Well, another day, another outstanding recruit for Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips. Sam Simpson, the *** center from Henry Clay HS in Lexington, has apparently just now committed to Kentucky as of the time I began writing this column (2:13 PM). For those of you who look at stars and nothing else when judging the talent of recruits, keep in mind that Simpson is ranked at #9 among all centers in his class by Rivals, despite the *** rating.
This is a huge pickup for Kentucky, just like most of the pickups the Cats have received this summer. Kentucky is beating out good programs for these kids. In the case of Simpson, the top contender to foil the plans of Brooks and Phillips was Virginia, a middle of the road program in the ACC, but one that has experienced more consistent success than Kentucky (although not recently). Other schools on Simpson’s list included Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, NC State, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. There apparently is a pretty strong UVA contingent in Kentucky, but it wasn’t enough to sway Simpson.
Do you want to know another reason why this is such a good get for UK? Did you see Louisville on his list? Kentucky is starting to win back the momentum with the in-state recruits. Louisville started their run with homegrown kids, then they branched out with a more national recruiting philosophy. Kentucky puts out some good HS players every year, but it is not Florida, Georgia, Ohio or Texas (home of future Wildcat Ryan Mossakowski). It is important that the schools in the home state locks up as many of these kids as possible, and this is exactly what Brooks and Phillips are doing.
I feel that the reason why Kentucky is getting so many good players as of late is the continuity with the staff. I love Rich Brooks, and if you don’t, then you’re no friend of mine. But he is getting older, and instead of trying to make the big hire (like everybody wanted after Guy “Bear” Morriss went to Baylor), the staff is keeping it in the family by naming Phillips as Brooks’ successor. I love this because it assures potential recruits that the guy who is primarily responsible for recruiting them is going to stick around. I already know that he’s got a great mind for coaching, based on the quality of the Kentucky offense under Phillips compared to when Ron Hudson was offensive coordinator. Joker took the same group of guys who couldn’t get past the 50 against Indiana and turned them into a high-powered machine. Plus, Randy Sanders will probably be named OC once Brooks retires and Joker makes the leap. As we’ve watched Tennessee over the years, we’ve quickly found out that Sanders wasn’t the reason for the Volunteers’ offensive woes (if you have a QB named Clausen, you’re hip deep in poop). Still, I’m glad we have Sanders and UT doesn’t.
I realize that much of this doesn’t have anything to do with Sam Simpson, but that’s because I have a much harder time evaluating football recruits than basketball recruits. All football recruits look good, especially offensive linemen. I like Simpson because he passes the common sense test. A local kid that is top 10 in the country at his position has to be a slam dunk. How could it not be a good pickup?
Finally, since this is my first ever football post on this network, I think I should tell you guys that I spend a lot of time on message boards, and when people say they have sources, it’s always questionable, but I couldn’t help myself on this one. If it’s all a bunch of crap, I apologize in advance, but I heard from somebody with Indiana connections that says UK is going to land QB Morgan Newton. I won’t go into detail anymore because I question the validity of the source, but it got me too excited to ignore it. Feel free to leave comments if you want to know a little more.
I’m Seth Stogsdill, and I could get used to this football thing.