By LARRY VAUGHT
He wasn’t officially the first recruit in the 2014 class to verbally commit to Kentucky and isn’t viewed as being a catalyst for other recruits to pick UK in the way Conner quarterback Drew Barker is.
Yet Huber Heights (Ohio) linebacker Dorian Hendrix could have as big a role in coach Mark Stoops’ recruiting success as any player in the 2014 class.
Florida defensive end Denzel Ware was the first 2014 commit. However, he later de-committed and only recently pledged to sign with the Wildcats again. To me, that makes Hendrix the first commit in the 2014 class because he’s never wavered about UK.
When he made his unofficial visit to UK, it was on the same day as Ohio receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass and running back Braylon Heard, another Ohio native who was transferring from Nebraska. Snodgrass later committed to UK and became the highest ranked receiver ever to commit to the Cats. Heard also decided to transfer to UK.
“I do take a little bit of extra pride in how recruiting is going,” said the 6-1, 215-pound Hendrix, a three-star recruit with five-star influence. “I know coach Stoops and his staff are going to do something special down there. I could tell the 2013 (recruiting) class was good and we could build something special with that class. I had talked to some guys before I committed and told them I was really interested in Kentucky.
“When I made my commitment, I knew I could bring guys like Thaddeus Snodgrass, (running back) Mikel Horton, (safety) Darius West and (safety) Michael Edwards with me. Everything worked out that way, too. I also kind of knew from the get-go that Drew Barker would come to Kentucky. You could just tell by hanging out with him in Lexington and the whole attitude toward the spring game that he would be down there and be a Cat. There was no doubt in my mind. I knew we could get all those special guys and then do special things at Kentucky.”
Hendrix, rated the nation’s No. 59 outside linebacker by Scout.com, says the recruiting class gets along “like brothers” even though they have not know each other that long. He says the recruits all make a concerted effort to target specific players to join them at UK.
“We talk to the staff and ask who we need to go after,” Hendrix said. “We play a part in other players coming. If we show them love, there is a higher chance we will get them down there. That’s why the coaches tell us who to go after. You go to camps and see guys. You want certain guys who are ballers and have winning attitudes. The day I committed, I was out there recruiting, texting and letting guys know Kentucky was going to be something special.”