After weeks of speculation that Mike Stoops would be joining the Kentucky football staff, Mark Stoops surprised many when the head coach decided to promote fellow Youngstown, Ohio native Frank Buffano just before the start of spring football in 2020.
A high school classmate of Stoops and Vince Marrow at Cardinal Mooney, Buffano spent seven seasons as Kentucky’s director of football operations from 2013-19. The former graduate assistant at Arizona and three-year assistant at FCS Youngstown State spent a long-time in an off-field role. Therefore, no one was sure how Buffano would fit into the recruiting equation.
Well, the safeties coach is going all-in on the Show-Me State.
Buffano has been active in the state of Missouri as Kentucky looks to build relationships in both the metro areas of Kansas City and St. Louis. The Wildcats were involved with four-star defensive lineman Marquis Gracial and three-star offensive lineman Tristan Wilson early before each pledged to Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri football program. However, there are two more big fish that the Wildcats are after.
Quinton Conley is a hybrid tight end that ranks just outside of the top-400 in the 247 Sports Composite Rating. Conley is scheduled to visit Lexington next weekend while Nebraska is still very much involved in the recruitment for the Kansas City, Mo., native. Buffano has been slowly chipping away at Conley.
“I would say that Kentucky and Nebraska are the ones that I’ve had the most amount of phone calls with,” Conley told KSR earlier in his recruitment. “I’ve talked to Coach Buffano a couple of times. They really like me at the tight end position with my frame. That’s mainly something he’s been stressing.”
Jason Essex is a mid three-star receiver also out of Kansas City, Mo., who will also be visiting Kentucky next weekend. The 6-foot-3 receiver also has visits scheduled to both Colorado and Iowa State in June. Kansas City (Mo.) Winnetonka head coach Benny Palmer confirmed with KSR that Buffano has done a really good job recruiting Essex.
This recruiting trend is not just stopping in 2022. Looking ahead to the class of 2023, North Kansas City (Mo.) High’s Edric Hall, Troy (Mo.) Buchanan’s Jahkai Lang, and St. Charles (Mo.) Duchesne’s Jamond Mathis now all have offers from Kentucky with Buffano spearheading the recruiting efforts.
The loss of assistant Steve Clinkscale to Michigan meant that Kentucky could likely be losing a pipeline that was built in Detroit. However, Buffano could be building a new pipeline for Kentucky to take advantage of in Missouri.