent of his rating value, the second best recruit is worth nearly 100 percent of his rating value, down to the last recruit who is worth a small fraction of his rating value,” the site explains.
Kentucky’s average composite class score from 2008-12 was 176.954. The average of Stoops’ first five classes (2013-17) is 205.102 — an increase of 28.148.
That last five years of improvement compared to the previous five years was the third best in the SEC followed by a 39.058 improvement for Texas A&M and a 31.348 improvement by Ole Miss. The Aggies’ recruiting strides coincide with their hiring of Kevin Sumlin and move to the SEC. Hugh Freeze, hired a year before Stoops, led Ole Miss to its recruiting resurgence.
Florida, South Carolina and Missouri are the only schools whose 2008-12 recruiting classes were better than their 2013-17 ones.
Kentucky is spending more on football recruiting than ever before. That, coupled with the strides Stoops and his staff have made, has led the Wildcats to a significant recruiting turnaround.
All rankings come from the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.