, Kentucky (PressExposure) April 29, 2009 -- Playing in the Southeastern Conference is not the easiest, but the University of Kentucky Wildcats made it look harder than it is. With an overall record of 7-6 and a Liberty Bowl victory over Conference USA champion East Carolina University, on paper the Wildcats look pretty good, but let's examine it a little more. While 7-6 is average, a 2-6 conference record is painful to the team and fans alike, but beyond that the only 2 conference wins were against Mississippi State and Arkansas, both also finished 2-6 conference, and both were 1 point victories. The other 4 wins came against teams like Louisville, Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky, not exactly the hardest teams, yet the Coaches Poll has them listed at 37.
Under Rich Brooks the program has made improvements, though, going from mostly playing on regional television to winning nationally televised games. Brooks is happy with his 2009 class and has high hopes, stating, "We're not where we want to be in the SEC, but this class, in my opinion, will help this program get closer to where we want to be". The Wildcats have won 3 straight bowl games now, which has helped them with their recruiting, "Obviously, winning helps open doors," Brooks said. This year's recruiting class is the best under Brooks, where they signed all but one player that had given a verbal commitment, including three four star players, which is the most since Brooks has been in Lexington, Ky. Brooks' recruiting class is ranked 26th or 42nd in the nation depending on the source.
Kentucky did lose out on two defensive backs when Safety Darren Myles of Atlanta signed with Tennessee, and cornerback Justin Green of Louisville Male High School picked Illinois over the Wildcats, but they signed four-star LA Harbor recruit, defensive end DeQuin Evans. The Wildcats also brought in two top 10 rated quarterbacks in this class, Ryan Mossakowski of Frisco, Tx and Morgan Newton of Carmel, In. Mossakowski, who is primarily known as a passer, threw for 6,834 yards and 49 touchdowns over his final three seasons, but also has good mobility and ran for 787 yards and 19 touchdowns in that time. Newton was named "Mr. Football" in Indiana, where he threw for 1,938 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior, while rushing for 1,664 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. He won three straight state championships and broke 10 school records, eight of which were held by former NFL and Purdue quarterback Mark Herrmann. Other top recruits were wide receiver Chris Matthews from Paramount, Ca, a junior college transfer from Los Angeles Harbor College, and defensive tackle Mark Crawford from Indianapolis, In, a 6-1, 290-pound transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas who is expected to replace Myron Pryor who graduated, and make an immediate impact. "As always I am excited about our signees," Brooks said. "Clearly, I think that this class addresses some needs and has an awful lot of playmakers and some big, big-time SEC offensive and defensive linemen."