Print and Go Back On The Trail: Midlands Region [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Early Offer: Stoops confident about class

By Jeremy Crabtree

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Kentucky coach Mark Stoops admitted his first season didn’t go like he had planned, but those struggles haven’t hurt the Wildcats on the recruiting trail; Vanderbilt is in a tough recruiting situation if it moves too fast or too slow with its coaching search; and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney thought of a different way recruiting classes should be evaluated.

UK coach excited about future
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops isn’t one to dwell on the negative. Yes, his first season didn’t go quite as he expected as the Wildcats finished 2-10, but he is fired up about his 2014 recruiting class that is ranked No. 19 in the country. Stoops said he doesn’t feel like recruits viewed the season as a negative. “I haven’t felt uncomfortable banging on anybody’s door,” Stoops said. “We have gotten a great reception across the country. I don’t feel out of place whatsoever having Kentucky walk in and shake the hand of the best prospects around, go to work and try to get them to come to our school. We’re not going to get them all, but the response has been tremendous.”

Vandy in a tough spot
Day 2 of the American Football Coaches Association conference in Indianapolis, Ind., brought more discussion about James Franklin’s departure to Penn State and what remains in the wake at Vanderbilt. Before Franklin left, the Commodores had assembled a class that climbed as high as No. 14 in the ESPN class rankings, but one SEC assistant coach said what’s left is “nothing but scorched earth.” Vandy’s class is hemorrhaging commitments after the departure, including the loss of key quarterback recruit Kyle Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine Prep). Vandy is in a difficult situation. It needs to make sure it makes the right hire, but also move quick enough that it doesn’t get left behind when the recruiting dead period ends Wednesday. When face-to-face contact can begin again, you can bet there will be more defections if the Commodores don’t have a coach.

Wins matter, stars don’t
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s departing senior class was ranked as the 19th best recruiting class in 2009, and it featured record-breaking quarterback Tajh Boyd. But Swinney offered up a different way to evaluate what became of that top-20 class. “I think recruiting rankings should be unveiled at the team banquets in February after that class’ senior season,” Swinney said. “The wins and losses should be the real measure of how good the class was, not how many five- and four-star [prospects] you landed.”