SEC school hires Georgia football coaching legend to recruit the state’s football talent

Will hiring LaGrange High's Steve Pardue help Kentucky's recruiting efforts in Georgia?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Kentucky is one of many SEC schools that has successfully invaded the state of Georgia to lure away some of the top high school football players.

Kentucky recently made a bold — and many call “brilliant” hiring — to further establish its popularity among Georgia’s high school coaches. The Wildcats recruited and signed up longtime LaGrange High coach Steve Pardue as an assistant.

Pardue will coach Kentucky’s running backs and, perhaps more importantly, help recruit players from Georgia. Pardue is well known in the state’s coaching circles after leading LaGrange to three state championships in 17 seasons. He voluntarily stepped down from the position last month and was quickly offered a college job.

“One thing that I wanted to do is hire someone that could recruit the southern part of Georgia and also had some Kentucky ties,” Kentucky coach Joker Phillips told

Steve Pardue: Coming to a school near you soon (AJC file)

Steve Pardue: Coming to a school near you soon (AJC file)

“Coach Pardue has been on the Georgia High School Coaches Association for a number of years and was a perfect fit for what we were looking for.

“We think that Georgia is really important for us and we wanted to branch out and get into the southern part of Georgia. He brings that to us and also has strong ties here in Kentucky being a high school player and coach here at Kentucky.”

It’s the first college job for Pardue, who was born in Kentucky. However, it may already feel a little like home with six former LaGrange football players on Kentucky’s current roster.

“I’m at a point in my career where I kind of felt like I needed a little recharge, to be honest with you,” Pardue told the website. “I had been doing high school football for 26 years. A lot of people thought, well, you ought to stay four more and you can retire.  That was tempting, but my wife and I have been talking about this for about a year.

“My mom passed in January, which kind of clouded some things. This came along and I decided you only live once. It’s a chance to coach in the SEC and in my home state. That means a lot to me, the University of Kentucky does.”

Now it’s YOUR turn. What is your opinion of the hiring?

45 comments Add your comment


December 28th, 2010
2:04 am


December 28th, 2010
7:05 am

KY wants to do better in South Georgia. Time to step it up also down South, UGA. The wolves are at the door!


December 28th, 2010
7:50 am

Kentucky? if he had gone to a real SEC football school I might be worried.


December 28th, 2010
8:29 am

I agree, brilliant move by Joker Phillips.

You UGA guys do not knock KY, they are moving up and you are moving down and you will probably spend the next ten years sitting side by side in the SEC East rankings.


December 28th, 2010
8:42 am

Recruiting S Ga will steal from the Florida schools, UGA lost that turf 5 years ago.


December 28th, 2010
8:59 am

UGASlobberknocker……haha, what has your team done lately? Lots to boast about huh?

Don’t worry though, your program is fine…….:)…Don’t change a thing.


December 28th, 2010
9:48 am

I think it helps them, but Georgia will still get the better players until Kentucky proves they can beat Tennessee.. plus anyone who comes to Georgia knows they’ve got a really good QB to play with. Kentucky shouldn’t expect to pry to many 4-star recruits away until they manage to beat Georgia more consistently (and not just when Joe Cox hands the game to them).


December 28th, 2010
9:50 am

All of UK’s player salaries go to the basketball program. If they are not paying in the $200k range to the players’ parents, then they will not be able to compete for the best players.


December 28th, 2010
9:59 am

lol @ Joe…that’s funny right there


December 28th, 2010
10:41 am

No big deal..If Kentucky starts beating us on players we really want-Then we’re in big trouble!


December 28th, 2010
11:04 am

KY can’t get UGA’s recruits in south Georgia. We don’t have any. Actually, we don’t have that many anywhere this year – no commitments in over 4 months.

Wake up, McGarity, cause Richt sure isn’t.

6-6, and “no staff changes.”


December 28th, 2010
11:15 am

I think this hurts Tech more then UGA, most of the big time recruits on paper are looking at UGA, FLA, BAMA, FSU, AUBURN, TENN, USC, etc, then you have Kentucky, Ga Tech at that next level. They generally go for same class of players. Cool they all are coached up in collage and turn out the same. Kentucky and Tech have proven they can play with UGA types on the field the last couple of years.


December 28th, 2010
11:34 am

There’s been a LaGrange pipeline to Kentucky for years, and that probably doesn’t change. But even at that, even the top LaGrange players (Tray Blackmon, John Johnson, Vince Sutton going way back!) don’t go to Kentucky.

