BOZICH | Clock officially ticking on Kentucky's 2014 football re - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Clock officially ticking on Kentucky's 2014 football recruiting class

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Kentucky's 2014 football recruiting class was supposed to put the program on the map. Kentucky's 2014 football recruiting class was supposed to put the program on the map.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – I’m not certain which college football recruiting service you prefer or purchase. I have numbers and results from the four with the most juice.

As we inch into the 2016 season, it’s time to remember what the wise guys were writing and howling about Kentucky’s 2014 class, the guys who are juniors and redshirt sophomores on Mark Stoops’ fourth University of Kentucky team.

They are the players who were expected to turn a four- or five-win program into a seven- or eight-win program. They are the guys who started stirring the expectations that surrounded UK and Stoops a year ago.

They are the guys, players like quarterback Drew Barker, defensive lineman Matt Elam and defensive end Denzil Ware, that Stoops needs to play like four-star recruits this season.

They are also the guys who continue to depart the UK program. Darryl Long, a back-up tight end from Westerville, Ohio became the 10th guy from the 2014 class to leave Monday when Stoops announced Long’s decision to transfer.

According to my count, Long is the sixth former Ohio high school player recruited by UK assistant Vince Marrow to depart from that class.

A knock at Marrow?

Not at all. Guys leave schools everywhere. Ask Georgia, Texas A&M, Miami, TCU, Texas. I think even Nick Saban fusses about the occasional transfer.

A closer look at the numbers shows that most of the 10 players from the 2014 class who have left Kentucky have landed at places like Akron (lineman Josh Krok), Miami of Ohio (lineman Jarrett LaRubbio), Lackawanna College (receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass), Texas State (receiver T.V. Williams) and Bowling Green (linebacker Dorian Hendrix).

Translation: They weren’t good enough, likely overhyped by the recruiting services.

Here are the numbers for 2014 from Rivals, ESPN, Scout and 247Sports on Kentucky’s class, numbers that made the Wildcats a consensus Top 25 selection.

Rivals ranked Kentucky 18th in the nation, ahead of Ole Miss (19), Michigan State (22), Michigan (31), Missouri (35) and Louisville (36).

Rivals credited Kentucky with 10 four-star prospects – defensive back Kendall Randolph; receiver Blake Bone; defensive tackle Cory Johnson; halfback Boom Williams; defensive back Darius West; defensive back Mike Edwards; Barker; running back Mikel Horton; offensive lineman Nick Richardson and receiver Dorian Baker.

Of those 10 players, one (Johnson) has completed his eligibility. Four – Williams, Edwards, Barker and Baker – are expected to start. Randolph and West are second teamers with Horton and Bone listed third string. Richardson is no longer with the program.

ESPN placed the Kentucky class at 20 – directly ahead of Arizona State, Baylor, Arizona, Penn State and Virginia.

Scout ranked Kentucky 21. Scout credited the Wildcats with 29 commitments, giving Elam, West, Edwards, Ware, Barker and Snodgrass four stars.

247Sports ranked Kentucky 22nd. That service credited UK with 32 commitments, including six four-star recruits – Barker, Elam, West, Ware, Snodgrass and Williams.

To date, Williams has been the most productive player, running for 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns. Legit? You bet, when he can stay healthy.

Edwards, Baker, Ware and receiver Garrett Johnson have also been solid.

After serving a redshirt season in 2014, Edwards averaged six tackles per game over the Wildcats’ final half dozen games. Baker has started 15 games in two seasons. Although he has scored four touchdowns, he must improve his yards per catch average of 11.1.

Johnson, only a three-star recruit, led Kentucky with 694 receiving yards last season. He’s made at least one catch in 18 straight games.

Ware started 11 games in 2015, contributing five or more tackles against Louisiana-Lafayette, Missouri and Mississippi State.

Barker and Elam will move into the spotlight this season. Two others recruits from the 2014 class – Adrian Middleton and Tymere Dubose – will be asked to play at defensive tackle for Reggie Meant, who has left the team for personal reasons. Meant’s return is uncertain.

The 2014 class has not been terrible, but it also has not been one of the top 25 recruiting classes in the country. It certainly needs to play better for Kentucky to start making a move in the East Division of the Southeastern Conference.

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