Assistants See Both Sides Of Recruiting
Eisaman, Hallum Reflect On Signings
Five to six inches of snow covered the Bermuda turf at Commonwealth Stadium last Friday morning. Even though it was the day after Eddie Sutton's hoopsters defeated Alabama to retain their grasp on the SEC lead, the talk around Cooper Drive was not about basketball. For some this cold, weekend beginning day marked the end to a week of speculation of a different sport — football.
You see, the 1986 NCAA national signing day was less than 48 hours old. And with it brought smiles of landing talented recruits like an Al Baker, mixed in with "we almost got this All-American prep star' expressions.
Although the trail never ends for new prospects, the Kentucky football staff added 14 recruits last week to their current roster. Last Wednesday was the first day high school seniors could sign with the school of their choice.
Cats' Pause Columnist
While the out-of-state numbers were good (eight). UK retrieved only six in-state players this season.
"As far as our in-state recruiting is concerned I think it was a lean year in the state." said Wildcat assistant Jerry Eisaman last Friday. "We had a few outstanding football players, six to eight. The last three years we've had between 12 and 16.
"Every year we've been getting approximately 12 in-state football players and we'd approximately get eight out-of-state football players. This year we get six in-state and 12 out-of-state players. It's not anything against the out-of-state recruiting, even thought Proposition 48 hurt us, we just had a lean year in the state. That was the difference, it's that simple.
"We think that the in-state recruiting was good. It was good because of the fact that we've got six outstanding football players. What's bad about it is there wasn't enough of them in the state."........ ^j^^^^js^ai^^fe^^^^a^^^^Mih^^iMtaSMi
Besides landing four freshmen-to-be from Louisville, Kentucky received Bluegrass commitments from Owensboro (Carlos Phillips) and Cadiz (Al Baker), both from the western part of the state.
Eisaman. who's been active in the recruiting wars for 20 years, sees the Kentucky prep scene getting better, however.
He mentioned that Louisville alone will have seven to 10 outstanding prospects alone next season. "That's going to be more (Division I) players in Louisville next year than had been in our whole state this year," said Eisaman.
Counting the Cincinnati area, he feels like there will be 25-30 Kentucky youngsters capable of playing big time ball.
Coming off a disappointing 5-6 slate had to be on the minds of the prospective prep seniors who were considering Kentucky. Another factor played a big role with the low number of gridiron signees throughout the nation, too.
The main concern with many college recruiters is what effects Proposition 48 will have on the future student/athlete.
Proposition 48 Cut Down The Numbers Game
This season the numbers appeared to be down for everyone. With Proposition 48 now in effect high school graduates will have tougher guidelines to qualify just to attend a Division I institution.
Those guidelines are: ACT scores have to be at least 15: SAT 700 and a GPA of 2.0. Plus, a 2.0 GPA in 11 specified units — 3 units of English. 2 Math, 2 Social Studies, 2 Natural Sciences and 2 additional college preparatory courses — is required for the prep student.
As of now there's a 'sliding rule', which if a high school graduate makes as low as a 13 on the ACT. but has a 2.2 GPA, he or she is still eligible to attend a Division I institution. And if a student has a 1.8 in the 11 (units) core curriculum, but a 16 on the ACT they then can also enroll at the college of their choice.
But in 1988 the minimum will be the breakoff point — 700 on the SAT, 15 ACT and a 2.0 GPA. The 'sliding rule", thus, will no longer be in effect.
"Somebody told me that recruiting in the state of Florida was cut in half," said UK offensive line coach Jake Hallum, who has 19 recruiting years under his belt. "It was something like 250 guys had signed Division I. and now it's like a 100 or so. Now. a lot of the schools are after the same people."
In regards to strengthening academics both Eisaman and Hallum liked the idea of the new rule, but felt there were some drawbacks.
"The biggest thing is," insisted Hallum, "I don't know if the high school coaches are aware of this, but they have to start posting things and start guiding the youngsters to take the college preparatory courses. When you're in the eighth, ninth, or tenth grade. . .how many of those guys know they want to go to college, much less taking college algebra, trigonometry and all of those courses."
