Vince Marrow’s one year as Springfield High School’s football coach offered a crash-course in relationship building and management.
He’s utilized as one of the University of Kentucky’s main assistant coaches and arguably the Wildcats’ top recruiter.
The Ohio native, who is attempting to help Kentucky and first-year coach Mark Stoops become a serious player in the Southeastern Conference, approaches his latest position by making use of what he learned as a Blue Devils coach.
Four years removed from when he served as Springfield’s coach for the 2009 season, Marrow said the brief time working under principal Steve Gwin was beneficial.
“He [Gwin] really prepared me for going back to work in college with the opportunity that he gave me,” said Marrow, who also served as an in-school suspension supervisor during the 2009-10 school year. “He prepared me for where I’m at now. I learned to deal with new things, new students, budget cuts, different communities.
“I learned to deal with athletic directors in colleges, parents, other high school athletic directors. Springfield showed me how to embrace the process. The competitor in me wanted to win now. We were in a lot of close games, and we won some games.”
The Blue Devils finished 3-7 during his one season. Kentucky finished 2-10 in 2012, which led to UK hiring Marrow’s childhood friend from Youngstown, Stoops, in an effort to try and turn the longtime SEC cellar-dweller into a contender in the nation’s top conference.
Marrow, an assistant the past two years at Nebraska, was the second coach named to Stoops’ staff. Recognized for his ties to Ohio, Marrow’s job involves making inroads in recruiting for top Ohio talent.
“His diverse experiences as a coach and NFL player will be invaluable to our players and our program,” Stoops said in a statement earlier this year. “He is a great recruiter, especially with his outstanding connections in Ohio.”
Marrow, a standout tight end at the University of Toledo before being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1992, is making progress in Ohio.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in the state of Ohio, and it really has helped in recruiting,” Marrow said.
He’s done his part to help Kentucky’s 2014 recruiting class receive the kind of praise and admiration generally directed toward the Kentucky men’s basketball team.
The Wildcats are ranked as high as No. 3 nationally and No. 2 in the SEC by Rivals.com, a national recruiting Web site. Only Tennessee (No. 1) and Texas (No. 2) are ranked higher nationally for 2014. The Wildcats are ranked No. 13 nationally and No. 6 in the SEC by 247 Sports, another recruiting Web site.
Marrow, who can’t speak specifically about any potential recruits, is being credited with eight of the 19 verbal commitments. All eight are from Ohio, including Lima’s Darius West, a 5-foot-11, 196-pound cornerback who is one of three four-star Ohio players who verbally committed to Kentucky.
The Wildcats are going after players that typically have had Big Ten schools like Ohio State and Michigan high on their list.
“I have a lot of respect for the Big Ten. I was in the Big Ten,” Marrow said. “But you have to be honest, every kid wants to play against the best, and the proof is in the pudding. The SEC is the best conference.”
A school from the SEC has claimed the BCS championship the past seven seasons.
After serving two years as an assistant under Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini, a childhood friend and former high school teammate at Cardinal Mooney, Marrow felt he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He will continue recruiting in Ohio.
However, he lives much closer to his home state than when he lived in Lincoln, Neb.
IHe knows the distances from Lexington to Cincinnati (84 miles), Lexington to Dayton (137 miles), Lexington to Columbus (191 miles), and Lexington to Toledo (287 miles) better than he knows his way around Lexington.
“I don’t think they realized Kentucky was that close to them,” he said. “I’m bridging that gap.”