Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow discuss early football signees


Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops waves to Kentucky fans during Cat Walk prior to the game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at Kroger Field, in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated MTSU 34-23. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

UK football head coach Mark Stoops and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow met with the media at Kroger Field Wednesday afternoon to discuss the team’s new signees from Wednesday’s early signing day.

The signee total is 20. Six of those signees are linebackers – the most at any position. Four are defensive backs, four are lineman with two on each side of the line, two are wide receivers, two are quarterbacks, one is a tight end and one is a running back. 

With senior linebackers Josh Allen and Jordan Jones departing, Stoops said that the outside linebacker position was the “biggest area of need” aside from defensive backs. 

“When you’re a 3-4, you need some linebackers,” Stoops said. “There’s definitely some versatile guys. Some of them, there’s the really — there’s a couple really big ones, big outside linebackers.” 

Marrow agreed with Stoops.

“Defense was a big emphasis in this class. This is a very athletic group and the best linebacker class we’ve signed since we’ve been here,” Marrow said. 

The running back signed is Travis Tisdale. A four-start recruit from Valdosta, Georgia, Tisdale was listed as the no. 18 running back by ESPN. Stoops said that by signing only one running back, there was “without a doubt” that he had faith in current running backs A.J. Rose, Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke. 

“We felt very good with Chris and Kavosiey and A.J. going into the year. They’ve got speed,” Stoops said.

UK signed the most recruits from the state of Kentucky and Georgia. Four of the Kentucky recruits came from Louisville and linebackers Marquez Bembry and Tra Wilkins each came from Stone Mountain, Georgia. Stoops discussed the process of recruiting Kentucky players.

“I think there’s always good quality in this state. Sometimes there’s not always the quantity,” Stoops said. “Coach Marrow went in there and had a strong impact and built some strong relationships with these kids.”

Marrow added that the Cats’ success over SEC teams this season played a role in recruiting.

“When we beat Florida and Mississippi State, that really changed the game,” Marrow said. “When you have success, you’re not looked at as a joke when you go into homes to recruit big name kids from South.

The next National Signing Day will be on February 6th, 2019.