New standard for UK football as it recruits to win a national championship

Winning 10 games annually is now the standard goal for UK football according to Wan'Dale Robinson and Will Levis. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Getting to a bowl and winning a bowl game used to be a goal for the University of Kentucky football team. But not anymore.

Kentucky’s 20-17 Citrus Bowl win over Iowa Saturday was UK’s 10th win — the second time in the last four years UK has won 10 games. It was also UK’s fourth straight bowl win and makes Kentucky and Alabama the only teams in the nation to have four straight bowl wins.

“This is the standard, 10 wins. That is what it is. Every year from now on, you want to win 10 or more,” said receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, the Citrus Bowl MVP, after the win.

“Coach (Mark) Stoops deserves all the credit in the world for what he has done with this program. This is obviously my first year with the team. There were a lot of guys before us going back a few years that really built the foundation for what the program has been able to do right now,” quarterback Will Levis, a Penn State transfer who lost to UK in the 2018 Citrus Bowl, said.

“Like Wan’Dale said, this is the standard now. We have to hold everyone else to the standard on the team. Once these new guys and the recruiting class comes in, it is a great class, but we have to make sure they come in with a positive attitude and looking to learn and get better.

“If they want to be a part of even a bigger step to the next level, whether it is a New Year’s Six Bowl game or College Football Playoff or SEC Championship, we need to take it up a notch.”

Stoops says his team is used to playing — and winning — close games and has the toughness and resiliency to do that.

“We talked about playing the game with honor, and they do that. These players do. This is a player-led team,” Stoops said.

Recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow has been with Stoops since the start at UK. He remembers “all the crap and stuff” they had to deal with after they arrived.

“They were always throwing stuff at us but now it is easier to recruit to win a national championship. Years ago we were recruiting to win six games and go to a bowl,” Marrow said. “Now we are recruiting to go win a national championship. People are now looking and knowing this could be a reality.”

8 Responses

  1. Great game for the Cats Saturday. I’ve been waiting a long time for this one.

    After all the congrats, however, we need to consider just how important recruiting is. Although they came through in the clutch, a sober review of Saturday’s game will show that our offensive and defensive line got solidly whipped in the second half. We need players that can play with intensity 60 minutes and can kick it up a notch after the half. We need at least two more Wandell Robinsons plus back up. And, much more talent in the defensive secondary. We were giving receivers way too much room to complete catches. Speed and length is everything! Go Cats!!!!!

    1. Rjohn, you didn’t read the game script why we were getting beat at the line during the second half. We had several starters that was force out of the game due to injuries especially on the defensive side. Stoops had plug them with backup players and in my book they did a dam good job of holding Iowa of not scoring any more points than they did or we wouldn’t have won the game .

      1. You’re right Cats79. But, that’s why we need to recruit, recruit and recruit some more. One deep at the starting talent level will not cut it if you are trying to win the SEC East much less a national championship. If you look at the rosters of the nation championship contenders next week, you will find very little difference in talent between the starter and his back up. That’s why they contend and win championships year in and year out. We have made it this far with #3 and maybe a #4 here and there, but they get #4s and #3s with an occasional #5. Saturday Down South had an excellent article about this on its opening page this morning.

  2. UK football just needs to enjoy this 2021 season results for awhile, then get back to work in the weight room, etc. and build a tough, hard nosed football team for 2022. I believe some very good talent is inbound. They lose some key players off this squad that will be hard to replace. UK must re-load and then pay the price in hard work. They have a big target on their back now in the SEC. No longer are they everybody’s "whipping boy" since they have served notice. Who is going to be the play makers next year? I surely believe Coach will get it done. He has more than proved he is capable of preparing his football team for battle.

  3. There were a lot of guys before us going back a few years that really built the foundation for what the program has been able to do right now, I’m so thankful for your helpful post!

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