Kentucky class of 2022 will be driven by star power
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Kentucky class of 2022 will be driven by star power

Adam Luckettabout 1 month

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Article written by:Adam LuckettAdam Luckett

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(Photo courtesy of Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

We are just one week away from the early signing day for the class of 2022. At the University of Kentucky, the Wildcats have the chance to break the ceiling once again.

Currently, Mark Stoops and his coaching staff have 16 verbal commitments and the No. 15 recruiting class per the On3 consensus. Meanwhile, the Wildcats are in heavy pursuit for a pair of four-star prospects from Michigan and New Jersey.

Once the signatures are on paper, Stoops’ 10th recruiting class at Kentucky will be highlighted by a bunch of blue-chippers.

Kiyaunta Goodwin is the big fish

Landon Young became the first five-star player to join the Kentucky program under Mark Stoops in the class of 2016. The Wildcats have slowly seen their recruiting ceiling rise, but landing top-100 prospects consistently has been an issue.

Young was the first top-100 prospect to join the program. Since the Lexington (Ky.) Lafayette product signed in 2016, the Wildcats have yet to ink another five-star player. Top-100 recruits have occurred with some more frequency with Justin Rogers and Trevin Wallace joining the program in the last two recruiting classes.

Kiyaunta Goodwin is set to become one of the biggest recruiting wins of the Stoops era.

Kentucky must get to signing day, and it appears that Texas A&M is the top competition to this point, but recent events seem to give Kentucky the inside track. Stoops is scheduled to visit the blue-chip tackle on Friday for an in-home visit.

For just the second time in the Stoops era, Kentucky can land a five-star prospect. The Louisville native would be a seismic win for the program and give recruiting ace Vince Marrow his best-ever victory on the trail.

On signing day, Kentucky inking Goodwin will be a major story.

Out of state success

Kentucky and Ohio will always be the backbone of the recruiting operation under Stoops. In the class of 2022, the Wildcats have eight pledges from their home territory.

However, the success of the class is usually determined by how you spot recruit other areas. Kentucky knocked it out of the park in 2022.

Kentucky went into Metro Nashville and landed three four-star recruits with Barion Brown leading the way.

The Wildcats went into Pittsburgh to land blue-chip EDGE Tyreese Fearbry. Marrow recorded a rare Texas recruiting win by landing legacy recruit Nikolas Hall.

In total, Kentucky recorded blue-chip recruiting wins in six separate states. That is how a top-half SEC program should be operating on the recruiting trail.

Blue-Chip Ratio

The best teams are filled with the best players. To win football games and compete for championships, teams must win in recruiting. The blue-chip ratio tells us who are the true national championship contenders every season.

For the first time under Stoops, Kentucky’s ratio could be over 50 percent in a single recruiting class.

Currently, the Wildcats have one five-star and nine four-star prospects in the class for a blue-chip ratio of 63 percent. There is still a lot of work to be done, but this will likely go down as one of the best marks in the country.

When looking at the average star rating, the Wildcats rank 16th nationally among teams with at least double-digit commitments in 2021. Georgia and Missouri are the only SEC East teams higher than Kentucky. Meanwhile, Louisville is down in the 40s.

Kentucky wants to next the step as a program and that is competing yearly for the SEC East title and eventually making the trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. To accomplish the mission, the Wildcats must raise their recruiting ceiling by upping the blue-chip ratio.

That mission has been accomplished in this recruiting cycle.

Closing strong

New Jersey cornerback Davison Igbinosun and Michigan defensive tackle Deone Walker remain as primary targets for Kentucky. The Wildcats are attempting to close on both before signing day arrives.

Once the season was over, Igbinosun hosted Stoops and defensive coordinator Brad White for an in-home visit. The 6-foot-2 defensive back then made the trip to Lexington for an official visit over the weekend. The Wildcats are attempting to fend off Ole Miss who will reportedly host the blue-chipper in Oxford this weekend.

Walker has long been a target for Kentucky. At 6-foot-7, the coaching staff believes the four-star prospect could be a potential difference-maker at nose tackle. After recruiting him for Kentucky, Steve Clinkscale is his primary recruiter at Michigan but the Wildcats have been able to firmly stay in the race.

After hosting Jim Harbaugh for an in-home visit, Walker will be heading to Lexington this week for an official visit. Afterward, he will announce his decision on signing day. Kentucky appears to be in great shape.

The Wildcats figure to have a solid chance at landing a pair of top-300 defensive prospects on signing day. Things appear to be pointing up for the recruiting operation in Lexington.

Star power is driving the 2022 recruiting cycle for Kentucky and allowing the program to set higher expectations.

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2022-01-20