Could Be Stoops’ Best
In order to compete in the SEC it takes a lot of things. One of the biggest is quality players. As Mark Stoops starts his ninth year at Kentucky the recruits heading to Lexington gets better by the year. In that time they’ve gone from fighting over one and two star players to winning battles with the nation’s top programs. As it stands right now this year’s class might be the best. Let’s take a look at Kentucky’s Impressive 2022 Recruiting Class. In addition, we’ll look at one that got away and how a coaching loss could affect things.
In Some Rarefied Air
Currently Kentucky’s 2022 class sits 9th in the nation by Rivals and 11th by 247 Sports. Both ratings services have the Cats fourth in the SEC currently. Of the 1o commitments so far six players rank as four star prospects. UK’s high water mark is 17th with the Class of 2014 and they’ve got a great shot at either beating or equaling that. With a look at where the Cats stand right now let’s dive into the recruits with the highest ranked player on the board.
The (Literal) Big Man On Campus
One thing that’s been synonymous over the last few years with the Kentucky program is the “Big Blue Wall.” The big guys up front are the heart and soul of the squad. Landon Young was just taken by New Orleans in the recent NFL Draft. In addition Drake Jackson signed with Detroit joining former Cat Logan Stenberg. The newest member of the Wall is offensive tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin. The six foot eight, 305 pound tackle chose Kentucky on April 17th.
He picked the Cats over three fourths of last year’s college football playoff teams, Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. Playing at Charlestown High School Goodwin ranks as the 54th best player in America by both Rivals and 247 Sports. Furthermore he’s the second best player in the Hoosier State and seventh best offensive tackle in the nation. With Darrian Kinnard off to the 2022 NFL Draft Goodwin is a potential day one starter.
Continuing our look at Kentucky’s Impressive 2022 Recruiting Class we turn to a pair of talented twins from the home of a rival.
Big Pick Ups From The Volunteer State
Twins Destin and Keaten Wade committed to Kentucky over Louisville, Tennessee and Virginia. Keaten Wade is a six foot four outside linebacker playing at Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tennessee. He ranks as the 156th best player in the country by Rivals and 188th by 247 Sports. In addition he’s the fourth best player in the Volunteer State.
— Destin Wade (@Destinwade1) April 17, 2021
His brother Destin Wade is a four star athlete who comes in as the 350th best prospect by 247 Sports and 13th best in the state. As a junior the six foot three played quarterback leading Summit to the Division 1 Class 5A State Championship. He did a little of everything gaining 1,509 yards on the ground. In addition he threw for 1,390 yards and 37 touchdowns combined. It was a huge recruiting win for Steve Clinkscale, who held off Tennessee’s new coach Josh Heupel. We’ll have more on Clinkscale in a bit.
Keeping Them In State
Led by recruiting ace Vince Marrow Kentucky’s done a masterful job keeping the best players at home. For the most part it’s no different with this class. In fact 30 percent of the class is from the Bluegrass State. The group is headed by Johnson Central offensive tackle Grant Bingham. The six foot six lineman chose the Cats over Arkansas, Cincinnati, Miami and Notre Dame. Between Bingham and Goodwin the “Big Blue Wall” is in good hands.
Kentucky has secured the commitments of Grant Bingham and Kiyaunta Goodwin in the Class of 2022. Stoops is stacking OL talent at UK at an unprecedented level.
— Freddie Maggard (@FredMaggard606) April 17, 2021
Even ore Top Players
Stoops rounds out the 2022 class so far with two more four star players, Michigan athlete Jeremiah Caldwell and Ohio defensive back Alex Afari. Georgia defensive back Andre Stewart and Ohio tight end Josh Kattus are the other two recruits in a stellar class. Once again the Ohio to Kentucky pipeline set by Marrow pays more dividends.
As mentioned earlier Kentucky’s done a remarkable job keeping in-state players home. However there is one notable exception in the 2022 class.
The One Who Got Away
These days it’s rare when a top Kentucky player leaves the state. Unfortunately for the BBN that’s exactly what happened with not only the best player in the state but one of the top players in the nation. Gavin Wimsatt, a dual threat quarterback out of Owensboro, chose Rutgers over Kentucky, Michigan, Notre Dame and others. The hope was the 60th best player in the nation’s recruitment would drag on giving him time to see what new offensive coordinator Liam Coen’s offense could do. It wasn’t to be but of course nothing’s ever for sure in the recruiting game.
One more thing that must be discussed with Kentucky’s Impressive 2022 Recruiting Class is the loss of a top assistant and recruiter.
Big Shoes To Fill
The Ohio to Kentucky recruiting pipeline has been huge for the Cats since Stoops and Marrow came to Lexington. However in recent years that’s moved north into Michigan. With players like Marquan McCall and Justin Rogers UK’s been winning major battles against Michigan and Michigan State. A big reason for that is Clinkscale, the now former defensive backs coach .After two years of job offers from both the Spartans and Wolverines he accepted a position as Michigan’s passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach.
Clinkscale was the lead recruiter for Caldwell and the Wade twins and his loss means the Cats are basically starting over in Michigan and Tennessee. One positive note for Kentucky is the Wade twins’ mother says they are solidly with the Cats.
Committed to a program not a person. https://t.co/PutYVCu1q0
— Valerie Wade (@ValerieLWade) May 12, 2021
Even so it’s something True Blue Fans are watching from now until they players actually hit campus. In fact Michigan’s already offered Stewart a scholarship.
With the way Stoops and his staff develop players, 13 taken in the last three NFL Drafts, recruits take notice and as a result Lexington’s a football destination. There are always bumps in the road but this class has the makings of an all-timer at Kentucky. The school’s gone to five straight bowls, winning three. As the quality of player continues to improve so does the record on the field.
Thanks for looking at Kentucky’s Impressive 2022 Recruiting Class with us here at Last Word On College Football. June is upon us and that means we start preparing you for the upcoming season with previews, predictions and more.