Stoops, UK Staff Find Right Balance of Players on National Signing Day

Stoops, UK Staff Find Right Balance of Players on National Signing Day

by Tim Letcher

The landscape of college football recruiting has changed dramatically over the past few years. The transfer portal has made the job of recruiting immensely more difficult for college coaches, who must not only recruit high school talent, but also find the right mix of players from the transfer portal to fill immediate needs.

Kentucky has done a nice job of using the transfer portal to its benefit over the past few years. Players like Will Levis, Ray Davis and others have been key cogs in the UK attack.

On Wednesday, National Signing Day, UK head coach Mark Stoops announced his 2024 class, which included a nice mix of players from both high school and the transfer portal. Stoops was pleased with his class, which will likely be ranked in the Top 25 nationally.

“Really excited to talk about this class. As you know, this is a great deal of work that goes into this for sometimes, weeks, months (or) years for some of these guys,” Stoops said. “It’s the culmination of quite a bit of work. We’ve put together a very good class. Very balanced. I feel like there’s very good balance within the high school and the portal.”

With Devin Leary departing, the Cats needed a quarterback both for the immediate timeframe and for the future. Stoops feels like the Cats landed both with incoming freshman Cutter Boley and Georgia transfer Brock Vandagriff.

“Cutter was a guy that we had targeted and recruited for years,” Stoops said. “What a great year he had. We are proud to have Cutter be our high school quarterback and a guy that will come in and compete. He has a contagious personality, very likeable.”

Stoops knows how important Vandagriff can be for UK’s immediate needs.

“Out of the portal, getting Brock Vandagriff out of Georgia. Very important for us, very important piece,” Stoops said. “The thing you look at with Brock is, you look at his film, you know he’ll be able to come in and work with us. Very excited about him.”

Stoops was also excited about Ja’Mori Maclin and Raymond Cottrell, a pair of transfer wide receivers.

“Very talented player. Love his work ethic, love his attitude,” Stoops said of Maclin. “I think he’s going to be a big addition to our wide receiver room. Along with Raymond Cottrell from Texas A&M, a big, strong receiver who can really run.”

Kentucky hit the jackpot with running backs both from the high school ranks and the transfer portal.

“Running backs, we needed some depth there. Got two high school guys in Tovani (Mizell) and Jason (Patterson),” Stoops said. “Then, one out of the portal. The big get for us out of the portal is (Ohio State transfer) Chip (Trayabum), extremely mature, extremely hard-working, great fit for us and our culture. Very excited about him.”

On the other side of the ball, UK needed some help at linebacker and the Cats landed a big catch in Georgia transfer Jamon Dumas-Johnson, who goes by the nickname Pop.

“Defensively, we went pretty heavy with the linebacking unit,” Stoops said. “It’s good balance all the way around. A big get for us, that will get a lot of attention, is, any time you get a transfer like that who’s a Butkus finalist and a first-team All-American in Pop Johnson from Georgia. Brings an awful lot to our football team. Unbelievable experience and has that desire to bring that winning culture with him.”

The UK staff is very high on all of their signees, both from the high school ranks and the transfer portal. Stoops and his staff hope they have the right mix moving forward.

Related Stories

View all