By LARRY VAUGHT
It has not taken long for new Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops to start trying to cash in on his Ohio recruiting connections.
Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Green (@BillBankGreene) noted on Twitter Thursday that UK had offered four-star receiver Shelton Gibson and he would make an official visit to UK Saturday. Kentucky also offered Huber Heights Wayne lineman Lovell Peterson and he will also visit Saturday. Even McKinley sophomore Eric Glover-Williams got an offer from Kentucky, his first SEC offer.
Another recruiting analyst, Dave Berk (@DMBerk) posted this on Twitter: “#Kentucky football making push in Ohio with offers this week after few years of window shopping.”
Part of this has to be the Stoops name, which is particularly big northeast Ohio in cities like Canton, Youngstown and Cleveland. Part of it has to do with new tight ends coach Vince Marrow, the former Nebraska assistant with big-time ties to Ohio.
But there is also another factor apparently.
“The previous staff came but never really worked Ohio and was so selective in who they would offer,” said one recruiting analyst who asked not to be identified because of ties to the previous UK staff. “They would offer kids they could never get and ignore kids who could help them.”
“It’s still going to be an uphill battle for Stoops, but (Louisville coach) Charlie Strong is not as welcome in Ohio because he dropped a kid a couple of years ago a few weeks before signing day. He’s trying to remedy that, but Louisville won’t hurt Kentucky in Ohio.”
He said Peterson has the talent to play at Ohio State and could be a center, guard or defensive tackle. However, last year he lost weight, fell behind in the classroom and perhaps thought he could be an Olympian. He didn’t go all-out when he attended UK’s summer camp. His wake-up call came when less talented teammates got far better scholarship offers than him.
“He is the top kid in the school. If they get him, and they might, he would be a steal,” the analyst said. “I think Michigan State is maybe waiting to see his grades, so that could be a big test for them.
“But those guys are going to recruit Ohio more aggressively. They are going to hit Ohio hard. It’s not just the Stoops name. He knows they need to recruit Ohio. It’s a short drive from Cincinnati to Lexington. There are tons of players every year in Ohio who can help Kentucky a lot and Stoops not only knows that, but he intends to capitalize on that.”