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Horton’s transfer another hit to once promising 2014 recruiting class

Mikel Horton (Vicky Graff Photo)

Mikel Horton (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky’s highly-touted 2014 football recruiting class has taken another hit — but what else is new.

Running back Mikel Horton of Ohio is no longer on the football team but will finish the semester at UK before transferring.

Horton probably expected to be playing a lot this year after rushing for 318 yards on 82 carries as a sophomore and 306 yards as a freshman. He had played in every game as a freshman and sophomore. His best game came as a sophomore when he rushed for 109 yards on 14 carries and had 19 yards receiving against Tennessee. He also ran 13 times for 44 yards and caught two passes for 46 yards against Louisville last year.

But Horton faded into nowhere because of the play of Boom Williams, which was expected, and Benny Snell, which was not expected. Williams has rushed for 464 yards this year while Snell has 209 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games. Horton has three carries for 12 yards and it was obvious he was not happy when he played late in the win over New Mexico State and wouldn’t accept any congratulations from teammates.

Kentucky’s 2014 signing class had 28 players, including three junior college players no longer on the team. However, eight players had already transferred before Horton. They were Josh Krok, T.V. Williams, Jared Tucker, Jarrett LaRubbio, Darryl Long, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Dorian Hendrix and Nick Richardson.

How good were they?

— Thaddeus Snodgrass was a four-star receiver that was ranked higher than any receiver UK had ever signed. He never caught a pass at UK. T.V. Williams was a small, but explosive receiver from Texas who picked UK over Nebraska, Houston, Oregon State and Iowa.

— Darryl Long was a three-star tight end who redshirted in 2014, played in 10 games last year and transferred before this season started without ever catching a pass. He was a three-star prospect and ranked as the 19th best tight end in the nation.

— Linebacker Dorian Hendrix was the first verbal commitment in the 2014 class and credited along with quarterback Drew Barker for pulling the class together. He was ranked as the nation’s 26th best inside linebacker.

— Offensive lineman Josh Krok was ranked among the nation’s top 40 tackles. Offensive lineman Nick Richardson was a four-star prospect ranked as the nation’s 217th best overall prospect by Rivals.com. Jarrett LaRubbio was ranked as the 27th best guard in the country by Rivals.com.

— Jared Tucker was a three-star defensive back who redshirted in 2014 and played in just three games in 2015 before transferring just before this season started.

Then there is Horton. He was a consensus four-star player who was considered the No. 3 overall prospect in Ohio and 12th best running back in the nation b Rivals.com.

So that’s nine players out of the 2014 recruiting class who have transferred. Another signee, Lloyd Tubman, was dismissed from school. Quarterback Drew Barker, safety Darius West and receiver Dorian Baker are all out with injuries. All three have played well when healthy.

So that’s 16 members of the 2014 recruiting class who likely will not be available at Alabama Saturday unless Baker comes back after missing the last three games.

The 2014 class has produced three stars for UK — Williams, receiver Garrett Johnson and defensive back Mike Edwards. Three more — defensive lineman Adrian Middleton, offensive lineman Bunchy Stallings and defensive back Kendall Randolph have been solid. Linebacker Nico Firios and defensive lineman Tymere Dubose have not yet played enough to say while receiver Blake Bone and defensive lineman Matt Elam have not matched their signing day hype.

Maybe just looking at these numbers shows why Kentucky has struggled this season because its best ranked recruiting class just has not lived up to the signing day hype.

13 comments

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  1. Larry Pup

    I have suspected that this might happen with Horton. He has vanished from the playing field in 2016 like Hudini. The list of promising players, from the 2014 UK signing class, who have left this football team is troubling. Begs one to ask, “What is going on?”

    1. Larry Pup

      I might add, no wonder Stoops says one thing then another about team depth.

  2. Andy

    I wish Horton well. Benny is clearly the more physical back and there is a reason the coaches are playing him over Horton. UK has found its running back combo. Sometimes its all about what you show in practice and when the lights come on.

  3. Norman Einstein

    We have to remember that the big selling point for the 2014 class was playing time. There have been several players who couldn’t measure up to competition and wanted to secure playing time elsewhere. That’s not a bad reflection on the staff or the team. Simply means these guys want to play ball.

    1. Larry Pup

      Maybe so Norm, but nine players seek transfers out of the same incoming and promising signing class? Don’t that give you pause? Larry V suggests that maybe this class was over hyped. I suggest that maybe it’s the coaching. Have you ever heard of that many promising players transfer off a SEC team in one year? Especially a team like UK that is always whining about a lack of depth.

  4. RJ

    Running back is the deepest position on this team. Many players know the score when they commit to a team but a lot do not. They have been told all their life that they are exceptional and suddenly, they are not good enough. One of life’s first lessons in football: You still have to EARN your playing time, and there is always a faster gun.

    1. Larry Pup

      This UK coaching staff has had a bad habit of letting capable players languish on the bench. That is why many of us were scratching our heads when we heard Elam played 80 some odd snaps against USM without a blow. Love played 95 or some such number. Stoops got exposed on that issue, and we have seen more backups get playing time in the succeeding games. How you ever going to build depth if you don’t give some of these guys a few game snaps at times. Not all of these transfers are running backs either.

  5. Persimmon Knob

    Got’cha Mike !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  6. Andy

    Other teams also go through this so its really not a big deal. Our talent at that position indicates we have caliber players.

    1. Persimmon Knob

      Exactly Andy. Alabama announced today that Blake Barnett, a redshirt freshman and a former 5 star recruit at quarterback has announced his intention to transfer. Figure that this must be the coaching also Pupster?

      1. Larry Pup

        Good to see you are still kicking Knob, I thought the Cat had gotten your tongue. Guess I rattled your chain, that’s a good thing. Yea, occasional transfers do happen, I understand that,, but 10 in less than a year off the same SEC team, come on!! Name me one other SEC team that has had that many defections in a one year period. Snodgrass was one of the crown jewels in the 2014 class too, and never caught a pass. He probably should have never taken a RS year. Maybe it’s a problem in judging talent level necessary to play in the SEC. Hey I hope the Cats win em all, but they won’t with this guy at the helm.

    2. Larry Vaught

      Still just makes one wonder how so many recruits that we were told were so good have left and then UK complains about lack of depth. I just don’t see lot of players making dramatic improvement.

  7. GeneT

    Sad Sad state right now! I am talking about dept. You can not compete in the SEC with out 4 or 5 star players. It can change, but I don’t see it coming very soon. Good news is Snell is a great addition. Same ole same ole!!!! Go Cats!!

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