Kentucky is bringing in a historically strong recruiting class for this season. Never have the Wildcats been among the top 20 classes in the nation. The day before signing day, Kentucky sits at number 17.
In a perfect world, incoming freshmen will redshirt and contribute down the line for their program, but at Kentucky, where Mark Stoops is rebuilding, many players will have a chance to play from day one and contribute their success.
Drew Barker – QB – Barker enrolled for the spring semester and is expected to fight for a starting spot at quarterback. Barker's skill set is obvious. He has the strong arm to throw the long ball as well fit the ball into tight spots. Barker also has the ability to make the short throws with touch. Barker's greatest asset may be charisma. His leadership is something, even as a freshman, that will make Kentucky a better team immediately.
Matt Elam – DT – Elam is the most physically imposing player in Kentucky's 2014 class. While he stands 6-foot-6, 370-pounds, it's likely that the staff will want him closer to 340. Should he reach the desired weight and improve his stamina, he will likely get on the field. Obviously he needs to work on his technique and getting lower to the ground, but Elam can help out from day one due to his size and strength.
Mike Edwards – CB/S – Kentucky needs help at defensive back immediately. He could play at corner or safety effectively for Mark Stoops. He is a pure playmaker who is able to play the ball in the air and break up the pass or even take it back the distance. He obviously needs to get stronger, but his speed and ball skills make him an immediate contributor.
Thaddeus Snodgrass, Blake Bone, T.V. Williams, Dorian Baker – WR – These four freshmen are lumped in together because each of them will likely contribute to Kentucky immediately. Baker, Bone and Snodgrass all have size to make big plays on the outside and also the ability to block downfield. T.V. Williams is an electric playmaker who can score any time the ball is in his hands. They will provide depth and even have a chance to start for Kentucky this year.
Stanley Williams – RB – "Boom" Williams can score on any touch and will have a chance to run the ball from the backfield, but he can also score from the slot. Williams is smallish, but his ability with the ball in his hands make him almost impossible to redshirt this season. The main issue will be making sure Williams can pass block when necessary. Williams will play from day one and will be a difference maker.
Mikel Horton – RB – Horton is the big, physical running back that Kentucky has been trying to land for a number of years. But Horton isn't just a running back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield or play in an H-back scenarios. As long as he can pick up the blocking schemes, Horton will likely play this season.
Darryl Long – TE – Kentucky has been in search of a consistent receiver at tight end since Jacob Tamme graduated after the 2007 season. In Darryl Long they get a great athlete who can block, but will absolutely be a threat across the middle of the field. He will also be a redzone threat when the Wildcats make it to within scoring position.
Nico Firios – LB – Kentucky needs playmakers near the line of scrimmage. Nico Firios attacks the ball unlike anybody else in this recruiting class. Firios' has size a nose for the ball that can't be taught. He will have an opportunity to earn the starting spot at middle linebacker, but even if he doesn't start, Firios should see ample playing time.
Dorian Hendrix – LB – Hendrix has the best combination of size and athleticism among the Kentucky linebacker recruits. He needs to improve on his techniques and making the right reads, but if he can get that down, his physical gifts make him a shew-in to get playing time at outside linebacker or maybe even inside.
Junior college prospects Ryan Flannigan (OLB), A.J. Stamps (CB) and Cory Johnson (DT) will all also play immediately for Kentucky this year, providing help at their respective levels of the defense. Cory Johnson is already on campus and may be penciled in as a starter at defensive tackle if he performs this spring.
AllWildcats will keep you updated on Kentucky's signing day.