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January 30, 2014
Elam hopes commitment sparks UK turnaround
Matt Elam called Kentucky football commit Drew Barker to break some fake news.ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. -- On Wednesday,
Elam, the John Hardin High School defensive tackle, would be attending Alabama, not going to Kentucky with quarterback Barker.
"Please don't get mad," Elam said he told Barker.
Barker insisted he'd support Elam no matter what college choice he made.
"I was like, 'Nah, I'm just kidding. I'm going to UK,'" Elam said Thursday, after announcing what he'd told Kentucky coach Mark Stoops two days ago, that he'll play his college football for the Wildcats. "(Barker) got excited. He was like, 'We got to change this thing.' I told him we're definitely gonna change it."
Kentucky may never have been better-armed to change its future football fortunes than with the commitments of Barker and Elam, a 6-foot-6 defensive tackle who currently tips the scales at about 380 pounds.
Barker, a four-star talent and Rivals.com's No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2014, picked the Wildcats last May over South Carolina. Elam, a three-star in the Rivals rankings, picked UK over Alabama, a program that Elam himself on Thursday called "the Mecca of football."
"I feel like UK never had those great players," Elam said. "I feel like it's finally gonna start coming to them, just them having the great players they need to get the program started."
Barker and Elam can sign with the Wildcats next Wednesday on National Signing Day.
Elam's commitment is perhaps the biggest -- and presumably the last -- of the big splashes in Stoops' second UK recruiting class. With 28 players committed, the Wildcats have completed the class, currently ranked 13th in Rivals' 2014 class rankings.
"The most important thing here is the fact that Alabama and Notre Dame came into the state of Kentucky where they'd normally be able to just pick and choose and they were beaten back," Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell said. "I think that's the biggest news out of this."
Though Rivals ranks Elam only the fifth-best prospect in Kentucky, he has generated considerable debate among recruiting analysts. By his own admission, Elam needs to lose weight before he arrives at Kentucky.
"I think Matt Elam obviously has a lot of work to do to be an impact college football player," Farrell said. "I think once he's ready to play, which is not going to be right away, you'll see them maybe run some 3-4 sets and sort of use him on the nose. Or if he does work a three technique in a 4-3 he's going to be hard to get around. More than his talent it's the message it sends. They can say they can keep top kids in state even if Alabama wants them."
Elam is aware that's the message he sent in choosing UK.
He said that he's "100 percent committed" to the Wildcats and won't waver if Alabama comes calling again.
"I feel like that's one of the main reasons why I stayed is just to help out my home-state program, because to have a good program you need great players," Elam said. "And it has to start with those in-state kids just to be the cornerstone of that. So I feel like me and Drew, we stayed home, and I feel like we're definitely gonna help out Coach Stoops and the UK program."