Mark Stoops discusses Kentucky’s early signing class


Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops watches his team from the sideline during the Kentucky vs. New Mexico State football game on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 56-16. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke

One day removed from college football’s early signing day, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops spoke about the Wildcats’ 2022 class.

Kentucky recorded 22 signees with 10 early enrollees, in what was undoubtedly one of, if not the, best signing classes in UK program history.

One of the biggest names signed, though it came a day late officially, was five-star offensive tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin. Goodwin initially declared on early signing day that he did not wish to sign but rather to wait until February. This would not be the case with Kentucky recruiter and associate head coach Vince Marrow on the assignment and on Dec. 16, Goodwin signed to the Wildcats.

“I would like to formally welcome Kiyaunta Goodwin to the class,” Stoops said. “I want to welcome him to the program, though it feels like he’s already been part of it. We’ve known him for a long time and built strong relationships with him and the people close to him. He’s a terrific young man and an unbelievable football player.”

Goodwin had been recruited by the Wildcats since his eighth grade season, a rare luxury awarded to very specific recruits. Goodwin finished his high school career as the 13th ranked recruit nationally by 24/7 sports, justifying the move.

Though Goodwin officially comes from Indiana, Stoops said he considers him a Kentucky boy, having recruited him out of Louisville.

 Though it’s four on official documents, Stoops spoke highly of who he saw as his five Kentucky recruits, with the Wildcats also securing the official number one recruit in Kentucky: Dane Key.

“[Key] is a terrific football player,” Stoops said. “He’s very mature, he’s intelligent, and he works extremely hard. He could [make an immediate impact on the field].”

Another recruit heavily discussed was Kentucky’s lone Alabama signee, Kobi Albert. Albert’s official position is listed as ‘athlete’ while the versatile young star has potential to play on either side of the football.

“I think there could be [a battle between offensive and defensive coaches to see who gets Kobi Albert],” Stoops joked. “He is a terrific player. He could play defensive back or wide receiver for us. He might have to play both early on, to be honest, just to see what the natural fit is and where he could immediately help us. I don’t want to compare him to Lynn Bowden, but he’s next level. He’s that kind of athlete.”

Coach Stoops also emphasised the locations scouted by Kentucky recruiters. Though they had a few standalones from states like Delaware, Michigan, and Alabama, the bulk of Kentucky’s signees came from four states: Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia.

“We want to lock down our state [and surrounding area],” Stoops said. “Our bread and butter is Kentucky and Ohio and we branch out from there.”

Though the entire ongoing recruiting season has been hectic for Stoops, a point he emphasized several times, he also seemed energized discussing the subject.

“Recruiting is just another kind of competition,” Stoops said. “We’re constantly battling and fighting. It is fun and it’s good [for the program].”