Kentucky football fans felt the sting Monday of losing a hard-fought recruiting battle.
What’s noteworthy about that, one might ask?
Well, nothing, on the surface. Recruiting of the oblong ball variety has never been overly kind to the Wildcats.
But something was different about this one. When highly-regarded Ohio offensive lineman Brady Taylor picked Virginia Tech over Kentucky, it produced an interesting sensation across the Big Blue Nation:
Wait... What? No "#Yahtzee!" today?
Not that Kentucky lost a recruiting battle to Virginia Tech. After all, Frank Beamer’s program has been one of the nation’s finest for almost a quarter of a century. The Hokies have been beating out far tougher competition for top prospects long before anyone had a cell phone that would fit in a jean pocket or Jack Dorsey ever brainstormed about an app that would prompt us to stare at that cell phone awaiting “tweets” all day.
It’s not really about the good folks at Virginia Tech. That UK was beaten for a recruit by anybody feels a little strange these days.
And that’s a good thing.
Perhaps nothing illustrates more how far Kentucky has come in the college football recruiting world under Mark Stoops’ direction than this peculiar feeling. Fans have grown accustomed to four-star prospects giving the Cats the nod of late, and even saw the Wildcats climb into the top five of the national team recruiting rankings earlier this summer. I never imagined the day would come when I would see that, even under the most optimistic circumstances.
With no offense meant to these fine institutions, it’s a far cry from checking the web daily to see if UK had beaten out Miami of Ohio or Middle Tennessee State for a player.
When Stoops took the job at Kentucky, one of the first things he told the BBN was that his new staff would not back down against anyone – be it Alabama or Ohio State or USC – when it came to recruiting. So far, he has delivered on that promise. The Cats have beaten elite national programs for players on numerous occasions since Stoops came to town, and the future of UK football looks brighter than ever.
On Monday, they did not. It'll be OK.
The Cats still have some work to do regarding the offensive line in the Class of 2014 -- a major priority from this point forward -- but fans now have something they haven't had for a while:
Or perhaps even more than that now. They have expectations. Most believe it won’t be too long until the next star-studded prospect picks UK over Big Name U.
And they won't be surprised.