James Hatcher flips commitment from USC to Kentucky, ‘Cats land big time DE

Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops spoke to reporters during a press conference at the Nutter Field House. (Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)

The recruiting mess continues for Lane Kiffin and his USC football program. Only hours after losing four-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to Florida State, the Trojans have lost yet another four-star defensive player.

Defensive end Jason Hatcher, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound native of Louisville, has chosen to stay home and suit up for Kentucky rather than head out to Hollywood.

It is rare for a player so young and so big to run a 4.7 40-yard dash, but the speed provides Hatcher with a unique blend of disruptive pass rushing ability as well a fantastic pursuit of quarterbacks and running backs.

That being said, the ripples of Hatcher’s decision extend far beyond the young man himself. After spending decades as the doormat of SEC football, Mark Stoops has taken over as head coach after turning a brutal Florida State defensive unit into one of the best in the nation.

Bringing Hatcher aboard proves that potential defensive stars want to play for Stoops, and it proves that he can recruit at a basketball school like Kentucky is. Charlie Weis over at Kansas should put down the burger and pay attention.

USC coach Kiffin should probably pick up a note pad as well. After opening the 2012 season as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, his Trojans quickly tumbled out of the top 25 altogether. He embarrassed the program several times along the way, having to deal with a deflated football fiasco, changing players’ jerseys at halftime and straight up ditching Georgia Tech at a Sun Bowl banquet hosting both teams.

After losing to a Yellow Jackets squad that had to petition the NCAA just to be invited to a postseason game, USC became the first team in decades to open the year at No. 1 and eventually lose six games.

If Kentucky were to only lose six games in 2013, it would be a step in the right direction.

But that is exactly what bringing in a player of Hatcher’s potential is: A step in the right direction for Stoops’ program.

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