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Arien Beasley is a standout running back who’ll have some options as to where he plays in college.
Beasley, a North Oldham senior, is being recruited by a wide variety of schools across several levels and conferences. But some of his best options may be within the state, where he’s been in constant contact with coaches from the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville.
“It would mean the absolute world to me to play for Louisville or UK,” Beasley, who scored 27 touchdowns in 13 games last year for the Mustangs, said.
Some of the commonwealth’s top college football programs seem to be listening to local athletes who want a chance to prove themselves within Kentucky’s borders.
UK signed four in-state prospects in its 2014 signing class, including highly-touted players Drew Barker (Conner) and Matt Elam (John Hardin).
Western Kentucky signed 10 prospects from the Bluegrass this year. That included Collins standouts DeAndre Farris and Masai Whyte, who helped the Titans go 3-0 against Oldham County schools last year on their way to a state title.
Louisville signed just one in-state prospect in 2014, Trinity’s Reggie Bonnafon. But that could change in future years with coach Bobby Petrino’s staff’s local ties.
First-year WKU coach Jeff Brohm said going after in-state talent makes sense for Kentucky’s college programs.
“We can build our program around the best players we can get around the state,” Brohm told the Era last week. “...You make sure you build the team around those guys and you continue to recruit guys from down south that compliment them. Then you’re going to have a great chance of winning.”
Beasley’s coach, Billy Martin, said talent has improved in the state during recent years. Martin said that the KHSAA’s decision to allow spring practice more than a decade ago was a big positive for in-state football looking to play on the next level.
“Year in and year out we still have more Division I football players in the state than we do basketball,” Martin said. “We’re supposed to be a basketball state. The numbers would say otherwise.”
He encourages his players to look at in-state schools, whether they are on the level of a UK, U of L or WKU or on some of the lower levels like a Centre or Lindsey Wilson.
Former North lineman Austin Metcalfe and South linebacker Shane Smith will both be freshmen playing for Centre this fall.
“I think that’s the more logical thing because those schools care about them more,” Martin said of in-state schools.
Brohm said that when he or one of his assistants sit down with an in-state prospect, they pitch them on the chance to play college football not far from friends and family.
“If you read the LeBron James (Sports Illustrated) letter about why he came back to Cleveland, really that’s what it’s all about,” said Brohm, a former Trinity star. “We want guys that take a lot of pride in a winning program in their state, around guys they played with, around family and friends that know about them and care about the university.
“When you get people that really are committed to that degree, I think they’re going to work harder and do better and then they’re going to recruit other people to do the same thing.”
That’s the kind of impact Beasley said he’s hoping he can make for an in-state school.
He keeps in regular contact with UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown and U of L running backs coach Kolby Smith. Both have expressed interest in Beasley playing for one of those programs next season.
“As long as I get a scholarship to play somewhere it’ll be fine,” he said. “But it’s always been my dream to play for Louisville. I don’t really want to go too far away from home.”
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