LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Mark Stoops didn’t have to go far to recruit Kentucky’s best-rated class in school history.
The second-year Wildcats coach on Wednesday announced a 28-member class including 11 prospects from Stoops’ native Ohio, along with the state of Kentucky’s top four players, one of the program’s best showings in-state.
The group includes 11 four-star prospects resulting in best-ever rankings by Rivals.com (14th) and Scout.com (20).
Leading the in-state contingent are quarterback Drew Barker of Burlington; defensive tackles Matt Elam of Elizabethtown and Adrian Middleton of Bowling Green; and defensive end Lloyd Tubman of Louisville, who announced his decision to play for the Wildcats on Wednesday.
Fifteen defensive players dominate this class, including six linemen and four linebackers, critical to improving a team coming off a 2-10 season and is winless in the Southeastern Conference since 2011.
Kentucky also added four wide receivers to what was a thin group last season, along with four offensive linemen. The class includes junior college players Ryan Flannigan, a linebacker, defensive tackle Cory Johnson and cornerback A.J. Stamps.
National rankings (Rivals 14; Scout 20).
Best in class: Drew Barker, QB, Conner, Ky. Ranked by Rivals.com as Kentucky’s top prospect, his early commitment to the Wildcats over South Carolina and others opened the eyes of top-flight recruits who began looking at Kentucky as a viable choice.
Best of the rest: Matt Elam, DE, Elizabethtown, Ky. Chose the Wildcats over Notre Dame and Alabama.
Late addition: Lloyd Tubman, DE. The Louisville native picked Kentucky on Wednesday over the hometown Cardinals and Nebraska.
One that got away: Derrick Kelly, OL. The Havana, Fla., product de-committed from the Wildcats to accept a late offer from national champion Florida State.
NOTE: Barker is among seven recruits enrolled this semester and was featured in a Kentucky football commercial that ran in parts of the state during halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl. Wildcats offensive coordinator Neal Brown said the new QB ”has those abilities that will give him the opportunity to come in and compete, and he’s going to be thrown into the fire this spring.