I don’t think this hire really makes much difference. Kentucky has about as much chance of pulling 5-star football players out of Georgia as we do pulling 5-star basketball players out of Kentucky. No disrespect to the Wildcats at all… but they are a basketball school and we’re a football school. Its a matter of where you put your emphasis.

And yes, I know both teams finished 6-6. Not the point. How many Georgia high school football stars grow up wanting to play for Kentucky?

johnny too good

December 28th, 2010
11:37 am

Tell him to head down to savannah, he can scoop up some of these good players uga and tech are missing out on

Dekalb County

December 28th, 2010
12:07 pm

UGASlobberknocker and worm why do you think UGA players are so great. UGA is supposed to be recruiting the top talent every and it get them nothing. its not about how many you recruit its about who you recruit. if you are selective you dont have as many bust as UGA does. i just read a blog about caleb king being a bust you won that recruiting war and what did it get you. nothing buford wins state championship after state championship uga gets their garbage none of the buford kid even play at UGA. Mark my words Kentucky will contend in the SEC by 2012. remember these names raymond sanders demarco robinson ronnie shields jabari johnson. All are dekalb product that UGA didnt want. lets see if they want them by 2012


December 28th, 2010
1:00 pm

@ Dekalb county,

Is that you Corey? Hows your brother Eric? You guys did an amazing job in getting kids on scholarships last year over there. Go Dragons!

Dawg Fan in Grayson

December 28th, 2010
1:15 pm

Hiring Steve Pardue will not make that big of difference in the state of Georgia. Trust me. UK will still sign 3 or 4 Georgia FB recruits every year and not one will be more than 3-star recruit.


December 28th, 2010
1:24 pm

Last time I looked LaGrange was in West Central Georgia how does that equate to South Georgia.

Pardue The Excuse Maker

December 28th, 2010
1:43 pm

Steve Pardue took over a winning program and won with talent that was coached by some very good middle school, and recreation program coaches. He refused to fire an Offensive Coordinator because the guy was connected to the Superintendents office and it showed the past 4 years. Pardue spent more time arguing with officials and his teams were some of the most penalized teams in the state.
We all hope he does well at Kentucky and beats some SEC East teams, but Pardue’t time is LaGrange had come and gone. There were all americans walking the hallways of LaGrange and they never saw the field. We all hope Branch ditches the WING T and goes to a spread offense. Throw the ball around and many of the six footers walking the hallways will want to play wideout and catch passes.

Next thing on the agenda is to rid the Basketball team of its pathetic coach and bring in a real basketball coach.


December 28th, 2010
2:10 pm

Here we go again……every move is bad for Tech and nothing is bad for UGA. Tech is rolling down hill like snowball headed for Hades and everything is great in Athens. You UGA leg humpers kill me. I have never seen or heard from a bunch with more rose colored glasses than you. Kentucky is a better football team tha UGA right now….today…sad but true.


December 28th, 2010
2:29 pm

Y’all just keep that recruiting trophy, UGA. A lot of good it’s done you! Remember this: “Why is it that during recruiting season they sign all the great players, but when it comes time to play the game, we have all the great players? I don’t understand that. What happens to them?”


December 28th, 2010
3:04 pm

yawn…. this will make absolutely no difference whatsoever. High School kids don’t know Steve Pardue from Steve Martin. If he is a great recruiter then it will make a slight difference. I have met Steve Pardue and the guess here is that he is no great recruiter.


December 28th, 2010
3:10 pm

HAHAHA I dont think hiring Steve Pardue is gonna persuade kids to come to Kentucky. His teams the last few years have struggled to make it past the 1st round. Not to mention I dont know of any recruit worth a dime that wants to leave the state of Georgia to play for a program that is looked at as “the other sports team” on campus. Last I remember, Marcus Thornton was a lock to head to Kentucky, then a few days before signing day UGA comes knocking and steals him away…don’t think steve pardue is gonna keep that from happening any time soon.

Rick S

December 28th, 2010
3:27 pm

Does Mark Richt or Rodney Gardner have any relationships with the Georgia High School Head Coaches? It sure does not appear they do with all the recruits that are leaving the state to play for other schools. I just do not understand it!


December 28th, 2010
3:53 pm

Tennessee fans said the same thing(no big deal, UK cant get any good recruits from us) when we hired Randy Sanders.

