LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky’s 2014 recruiting class was the best in program history, but the class shapes up differently three seasons later.
While many of this season’s key players like Boom Williams, Garrett Johnson and Denzil Ware were a part of the class, Mikel Horton’s transfer on Tuesday leaves only 19 of the 32-member class intact.
- Boom Williams: The junior running back is Kentucky’s most explosive playmaker. Williams led the team in rushing during his first two seasons. He’s doing the same this year. The Georgia native is third in college football with 8 yards per carry of rushers with at least 50 attempts.
- Garrett Johnson: He’s been a playmaker in the passing game since arriving at Kentucky. Johnson led the team with 694 receiving yards last season. He leads the team in receptions and is second in yards this year. He wasn’t among the prized recruits of this class but has exceeded expectations.
- Denzil Ware: He’s coming off a performance that earned him SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week, so it’s fair to say Ware’s been a hit. He’s a hybrid linebacker/defensive end who has had no trouble finding his way into the backfield. Ware has 3 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss this season.
- Mike Edwards: The sophomore safety started the last five games in 2015, and he’s been a sure starter in 2016. The Cincinnati native, rated as high as a 4-star prospect by Rivals, is second on the team with 31 tackles.
- Dorian Baker: He led the team in catches and touchdowns last season. The dynamic wide receiver has been hampered by a hamstring injury this season, playing in one game without a catch. Baker will be a key part of the passing game when healthy.
- Matt Elam: He’s been a one-dimensional player for the Wildcats, but Elam has locked down a starting job in the middle of the defensive line. Elam is effective against big offensive sets, but his playing time is limited against spread offenses.
- Adrian Middleton: He was redshirted his first year and only played in four games last year. Middleton has been a key part of the defensive line rotation in 2016. Only a sophomore, the former 3-star prospect has time to get better.
- Jervontius Stallings: He’s listed as second team on the depth chart at center and right guard. Stallings gradually has gotten more playing time this season. The sophomore might have a starting job locked down beginning next season.
- C.J. Johnson: Ranked as high as a 4-star prospect by Rivals, Johnson was productive last season for the Wildcats with 67 tackles and two sacks. The defensive tackle came to Kentucky as a junior college prospect and graduated at the end of last season.
- A.J. Stamps: Like Johnson, Stamps was a junior college transfer and graduated in 2015. He made the most of his eligibility at Kentucky. Stamps had 5 interceptions and more than 100 tackles in two seasons with the Wildcats.
- Ryan Flannigan: The junior college transfer had 53 tackles in nine games last season. Flannigan, like the previous three, graduated after the 2015 season.
- Kendall Randolph: The junior cornerback was a consensus top-10 prospect in Kentucky’s 2014 class, but he’s yet to translate that hype into production. Randolph has played in 25 games during his first three seasons and does his job, but he’s never secured a big role in the defense.
- Blake Bone: Rivals had him as a 4-star receiving prospect, but Bone has regressed at Kentucky. The junior had 20 catches and a touchdown in 2015. Though he dealt with an injury early in the season, he’s been held without a catch this year.
- Thaddeus Snodgrass: Ranked a 4-star prospect by ESPN and 247Sports, the wide receiver announced his transfer from the program last October.
- Mikel Horton: He had fallen to fourth or worse on the RB depth chart this season, surely the main reason behind his transfer. Horton was a former 4-star prospect by Rivals.
- Nick Richardson: The former Rivals 4-star offensive lineman transferred from Kentucky in August 2015.
- Lloyd Tubman: The former 3-star defensive end from Louisville plays for Austin Peay and will face Kentucky later this season. He transferred in July 2015.
- Josh Krok: A consensus 3-star offensive lineman prospect, Krok transferred from Kentucky in June 2015. He plays for Akron.
- Darryl Long: The reserve tight end, a former 3-star prospect, transferred to Akron during fall camp.
- Jarrett LaRubbio: He transferred to Miami University in April. LaRubbio was a consensus 3-star offensive lineman prospect.
- T.V. Williams: The wide receiver transferred in April and plays for Texas State. Williams was a 3-star prospect.
- Dorian Hendrix: The former 3-star prospect is playing linebacker at Bowling Green State after transferring from Kentucky in August 2015.
- Jared Tucker: He transferred to Eastern Kentucky during fall camp. Tucker is a former 3-star prospect.
Still don’t know
- Drew Barker: The sophomore quarterback claimed the starting job at the end of last year. He made 3 starts this season before injuring his back on the first series against New Mexico State. Barker was great for one half against Southern Miss but largely struggled after that. There’s no timetable for his return. There also is no guarantee he’ll take the job back from Stephen Johnson when he’s healthy.
- Darius West: The Lima, Ohio, native was among the top recruits in the class. West has been hampered by injuries since arriving. The safety played in 10 games last season but is out for the 2016 season with a patella injury in his left knee suffered during fall camp.
- Kobie Walker: The consensus former 3-star linebacker was suspended against Florida. He’s played in the other three games and has 10 tackles. There’s time for the sophomore to become a bigger factor on defense.
- Nico Firios: He suffered a season-ending injury last season but has played in every game this year on special teams. Firios doesn’t have a role on defense, but he’s a sophomore.
- Tymere Dubose: The former 3-star recruit is in the defensive line rotation but hasn’t received substantial playing time. Dubose, a sophomore, will have plenty of opportunities moving forward.
- David Baumer: He came to Kentucky as a preferred walk-on. Baumer, a sophomore, hasn’t played this season.
- Logan Blue: Blue hasn’t played, but it’s not fair to label him a miss given that he wasn’t heavily recruited.
- David Bouvier: Like Baumer and Blue, Bouvier, a Lexington Catholic graduate, hasn’t played this season. Like the previous two, he wasn’t a big recruit.
- Miles Butler: Rounding out the final quad of B’s, Butler has the same story — hasn’t played and wasn’t widely recruited.
Of the class of 32, three graduated. Of the 29 who still would have eligibility at Kentucky, 19 remain on the roster. Three former 4-star players transferred, and two more are on the misses list. But, despite the attrition, UK cashed in on almost a dozen key recruits.
The 2014 class once looked like a sure jump-start to the program. Though there have been several positives, Kentucky still is searching for its elusive bowl bid.