Originally Published: June 19, 2013

Marrow key in Kentucky's 2014 class

By Jared Shanker | ESPN RecruitingNation

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Vince Marrow kicks his Nikes up on his desk. He leans back in his chair, sitting comfortably in a black Kentucky long-sleeve shirt and UK shorts. He speaks with an unmistakable confidence. He is remarkably relaxed for someone who is saddled with much of the responsibility of turning around a perennial loser in the country's toughest conference.

Vince Marrow
AP Photo/NFL PhotosCan Vince Marrow help make Kentucky a contender? Locking down Ohio is a start.

"I'm going to go after the No. 1 guy in Ohio. I'm going after the top 30 guys in Ohio, and let's roll up our sleeves and see what happens," Marrow said. "We might shock the world. I made it very clear that we're not taking a backseat to nobody."

The Wildcats are already flooring much of the college football world with their fast start to the 2014 recruiting class. Kentucky is ranked No. 11 in the country, and this class of 18 commitments is already considered the best in school history. Eight of those commitments -- including four of the top eight -- are from Ohio, a top-five state in producing Division I talent. It's also Marrow's home state and a Marrow stronghold.

Few, if any, coaches in the country recruit the Buckeye State as well as Marrow. And Ohio has been key to the turnaround going on at Kentucky, where the belief that the Wildcats can compete for an SEC title -- an SEC football title -- has never been higher. Expectations in Lexington have reached new heights, and new coach Mark Stoops and Marrow are using Ohio to help them reach it. Both look at Ohio, a little more than an hour drive from Kentucky's campus, the same way Ohio State does: a recruit committing to Kentucky is committing to an in-state program.

"It made sense to have the whole state be viewed as an in-state area to us," said Stoops, who played with Marrow at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. "We work extremely hard in Ohio."

No one is working harder in Ohio than Marrow, who exclusively recruits the state.

For the full story, check out the On The Trail blog Insider.

Jared Shanker

ESPN Staff Writer

Michigan vs. Alabama on the trail

By Chantel Jennings | ESPN WolverineNation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It's never a surprise to see Alabama football near the top of any ratings. Nick Saban has a proven track record on the field. That has translated to the recruiting trail as he has pulled in top classes year in and year out, finishing in the top three in recruiting in each of the past five years. He's had the top class for the past two seasons.

But currently, Saban sits behind Brady Hoke and the Wolverines in the 2014 recruiting class rankings. Hoke's 2014 class of 11 prospects has nine commits in the ESPN 150, while Alabama has just six.

The rankings are a collection of quality and quantity, with the amount of top recruits as well as the total number of recruits coming in to play. Alabama can take 25-30 commits whereas Michigan will take around 16.

In the most recent update, the Crimson Tide jumped two spots as they picked up commitments, one from the No. 2 quarterback overall, David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North), and wide receiver Derek Kief (Cincinnati/La Salle).

The Wolverines started the rankings out as the No. 6 class but have slowly picked up more and more top recruits. They have been sitting solidly in No. 1 since May 17, even before the commitment from the No. 2 overall prospect, cornerback Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic).

However, the Tide could take that spot away if they can snag a few commits. They're closing in on the No. 1 player in the nation, running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), and the top offensive tackle in the nation, Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe).

For the full story, check out ESPN's WolverineNation Insider. And for a look at whether Alabama will overtake Michigan in the class rankings, check out ESPN's TideNation Insider.

QB Harris' plan leads to meteoric rise

By Gary Laney | ESPN GeauxTigerNation

Brandon Harris insists he doesn't like attending football camps.

Brandon Harris
Tom Hauck for Student SportsBrandon Harris' recruitment grew exponentially at showcase camps and a school workout.

"You don't get enough reps," he said. "You get a rep, then you wait around while other quarterbacks throw. I'd much rather be throwing with my [high school] teammates. I like to make every rep count."

It's funny Harris would say that because camps have been so good to the Bossier City (La.) Parkway High 2014 quarterback. Camp performances have played no small role in why he's gone from being a relative unknown to the fastest-rising player in the ESPN 300 who will soon choose a college out of a who's-who list of suitors.

If you saw Harris in December, you saw a skinny quarterback who had offers from the likes of Louisiana Tech and McNeese State, but had the potential to be so much more. Look now and you see a more physically mature player who's the No. 48 player in the ESPN 150, the nation's No. 2-ranked dual-threat quarterback and a prospect who will pick from the likes of Ohio State, Auburn, Alabama and LSU when he makes his announcement July 18.

How did he come so far, so fast?

He's stuck to the plan.

Harris calls his father a "genius" and said he would follow his plan any day.

For the full story, check out ESPN's GeauxTigerNation Insider.

Gary Laney | email

Reporter, GeauxTigerNation