More than anything else, the one thing Rich Brooks felt Kentucky lacked when he took over the program five years ago was speed.
The Wildcats might not be at the level of fellow Southeastern Conference schools Florida or Georgia, but Brooks thinks his surging program is making inroads, calling the 20 players who signed a letter of intent to play for Kentucky on Wednesday the fastest class he's brought to Lexington.
"I think it continues to bring us to SEC levels in speed and athletic ability," Brooks said.
Coming off consecutive Music City Bowl victories also opened some doors that were previously closed to the Wildcats.
"The bowls have shown that if you come to Kentucky, it's not going to be hopeless," he said. "By winning, we've eliminated some of the negatives said about our program."
The class includes five players with quarterback experience. While it's unlikely any of the five signees could play right away, it might not take some of them long to get on the field. Brooks compared several of the newcomers to former wide receiver Keenan Burton, who came to Kentucky as a quarterback before being moved outside.
"The numbers crunch will take care of itself," Brooks said. "Some of them will perform better at practice than others, and then the others will move to whatever position we can get them on the field the fastest, whether it be receiver or defensive back."
The Wildcats signed five players from within the state, including defensive back Winston Guy from Lexington Catholic and wide receiver Aaron Boyd from Henry Clay High, who spurned offers from more established football schools to stay close to home.
"I think it speaks volumes," Brooks said. "The upgrading of the facilities, the improvement on the field that both of these players were able to turn (down) other SEC schools ... is significant. This will do a lot in helping us continue to climb the ladder in the SEC."
The Wildcats also plucked offensive linemen Matt Smith and Dave Ulinski from high schools in Louisville.
"It's a significant step that in-state, we were able to get quite a few top players that we wanted to get," Brooks said.