Two years ago, when Mark Stoops took Commonwealth Stadium for his first Blue-White Scrimmage as Kentucky’s new coach, the former Florida State defensive coordinator did so in front of 50,831 electric fans. There was hope that Kentucky’s struggling football program could be in for a change. The attendance for that 2013 spring game, announced by the school, had more than doubled a school record.
Kentucky seemed to be on the rise.
Coming off a 2-10, 0-8 SEC record in 2012, Stoops’ Wildcats duplicated those numbers in 2013 in his first season. In 2014, Kentucky won five games. Now the Wildcats are struggling again, having won just four games for the season with a five-game losing streak in tow. The Wildcats can still become bowl eligible, but they must win out, defeating Charlotte and Louisville.
Twice this week, Stoops has been asked about recruiting ramifications, and if a skid like this one hinders his success on that front. On Monday, he seemed to think the answer was no.
“I think there’s always a concern and certainly when you lose some games it doesn’t help you on that front. But no, I feel very good about it. I don’t know what I legally can say, but I feel very good about the nucleus of this group,” he said. “I think if you look across college football, there’s gonna be some and when some happens, let’s not panic. We’ll be OK. We are recruiting quite a few players right now. I feel very good about the nucleus of what we have recruited.”
For the class of 2016, the Wildcats have 22 commits, including two 4-star recruits per 247 Sports in offensive tackle Landon Young and offensive guard Drake Jackson — both out of the state of Kentucky.
But just eight days ago, Jermaine Eskridge — a 4-star wide receiver out of Florida and Kentucky’s only 2018 commit — backed out of his plans to suit up for the Wildcats. A day later, he released his new Top 10 list.
“I think it could affect somebody in different ways. You’re not sure,” Stoops said Wednesday during the SEC teleconference in regard to how displeased fans could affect recruits. “We continue to build our relationships and recruit players and I’m sure the players that are close, they hear the noise and all that. It could affect them either way, I’m sure.”