Randall Cobb disagrees!


December 28th, 2010
4:23 pm

I’ve never even heard of this guy– and neither have the vast majority of 16 and 17-year olds in Georgia. But most of them know who Mark Richt and Rodney Garner are– you can bet on that!


December 28th, 2010
4:29 pm

Hey ‘taco,” Georgia Tech just lost to Air Force! Tech is 1-5 in their last six games and lost six bowl games in a row. Take this statement to the bank: You will NEVER play for a national championship again. And now that Chan Gailey’s players have gone, Tech is sinking fast. While Paul Johnson won at the 1-AA level and at Navy– their opponents didn’t have the talent at LB or CB that the top ACC and SEC teams possess. The ONLY thing Tech can guarantee is they will be subordinate to a larger program to the East.


December 28th, 2010
5:07 pm

Is Lagrange in South Georgia? Not in my book…………….


December 28th, 2010
5:38 pm

WOW now if you said David Green or Bo Jackson I would be scared, but the big recruits look at the school not the recruiter unless the school has no history, then you may get a two or a three star that has to wait to play.

Paul in RDU

December 28th, 2010
6:12 pm

I had to check on Google maps to see if there was another LaGrange, GA than the one I am familiar with – nops, still the one near I-85, SW of Atlanta. Not what I would call South GA.
Does LaGrange have a couple of highly ranked players coming through?
Duke hired the HC from Independence HS Charlotte in Spring 2004 to be QB coach but that didn’t work out the way they intended – his star QB signed with UGA instead.


December 28th, 2010
6:30 pm

I’m a Kentucky fan, but this will not add any value at all. This is a case of who you know, not what you know. Best of luck, but do not see this being long term.


December 28th, 2010
7:16 pm

I think UK is definitely on the rise, and Joker is shaking up HIS program to make it better. He has almost completely changed the UK staff the past two years, and not only is he getting better coaches but there has been a heavy emphasis on better recruiters, starting with Tee Martin, who just got a two year extension.

Most fans don’t realize the job UK’s coaches have done just to stay competitive in the SEC, and that definitely includes a lot of UK fans. UK played seven SEC opponents that AVERAGED 39 four star commits over the past four years, Georgia had 48. That isn’t counting the FIVE stars like Newton, Demps, Julio, Jeffreys and Lattimore, Green, etc, Florida alone had 15 of them in the last four years. Vandy had no four stars, and UK had one full time starter on O and one part time starter on D, both JCs from California. It is incredible to me that they could beat USC and take the probable NC to the last second field goal. The stars on this years team included Cobb who was a two star before a late offer by Tennessee, and Trevathan (both All Americans), Locke, and a half dozen other two stars that were starters this year. They also lost two starters on D just before the season to grades and had a terrible year with turnovers, as you saw in the Georgia game.

UK in the last five years had 18, 18, 11, 8, 8, and ZERO (so far, with none expected) in this years commits. See a trend?

time for change

December 28th, 2010
7:49 pm

It was and still is time for change at LaGrange HS .The “good old boy club” has run aground and it reflected on the field this year.There is an attitude of arrogance within the athletic department. That is why you don’t see the talent at LaGrange HS on the field.


December 28th, 2010
7:56 pm

Congrats to Coach Pardue and his family on his new coaching position with Kentucky. Sometimes it is more about the wins and the loses, and UK is gaining a person of character.
As for “high school” wannabe coaches. Why degrade Coach Pardue and the b-ball coach. If you’re a great coach on the community level, get your degree, get your teaching certificate, become an assistant coach and prove yourself. Without the degree, certificate, your opportunity won’t come. You can complain but your ignorance of what it takes to even be a high school coach just proves why you’re not…bottom line “Pardue, the excuse maker”, you’re the person making the excuses. Get your butt in gear and prove yourself.

Hit A Single

December 28th, 2010
9:18 pm

Good hire by Kentucky – Class guy!


December 28th, 2010
10:46 pm

@ WhataJoke…

What are you talking about?

Marcus Thornton plays basketball not football. This article is about football. Thornton was origanlly going to Clemson. Clemson’s coach left so, Thorton did not want to go to Clemson anymore. UK came into the picture after Thornton opened up his recruitment again. He did not want to come to UK because he said himself he was afraid of getting recruited over at UK and UGA was close to home. I feel bad for the alum’s from UGA. UGA has so many redneck know it all fans that never went to UGA or any college for that matter.

