Once signatures for Jager Burton and Dekel Crowdus came through the fax machine at the Kentucky football offices this afternoon, the general assumption was that UK’s early signing period festivities were over, at least among high school recruits.
During his signing day press conference, though, head coach Mark Stoops noted while the first run of signatures are in, the program is still hoping to add “a few more” players in the coming days.
“We signed 18 new players, but we expect to sign a few more in the next couple days to add to this class,” Stoops said. “We also want to keep a few spots open for transfers, as well.”
Of the options on the table, junior college linebacker Joko Willis is currently committed to Kentucky, but several reports – notably from Cats Illustrated’s Justin Rowland – have indicated that the three-star prospect is no longer expected to end up at UK. Outside of Willis, there is not much buzz on new potential additions, at least among high school and JUCO prospects.
So who are the surprises going to be? Where is the UK coaching staff looking?
“We’ll see, some needs. We’re going to concentrate on some needs,” Stoops added. “I purposely left some spots open for some transfers. With the (immediate transfer) rules passing and the flexibility with the transfers, you have to leave open a few spots there.”
Signing 23 players in the class of 2020, along with several other transfer additions to factor in, Stoops says he’s walking a thin line on roster space, which is why they’re not close to the 25-player maximum teams are allowed to sign each year.
“A year ago, we had such a good recruiting class and I was really crunched for numbers, right down to the wire. That’s pretty stressful on a head coach,” he said. “That’s why you see, I’m just throwing out a number, but I’d guess nine out of ten programs in the country are under the 85 limit. It’s hard to hit that number perfectly having 25 initials. We’re only allowed 25 initials no matter what, so some years we have more room than others.
“Last year was a small class, but we signed a lot of guys, so you count on a little attrition to hit your 85. It worked out, but I don’t want to live in that world every year, being that tight.”
The dust may have settled on signing day, but Stoops and the Kentucky coaching staff are still working the phones and racking up Zoom hours to add a few more talented pieces in the coming days.