By LARRY VAUGHT
One extra benefit from having former Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard as the director of player development for the UK football team could be an uptick in in-state recruiting.
Kentucky did not have an in-state signee in its 2018 signing class. Three of the top five in-state players in the 2019 recruiting ranks — South Warren defensive lineman Jacob Lacey (Notre Dame), Trinity linebacker Stephen Herron (Michigan) and Scott County offensive lineman Bryan Hudson (Virginia Tech) — are already verbally committed to out of state schools.
Maggard will not directly be involved in recruiting but he’s well known across the state to high school coaches and players. His presence at UK could impact decisions in-state high school players make.
“Maybe coach (Mark) Stoops does not like the trend of UK football having trouble getting in-state players to commit,” former UK punter Jason Todd, an assistant coach at Lincoln County, said when asked about Maggard’s hire. “I know last season was the first time in over 70 years that UK football did not sign a player from the state of Kentucky.
“While Freddie was not hired as a recruiting coordinator, I think his presence will be beneficial when it comes to connecting the current UK program to the state’s players and coaches. I look forward to seeing the positive impact that Freddie will have on UK football.”
So does former UK player Grayson Smith. He’s glad current and former players will have someone to help “them transition to their professional life” and also serve as an advocate for the players.
“Obviously there is a recruiting caveat tied into the hire. Simply put, in-state recruiting has not gone well lately and Freddie will be able to provide ‘indirect’ support in that area probably without being counted against the coaching position allotment the way the NCAA counts,” Smith said. “So I would consider it a very creative and calculated shrewd move.”
So would I. It’s the type of creative thinking that UK basketball coach John Calipari does. No rule breaking, just taking advantage of a way to get an influential in-state presence on the football staff.
“Tell me what Mama and Daddy wouldn’t want a positive, disciplined man around their son. The quality character Freddie brings and his military background tell you all you need to know about what he would bring to the table,” former UK center David Hopewell, who came to UK from Alabama and was on the 10-1 1977 team, said.
“Freddie will also bring another set of eyes to the table on evaluating recruits and player breakdown on their progress. I believe the UK football staff loves and respects him already. More than anything I hope his winning thoughts and championship expectations will be contagious to every UK player and prospective player we bring in.”
Maggard sept 13 years with the National Guard as the community relations and outreach liaison. He also managed the Kentucky National Guard recruiting command’s marketing and advertising department for three years.