By LARRY VAUGHT
When Mark Stoops came to Kentucky as head coach, he immediately emphasized that he would recruit Ohio, his home state. He made that even clearer when he hired Vince Marrow, another Ohio native, to coach tight ends.
He had three Ohio signees in his initial recruiting class, but UK’s two commitments for 2014 are both Ohio prep standouts and Stoops and Marrow seem to be in position to land many more Ohio players in their second recruiting class.
That doesn’t surprise Lakota West High School coach Larry Cox, who sent John Conner to UK as a walk-on player and watched him develop into a NFL player. The veteran Ohio prep coach thinks UK has missed out on recruiting Ohio players for years.
“To be perfectly honest, Kentucky has never really recruited Ohio hard,” said Cox.
Kentucky is recruiting his star running back, Mikel Horton, and seems to be one of his top five schools. Cox also senses the push Stoops is making into Ohio for other players.
“Some of the premier players in Ohio, Kentucky tried to go after but they did not really not go after the all-around type of premier players,” Cox said. “Mark realizes being from Ohio what type of talent this state has. Look at what John Conner did. That tells you what type of talent there is here.
“When Stoops first got the job at Kentucky, I told him, ‘You are an hour from downtown Cincinnati and for you not to be recruiting Cincinnati is a crime,’” Cox said. “You are looking at some of the hottest football talent in the state in southwestern Ohio. He better be living in this part of the state. Our kids play good competition every week and will play at a high level in college. They want to play the best, too.
“Vince Marrow is primarily recruiting our area and understands that. He is already doing a great job and you can see the results. Kentucky has a chance to make a big splash in Ohio and they know that.”