Kentucky Football: Mark Stoops and the Wildcats Have to Start Somewhere

Vinny Hardy@ IFebruary 6, 2013

Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops spoke to reporters after being introduced as the new football coach at the University of Kentucky in the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stoops and his staff have been pretty impressive so far this offseason. He has made Kentucky football recruiting history without even coaching a down.

The Louisville Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker was all over it on the eve of national signing day. This was before Jason Hatcher, a 4-star defensive end from Louisville, had decided to become a Wildcat.

His commitment helped propel UK into never-before-seen territory, a recruiting class that comes in ranked under 30.

Kentucky football has had lots of ups and downs. Oftentimes, the downs outweighed the ups.

This signing class can be added to the positive side of Kentucky fans' memory banks. It is another occurrence that we always wanted, hoped and probably doubted deep down that we would ever see.

Mark Stoops' historic class ranks right up there with the greatest memories from an excitement and importance standpoint.

It's on par with the 1999 Outback Bowl. Remember how exciting it was turning on the television and watching the Cats play Penn State on New Year's Day? The excitement level went through the roof when UK jumped out to a 14-3 first-quarter lead on the Nittany Lions.

This ranks right up there with the Cats breaking through and stopping the dreaded losing streak to Tennessee. Everyone remembers the joy and excitement after that game concluded.

The buzz and optimism surrounding this recruiting class is very similar. Season tickets are being bought, and the Blue-White spring game is highly anticipated.

Optimistic feelings aren't limited to the fanbase, either. Let the tweets speak for themselves.

Crazy stuff going on right now, most pumped I've ever seen the #BBN

— Zach West (@ztfwest75) February 5, 2013

These tweets are from quarterback Patrick Towles and guard Zach West. Both guys are highly touted sophomores from the state of Kentucky who are obviously excited about what's going on around them.

The young guys aren't the only ones who feel this way. Check out what former UK signal-caller (and Cumberland Redskin great) Freddie Maggard had to say.

@bradsturgill1 been waiting my whole life to be this fired up about UK football. Kind of my only hobby.

— Freddie Maggard (@FMaggard) February 5, 2013

@bradsturgill1 @chucksturgill3 all the has-beens are fired up. May even motivate a few of us to get back in shape.

— Freddie Maggard (@FMaggard) February 5, 2013

Sounds like Freddie is ready to start loosening up his arm!

Coach Stoops even got in on the act.

Let's go BBN, keep it rolling !!! #WeAreUK

— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) February 5, 2013

Kirk Herbstreit gave Big Blue some love too.

Congrats to Mark Stoops and UK....Chance to finish in the top 25 in his first recruiting class as a head coach!!!

— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) February 6, 2013

As exciting as everything is, it still may not translate to wins on the field immediately. As good as this class is, it still ranks near the bottom of the land's best conference.

The Cats were looking up at everyone in the SEC East last year. Alabama also makes an appearance on the schedule as they will visit Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 12.

However, this is a start, a very good start. If these incoming freshmen come in, stay focused and develop, then things will definitely start looking up for UK in the near future.

If Stoops and his staff coach the guys up anywhere near as well as they have recruited so far, things will go well.

He's laying a nice foundation. Kentucky football has made a splash nationally in recruiting.

You have to like the way things have started.