Kentucky coach Mark Stoops shared an unwanted distinction with Arkansas' Bret Bielema last year as the only two SEC coaches to go winless in conference play. But Stoops is distinguishing himself in a far better way this winter on the recruiting trail, and added a key commitment Thursday in massive, 6-foot-5, 372-pound defensive lineman Matt Elam.
He chose UK over SEC power Alabama, which represents the sort of recruiting coup rarely seen for Wildcats football. Elam is from Elizabethtown (Ky.) John Hardin High, so his commitment to UK represents a prized in-state recruiting victory. According to kentucky.com, three UK assistant coaches made a final visit to Elam on Wednesday.
By comparison, it's about as stunning a recruiting upset as Alabama signing a basketball player from Kentucky wanted by John Calipari.
Ohio State, Notre Dame and Tennessee were among Elam's other top offers. Elam is regarded as a four-star prospect by 247sports.com.
"I definitely anticipate to go in and play," Elam said.
Rivals.com ranks Kentucky's list of commitments as the No. 13-rated class in the nation with less than a week before national signing day. That's exceptionally high for the recruiting standard to which UK football has met in the past.
Under NCAA rules, Stoops is not permitted to comment on recruits until after UK has received a letter of intent. Those letters pour in via fax at schools all over the nation next Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA's football signing period.