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.