ELIZABETHTOWN — Back in August, John Hardin defensive lineman Matt Elam was so excited to receive his official scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky that he wanted to tweet a picture of it.
One problem: The letter included UK Coach Mark Stoops’ personal cell phone number.
Elam gave the letter to a friend and asked him to scan it and black out the phone number before posting it online.
“He forgot to do it,” Elam said.
The full letter was posted, Stoops’ phone number and all. Once Elam realized the mistake, he immediately deleted the post and contacted the UK head coach to say he was sorry.
“I told Coach Stoops and he was like, ‘C’mon, man!'” Elam said.
It was too late.
“He called me later and said that he got so many prank calls and stuff,” Elam said. “I said, ‘Are you mad?’ He said, ‘No, I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.’ He said that he needed a Lexington number anyway.”
A few days later, Stoops had a new phone number and a special message for his top recruiting target.
“He told me, ‘Don’t let this phone number get out,'” Elam said.
The remorseful recruit apologized again.
“I’m just kidding,” Stoops told him.
Elam can laugh about it now, and that sums up his relationship with Stoops and the UK coaching staff.
“I feel like I can talk to him about anything,” Elam said. “And I like that from a head coach. I can just go and talk to him about how my day went or something. It’s not about the game we played or my stats or anything. … I love the whole staff at UK.”
Elam told the Herald-Leader that he communicates with offensive coordinator Neal Brown — his lead recruiter — pretty much every day. He speaks to Stoops twice a week. Brown tells him that he needs talented in-state players like him to be the “cornerstone” of UK football.
UK fans apparently feel the same way. After his unofficial visit for the UK-Louisville game last month, Elam tweeted that he feels like “the president” every time he comes to Lexington.
“It’s just crazy, because everybody’s shouting my name and saying how much they want to me to come there and how I’m a hero and stuff,” Elam said. “To a teenager, that feels good. Just being wanted and everybody knowing your name. It’s very exciting to hear that from people.”
The 6-foot-6 prospect will be back in Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday for an unofficial visit to see the UK-Alabama game. The Cats and Crimson Tide are two of the favorites in his recruitment, but the result of this one game won’t have much of an impact on Elam’s final decision.
He knows UK has a long way to go before they can be expected to knock off the No. 1 team in the country.
“I don’t see Kentucky pulling out a big victory over Alabama or anything like that,” he said. “Things aren’t going to change overnight. I just want to see how the feel is and how the coaching staff acts that day.”