Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops took over the Wildcats program for the 2013 football season, following Joker Phillips’ final season record of 2-10.
Stoops would match that record in his first season, but since then, Big Blue Nation has enjoyed a steady climb to a solid football program. The Wildcats went 10-3 in 2021, their second 10-win season in the last four years. Prior to that, the last time Kentucky finished with 10 wins or more was 1977, and the program had never achieved double digit wins twice in a four-year period.
The reason for Kentucky’s steady rise? Recruiting is almost always the answer to that type of question. It is here as well.
From 2010-2012, the Wildcats finished no higher than 50th in the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings. Since then, Mark Stoops and his staff have put together classes ranked no worse than 35th, including two top 20 classes. Of note, one of those classes has yet to take the field. Kentucky finished 14th nationally in the class of 2022 Rivals.com team rankings - a sign of more good things to come.
Coach Stoops, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, has relied heavily on his roots to put together solid classes year after year.
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Stoops sent a message early in his tenure. With his first full recruiting class, the Wildcats signed eleven Ohio prospects in the class of 2014, including five four-star recruits. That class finished 17th in the Rivals rankings.
Two years later, Stoops signed 11 Ohioans again en route to a top 30 class.
Since then, Stoops has continued to mine Ohio, find other top Midwest prospects interested in the SEC (including Oak Park, MI five-star class of 2020 DL Justin Rogers), and improved the Wildcats in-state recruiting. Stoops has signed 16 prospects from Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana ranked four or five stars. On four occasions during Stoops’ tenure, he has signed the commonwealth’s top in-state prospect.
With a top 15 class coming in, excitement remains high among Big Blue Nation.
Rivals.com Team Football Recruiting Rankings:
(Mark Stoops took over for the 2013 football season)
2022 - 14th
2021 - 34th
2020 - 21st
2019 - 30th
2018 - 30th
2017 - 26th
2016 - 28th
2015 - 35th
2014 - 17th
2013 - 29th
2012 - 63rd
2011 - 61st
2010 - 50th