When Mark Stoops left his position as the defensive coordinator at Florida State for the head coaching job in Lexington in November of 2012, he brought with him a groundswell of excitement, and a renewed commitment to recruiting the top players he and his staff could get their hands on.
Stoops took over a program that won just two games under Joker Phillips in 2012, and while Stoops and his staff put together just two wins in year one, they've put together back-to-back five win seasons the past two years. While there is clearly still ground to make up, you don't go from 2-win seasons to back-to-back five win campaigns without some success on the recruiting trail...especially when we're talking about playing in the SEC.
In a recent piece on Kentucky.com, Stoops laid out their evaluation process that he and his staff stick to in recruiting, and - not surprisingly - it starts with watching guys on film, and more specifically, their highlight tape. But that is just scratching the surface.
“A lot of time you can rip through a bunch of highlight tape, but that’s just to get a fix on whether they have the athletic ability," Stoops explained. Once recruits pass the eye test, they move on to actual game film.
“Then you go watch the film to see if they play hard all the time and what their habits are like on the field and all that, and then in-person evaluations, there’s no replacing that.”
That's where recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow comes in, who then hits the road on the weekends watching prospects compete in person. After that, the focus turns to getting players on campus for a camp for further evaluation, where coaches can "put them in stressful situations and put them in our atmosphere," to see how they react and to also get a better gauge of their true size and character.
According to the article, all but one player that Kentucky signed in their 2016 class attended at least one camp. That tells you how serious they are about this evaluation process, and getting kids on campus to thoroughly vet them.
“You’ve got to get the kids on your campus, it’s a chance for them to show you what they can do and for you to show them what you can offer,” Dan Berezowitz, Kentucky's director of recruiting explained.