Marrow Glad UK Able to Maintain Roster in New Age of Free Agency


Brock Vandagriff impressed UK coaches with his play against Kentucky last season. (UK Athletics Photo)

Vince Marrow still remembers the doubts many had when he arrived at Kentucky with new coach Mark Stoops about whether Kentucky could have a consistent winning program. He also quickly realized that the roster Stoops inherited when he got to UK was not talented enough to win.

“You were going to keep us down a little bit but I knew you better enjoy then before we climbed up,” the UK associate coach/recruiting coordinator said.  “I can go on and on about teams beating us, but when we started beating those guys it made me feel really good.

“Guys who helped us rebuild this program know that they can always come back here because this is their home.”

Keeping that “home” feeling and maintaining a roster has gotten more difficult in recent years with the transfer portal and NIL.

“We have done a good job keeping the key guys we want here. But even guys that have left, I still love those guys and always hope they do well,” Marrow said. “But they all also know they can always come back and that’s just the way we are here at Kentucky.”

Marrow knows today’s college football is like the NFL with coaches having to be vigilant and always looking ahead.

“I am not saying this happened and I promise it did not happen like this. But we were playing Georgia and looking at all those dudes and this other quarterback (Brock Vandagriff) comes in and he’s poised and making plays,” Marrow said. “I said to one of our coaches, ‘We would love to have this dude on our team.’”

Turns out Vandagriff decided to transfer and is now at Kentucky where he is expected to be the starting quarterback next season.

“It’s just the way it is now when you have a quarterback or running back who is number two or three and feels he is really good that he is going to go into the portal and once they do they are just like NFL free agents and you have free access to pursue. So you have to always be aware of those possibilities,” Marrow said.

“I think we have a young, talented roster and we had a lot of other people poke our guys because they were so good but I think Mark (Stoops) did a really good job maintaining our roster for this season.”

3 Responses

  1. Marrow & Stoops have been relentless recruiters and results are now getting better with more multi-star talent on the roster.

    The jury is still out as to whether Stoops can recapture the status and momentum UK enjoyed but was not able to maintain when Coen led the UK offense out of the Stoops era lockdown (run up the middle over & over regardless of results using pseudo QBs who could not complete a decent % of passes beyond 5 yards).

    2024 is either going to confirm UK is just a middle of the pack SEC team or going to knock at the door to join the elites.

    The ‘players in a daze’ at kickoff (a disturbing Stoops era tradition)
    at the start of every season & every game must end!!!

    Someone needs to bluntly tell Stoops to step aside & get some alumni (Couch?!) to give a genuine pep talk before players take the field before kickoff instead of hypnotizing them into a trance!

    Vandergriff may well be the best QB since Babe Parelli, nearly 3/4 century ago. The OC needs to be unleashed and not controlled as prior OC’s seemingly experienced. I have no idea what the OC can or can’t do. This is the SEC and nothing like conferences out west. So, the jury is out regarding a lot.

  2. I think hamdan is going to do a way better job then coen. Coen tried to run a pro style offense with college players. We didn’t have the personnel to run that offense plus we wouldn’t snap the ball until their was 1 or 2 seconds on the play clock. That gives the defense enough time to get lined up correctly, make any adjustments that need to be made and a little break in between plays. Plus the defense can burst off the line because they are gonna snap the ball or get a flag at the last second. I’m very happy about our program and proud of the progress. I remember the 2-9 seasons over and over. Bill Curry ball was so boring. Hal Mumme came and I thought here we go rising to the top then allegations against the football team. I think Guy Morris was really going to take Kentucky to the top. He was a great coach. Rich Brooks did a good job well a really good seeing that he couldn’t recruit good at all and still had us in the best position we had been in a long time. I was excited about joker Phillips. I thought he was going to do a great job and then u started seeing the recruits he was bringing in and I knew it was over. We was competing against eastern Kentucky and Akron for recruits. Mark Stoops came into a very bad situation here. I think we had one 4* football players on the team. He instantly upgraded our recruits and it would take them 2-3 years to get going because football isn’t as easy to rebuild as basketball is but you seen progress every year until he reached 10 wins. Weve done that twice over the last 5 years that is incredible to me. The transfer portal has ramped up and our team keeps getting better and better. We can go 10-3 one year and then go 7-6 the next year and the 7-6 team might be better tham the 10-3 team its about how the league is doing and in football 2 bad plays can cost you the game. I know in 2024 we are the most deep, experienced, talented, athletic, fastest team we have ever been in my life. We have the best quarterback we have ever had. He’s better than Couch because he has a great deep ball. Couch would toss it 5 yards and let Yeast shake a defender bounce to the outside and take it to the house. Or he would throw it to kio Sanford over the middle and he would break it open. We haven’t had good receivers here in a long time and by that I mean a group of receivers. Wandale Robinson was great. Lynn Bowden was great. Randall Cobb was great. Now we have Barion Brown who this year after having 2 years experience in the SEC is going to really take off he’s still young he will be a 20 year old junior so he was 18 taking kickoffs to the house. He will be unstoppable this year. Dane Key will be a 1-2 round draft pick when its all said and done. If the ball is anywhere around him he will catch it even on the back of someones helmet. Brown needs to improve his hands which surprises me because he handles kickoffs. Those 2 are going to be special. Maclin in the slot is going to be a sight to see. Those 3 receivers on the field will be the best receiver set we’ve ever had at Kentucky. Brown Stephens is very shifty and fast plus he is going to be good this year and really good his junior year. Everyone keeps talking about hardley gilmore he’s only 16? His birthday is coming up and he will be 17? I hope they don’t burn a year on him and he only gets 4 or 5 catches. They need to redshirt him but let him play his 3-4 games and keep his redshirt. I don’t know what’s up with Porter? He was supposed to be just as good as Key and Brown but I haven’t heard a peep out of him. See I’m rambling but I could go on all day about how great we will be this year. Just think about this….. We are preseason top 25 when has that ever happened in the last 40 years? We have a 4* player at every position on the whole roster. Don’t believe me look at the depth chart and check out what all the players were ranked coming out of high school. I said all that to say this… Thank you Mark Stops its a miracle he’s still here at Kentucky and hasn’t went to another school. I thought he was going to be gone after the second 10 win season. So I appreciate everything you and the staff have done to make us relevant at my favorite sport.

    1. If UK has 4* players at every position (& I’m not doubting you), it is the best since 1977. That’s nearly 1/2 century & should give UK enough talent to get 10 wins and not stumble through another mediocre 7-6 season.

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