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  • VAUGHT: Stoops dominating in-state talent

    By LARRY VAUGHT

    Remember just a few years ago when it seemed like coach Mark Stoops was having a hard time getting the best in-state players to sign with the Wildcats.

    Has that ever changed?

    Last weekend two Louisville receivers — Izayah Cummings and Jordan Watkins — both gave their verbal commitments to UK despite having offers from Louisville and other schools.

    That’s seven players Kentucky has received commitments from the last two years compared with seven total it got from 2009-2018.

    Certainly a lot of that has to do with the decision Stoops made two year ago to put recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow in charge of in-state recruiting. Kentucky got Jared Casey, JJ Weaver, Shawnkel Knight-Goff and Tay Tay Crumes out of Louisville in its 2019 recruiting class. Now it has Cummings, Watkins and John Young committed in the 2020 class.

    As good as Marrow has been, there’s a good chance some of UK’s recruiting success has been due to Louisville’s misfortune — something the school hopes new coach Scott Satterfield can change. The Cards hit rock bottom last year going 2-10 and firing coach Bobby Petrino at midseason.

    So far Satterfield has got Ballard defensive back Josh Minkins, who is ranked 11th or 12th in Kentucky player ratings I have seen, and remains a longshot for Bowling Green safety Vito Tisdale, the state’s No. 3 player.

    Ask Stoops how hard it is to recruit elite talent, even in-state talent, when the program is not winning. Once UK started winning, Stoops and Marrow got more big-time talent to Kentucky.

    Stoops got his program better by finding lower-rated recruits and developing them into big-time players. Can Satterfield do the same? If he can, then UK might not dominate in-state recruiting the way it has the last two years. But if the Cards don’t show improvement this year with the way Marrow can recruit, the Cats are going to continue their recruiting domination over Louisville even in Jefferson County.
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