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Kentucky now has a “gimmick” to attract top football recruits

By HAL MORRIS

Former Kentucky football player Derrick Johnson said you’ve got to have a “gimmick” sometimes to get recruits, pointing out Oregon’s multiple eye-catching uniforms as one example.

“You’ve got to realize you’re not recruiting grown people, you’re recruiting 18-, 19-year-old kids, and you’ve got to do what makes them excited. Whether it’s putting an Xbox or PlayStation in the lockers to get them to come to school, so be it. You’ve got to realize everything’s about even now. Everyone’s on TV, so you’ve got to separate yourself.

“And I use Oregon all the time, they did it with their uniforms.”

So what’s Kentucky’s gimmick?

“I think Neal Brown’s offense is a big deal, and I also think the names Stoops is synonymous with football,” Derrick Johnson said. “And with the way social media works, someone tweets, ‘I’m going to Kentucky,’ then they next guy goes, ‘Well I want to go to Kentucky too.’ And these kids are around each other year long (at camps and combines) and make that commitment and want to hang together.”

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13 comments

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  1. Larry Pup

    I been saying that for years. To recruit top talent you have to have a plan, gimmick, excitement about the program. All of those things. I believe UK has succeeded in doing all of the above. Go CATS!!!!

  2. Toicat

    Good post L. Pup!

    For me, has been since the Fran Curci year’s since I was this excited about Wildcat football. It’s not that there have not been some good moments in the past 10-years…there have been a few. But….with this NEW program from Coach Stoops…people can feel the “electricity” and get a sense that better days are just waiting.

    Since moving to South Florida in the late 80′s, I have heard more than my fill of UK (football) jokes from my Gator friends. True, Kentucky has not played Florida very well, and thank Heaven for the Cardinal’s win over UF in the Sugar Bowl. Going forward I will hope and pray the Cat’s can notch some wins from Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee in the years to come! Looking forward to September.

    Go Cat’s Go !

  3. Ira

    I blame the coaching staff’s for those losses. We looked out of sync, skeered coming out in the first quarter. We always let the Gators whip our ass in the first quarter every year.

    Hopefully this new staff will have our team coming prepared out of the locker room, up beat, on fire, ready to play some football in the Bluegrass this year.

  4. ukscat

    Toicat – - I hear ya’ about those intolerable Gators !!
    However, I was rooting for a scoreless tie in the UL/UF game.
    I partially blame Bill Curry for the UF beat-downs. We used to play UF the week before UT. Many times we would have a cold day ( or evening ) and at times the Gator kids would see snow for the first time. Turnovers galore !! Gave us a chance.
    Curry made the move so ” UK wouldn’t have to face UF – UT back to back”
    We lost our weather advantage – - plus we have to journey to the Swamp in September where it is 110 on the field and 98 percent humidity.
    I’ve seen our “bigs” wilt before kick-off.
    Thanks Bill.

  5. Shinny

    I truly hope the University will work on game atmosphere! The kids that come and visit love all the hipe–more current players pre-game on the big board–lockerroom scenes on the big board–STOP the bush league cannon shots–MORE of air raid sirens pre-game. I hope those in charge “get it” like the players,fans,and coaches have!! If you have been to a Alabama game the roar of the elephant before the game will drive you nuts”But the recruits and fans love it”! When is the last time you heard a wildcat in Commonwealth???

  6. Larry T Clemons

    I’m in Ft. Lauderdale, (Gallery721.com) and I too, have had my share of Gators bashing Ky Football…I always remind them it took Kentucky Blue Blood lineage, to bring them two Basketball Title, with Our Wildcat, Coach Billy Donavon…

  7. Toicat

    Right on, Larry! Excellent point.

  8. Ira

    I’ve been told the reason you don’t see or hear a Wildcat in the stadium is that it’s actually a shy creature. All those people were hard on its nervous system being surrounded by thousands of fans all the time. Don’t know if true.

  9. King Ghidora

    I went to a pre-game “Skull Session” at Ohio St. while my daughter was attending school there. They packed the old St. John’s Arena with so many people it was like people were high from a lack of oxygen. That place is hot, crowded and LOUD! You stick a band on the floor and 10k screaming fans packed to the rafters (literally) and you certainly get atmosphere for the game. When the players show up it’s no place to be if you’re an old joker like me. I was looking for the door. Too bad though. There was no way to get to it. It must have taken half an hour just to get out after the thing was over and I could barely breathe the entire time. I wonder how they ever managed to play basketball in that place. My high school’s gym was far better. But they certainly would have made an impression on young kids. I’m just glad no one yelled fire in the place because about half of the people there would have died in the crush. But they do it before every home game and the crowd doesn’t change a bit as they move over to the stadium. It looks like an army of psychos walking toward the Shoe.

    UK has nothing like that for football. They should. Basketball created it’s own buzz. Just standing in line to get in was a massive rush when I was going to the student section. The football team needs something to get the fans going which will get the team going right from the start. Maybe we won’t see those first quarter blowouts we have seen so often against the Gators. It has been so predictable I have almost wanted to ignore the whole scene at times. I’m sure others feel the same way. And clearly the team has expected to lose big before the game was through a quarter. That’s the only reason it could happen so predictably. The Cats have done much better against other great teams. It’s a mental thing with Florida and it needs to stop.

  10. King Ghidora

    Here’s info about the Skull Session there. And BTW the place actually holds 13k instead of 10k.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ohio_State_University_Marching_Band#Skull_Session

    They have a whole string of traditions at Ohio St. surrounding the football team. It must work to some degree because they have been pretty successful.

  11. Larry Pup

    UK has the Cat Walk King. If you have ever been to one, it is impressive. It will be more impressive this year with the excitement Coach Stoops has brought to UK football.

  12. Larry Pup

    I lived in Florida for 20 years. Had to put up with that all the time. It is going to change, I do believe. UK is on a mission.

  13. King Ghidora

    Actually OSU has pretty much the same deal Larry. They call it the Tunnel Of Pride. They have so many football traditions there it’s crazy really. From dotting the I in script Ohio to doing script Ohio to the Block O section to the Victory Bell to the Gold Pants to Buckeye Grove (where a buckeye tree is planted for every All American to play there) all of those things make a difference to recruits. Heck they also jump into Mirror Lake the week before the Michigan game (which is incredibly cold at that time of year). But the kids seem to like it.

    I know UK has it’s own traditions like Midnight Madness like few others do it. I also know that stuff appeals to kids and the more of the BBN cooks up the more recruits it will bring in. Heck just sticking to the name “Rupp Arena” these days is a big deal IMO. Most teams play in arenas with silly names based on some company like the Tidy Bowl or whatever. The chicken coop certainly comes to mind here. :)

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