Native Atlantan

December 28th, 2010
11:59 pm

Good grief…..I don’t think the UGA fans or the mindless UGA haters know UK’s intentions. UK knows they are not going to land 4 and 5 star players from this state unless it’s one of the rare family type situations when they got Mo Williams whose dad was in Kentucky. They would like to get a bigger handful of the three star guys because a lot of those from the Peach State turn out to be pretty good, and a few 2 star guys turned into something.

Brice Hunter, David Pollack and Thomas Davis were not highly rated, but they turned out ok.

Kentucky will more than likely be going head to head on GA Highschool talent with Tech, Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas and the Mississippi schools.

There are a lot of pretty good players in GA that will develop into significant NCAA players and Phillips probably likes his chances in getting 3 or 4 more of those guys than usual.

THE Tech Man

December 29th, 2010
12:35 am

Man, I’m fired up about Tech football. We’ve lost six bowl games in a row, but atleast we aren’t playing bowl games in Boise or West Coast baseball parks. We are 1-9 against UGA in the last ten but we outgained the Dogs this year so I’m so PROUD we had pins made for our players for that game. Heck, I think we should have had trophies made.

All my Tech pals and me really know the Tech program, but we actually know Georgia’s program better because we are always more concerned about them than we are about ourselves. Just listen to our fight songs.

Now we have all offseason to make, I mean engineer, excuses and continue building hatred toward those Georgia fans and alumni.

Oh well, time to get the mullet trimmed and update my tacky Florida gear of wife beater shirts and jean shorts while I try impersonating a Gator along with a bunch of my Tech friends. We all just love all our posters of Tim Tebow.


December 29th, 2010
12:39 am

TO Super B I have got something to say to you……….If and when you get hearing aids, and walk a mile or two in this man’s shoes …..just keep your mouth closed…..E’NUF SAID.


December 29th, 2010
12:44 am

And By The Way………To Everybody….This is not a Georgia…….Georgia Topic…….It was about a very successful high school coach , and how he is going to try his best to recruit good players for the University of Kentucky…….I for one , find no fault in that at all. So, If you must grip…the go some where else . Most of us do not want to hear this.

You Read It Here

December 29th, 2010
3:23 pm

Vad Lee (5 Star) named AP NC prep player of the year. Next years QB for the Yellow Jackets.

Comets Comment

December 29th, 2010
8:49 pm

Tucker Carlson is GAY


December 30th, 2010
2:25 pm

Oops, just noticed an omission that made my last point pointless, UK has had 18, 18, 11, 8, 8, and ZERO so far this year (with none expected) TWO STAR commits over the past six years. Notice a trend? The effects of probation still affects this years team, the 06 class that should have furnished important fifth year senior leaders lost the only three star player left from the class on the team in Hartline and two star Lumpkins is the only senior left from the class, only because he had to redshirt because of an injury. Only two seniors from the 06 class are left. The UK coaches will soon be working with mostly three star talent when they have mostly been working with two star talent before, EIGHT two stars starting on D this year according to Rivals. AND they are starting to get a few four stars and SEC recruits with offers from SEC schools, none of the 16 from Georgia presently on the team had an offer from Richt.

Telling the Truth

December 31st, 2010
12:11 am

Aloha…who are you a relative of Steves?

Pardue did little to nothing during his time in LaGrange with the talent that was a “gift” to him from some very outstanding coaches in middle school. He should have fired Traylor or forced Traylor out years ago. The defense carried this team for years and now the talent is now at Troup and Callaway.
Get your head out of the sand and say thank you for a guy whose time in LaGrange was up many years ago. Ask any official and they will tell you he was so worried about what calls were going against him that his teams took over his personality and were undisciplined and it cost LaGrange some very important games the past 3 years

Billigflug London Hannover

March 27th, 2012
4:15 pm

Trouble Share,behaviour push provided politics soon later present operation drawing leg bedroom enjoy construction potential select line happen procedure page seat partly for major safe arise little today something speak motor black entire detailed no-one environmental essential object cross organise task critical software coal corner bloody notice signal reason state think parent anything station exchange deal book moment memory mouth pupil lawyer tea character exist supply boat guest publish home previous complete army rate imply fair transfer half award friend magazine observe ready sense corner hand somebody piece employer kind on southern official