"The high school coaches are going to have to do a good job of explaining it to the youngsters coming through."
Eisaman'1 lain concern is what happens to the kid who falls below the minimum standards to entei college.
"Proposition 48 has taken an opportunity away from some kids that probably do not have a real good family background. They may have had some problems growing up. It's going to take that opportunity away from them of going to college and being a more productive
citizen in the community four or five years later.
"Academically it helped the universities get a better student athlete. In the long run I think that football will suffer because so many good football players can't go to college."
Eisaman. a former UK player in 1958. '59 and '60. mentioned that kids on the team have enrolled on the Kentucky campus with eight and nine scores on the ACT. Yet, they have developed as college students under Bob Bradley's CATS guidance (Center for Academic and Tutorial Services) and "they're making good grade point averages, they're going to graduate, and be productive to their community."
With 19 UK grid players recently posting grade-point averages of a 3.0 (out of a possible 4.0) or higher, prep prospects have to be impressed with Kentucky's academic background. It's a valuable recruiting tool which will now be more important with the passage of Proposition 48.
Coaches Optimistic About New Recruits
Even though the quantity didn't match last season's total, (23 recruits) the coaches are pleased with the quality.
Getting a player with the talent Baker has is a must, especially if the student/athlete resides within the state.
"It was very important that we got Al Baker; there's a youngster that has tremendous potential," Hallum said. "If he'll keep his mind in the right prospective and continue to work like has in high school then he's got to be an outstanding player.
"My job right now is to develop the linemen to go in front of him "
Time after time Jerry Claiborne has been quoted as saying that UK needs big linemen who can play in the Southeastern Conference. It seems as Kentucky gets one or two of the 250-pound variety, Alabama or Auburn corrals a group of bigger linemen.
In regards to recruiting linemen this year, Kentucky played the hit and miss game. While losing out in the battle for Ohio native John Peterson (Ohio State), New Jersey's Dave Szott (Penn State), Daviess County's Colburn Clark (Louisville) and Maryland's Eric Jonassen (Penn State), the Wildcats did acquire the services of five needed linemen.
They range in size from 6-foot-2, 220 pounds to 6-5, 265 lbs. Included in the bunch is Dean Wilks, a 6-5, 265-pound offensive lineman from Proctorville, Ohio.
The UK staff found out about Wilks when someone called them and said Proctorville had the 2-A UPI Ohio lineman of the year. Kentucky outdueled Ohio University, Marshall and Miami University for Wilks' services.
"Dean has the potential to be a real outstanding player," noted Hallum. "He's big and he runs good.
"We would liked to have gotten a few more linemen and that was probably the only disappointing thing for us as far as recruiting is concerned."
You Can't Always Get What You Want
The feeling around the Wildcat football office is, 'Sure, we came close on some outstanding players, BUT we've got to be happy with what we have.'
These coaches know the next four or five years for these recruits are the key. A super talent can come into a program and be a flop, whereas a walk-on could be the steadiest player of the crop.
Hallum noted that defensive tackle junior-to-be John Shannon, who came to UK as a walkon, has turned into a good collegiate player. Thus, the 6-3, 247-pound Wildcat earned a scholarship last season.
Eisaman summed up prep recruits pretty well when he compared a million dollar race horse to one that originally sold for a little more than $10,000. Sometimes you don't get what
That particular horse which sold for $12,500, Spend-A-Buck, went on to capture the Kentucky Derby. How many million dollar babies have failed just to win an ordinary race, not to mention a Triple Crown event? I know I don't (or couldn't) want to find out.
"In 20 years I've been in it (recruiting) I've lost some kids that I thought were great football player who didn't materialize," said Eisaman, who pointed out that tradition was the school's best selling point. "They didn't pan out. I've gotten some kids who I recruited real easy and hardly put any effort on, and they came. I thought they were going to be a so-so football player, but they were better than the kid we lost.
Is potential regarded too highly?
"What he (player) does with that potential in the next three or four years remains to be seen." Eisaman expressed.
"We've been very fortunate to get hard working overachievers. Those types of people are what we build our program around. That's why Coach (Claiborne) is among the Top 20 winningest coaches in the country."