WKU volleyball 2014 season primer

The Western Kentucky volleyball team opens the 2014 season Friday against California, Riverside in Las Vegas. Here are some comments about the Lady Toppers from coach Travis Hudson and senior Heather Boyan.

Travis Hudson

About the 2014 team? “Youth. Youth is the first thing that pops out. We have a roster of 12 kids and five of them are freshmen and are about two weeks into their college volleyball lives and we have to go play this week. It’s an exciting group, it really is. I’m as rejuvenated and looking forward to this season as I have any in a long time because the talent is there.

“We’re really a talented group and they’re a hard-working group. And we are anchored by some really, really good upperclassmen as well. It’s a when, not if, with this group. This is going to be a really good team. How long that will take remains to be seen.”

Playing in a new conference: “It’s new, and not much can be new when you’re 20 years in. It’s new for me and I’m excited about that as well. But there’s just so many unknowns, there’s so many unknowns when you have five freshmen and you’re gonna lean on ‘em pretty heavily.

“But certainly the unknowns really get greater when you’re moving into a league that you haven’t been a part of.”

Freshmen: “They’re still young and dumb, for lack of a better term, but they’re just really gifted. I’ve been very, very pleased with ‘em. They’re a very talented group, but you just can’t rush it. (Boyan) is sitting beside me, we were talking about her the other day, her freshman year. (Boyan’s) a player of the year candidate now in her senior year, but as a freshman, she stood and watched most of the year. Sometimes you just have to be patient a little bit.

“But it’s a really, really talented group and we’ll see. We’ll have the talent – this is kind of what I’ve been telling people, ‘We’ll have the talent to beat anyone on our schedule and we’ll have the vulnerability to lose to anybody on our schedule.’ That’s just where we are right now.”

Noelle Langenkamp: “I feel like we have one of the best tandems of middle hitters in the country. To put it in perspective, prior to last season, we had had one middle hitter hit .400 in a season in the history of our program and that was Megan Argabright who was a four-time All-American, and last year both (Boyan and Langenkamp) hit over .400 in the same season.

“We feel like we have two really, really accomplished middle hitters. I’m really excited for (Langenkamp) to get that recognition, but I think (Langenkamp) and (Boyan) would both tell you, I think either one of those kids could be a player of the year candidate by the end of the year.

“They both push each other every day and get better playing against each other every day and really help each other every day. We feel very fortunate to be experienced and talented in the middle hitter position.”

Setter position: “It’s going to be truly a team effort to replace (Ashley Potts). She is a special talent and no one player is going to step in and give us everything that she did. We’re trying to mask it. Georgia O’Connell and Kaelin Grimes have been in a real dogfight for the libero position throughout preseason. I think there’s the real potential to see both of those kids wearing the libero jersey for awhile early in the year.

“But I think watching us practice, I think the way we’ll make up for (Potts) is just by our overall size and athleticism in the back row. We’re making a lot of plays in the back row right now just off being long and athletic. So hopefully our coverage is better, we’re covering more ground back there with bigger, longer athletes and it’ll really soften the blow of losing a player of her caliber.”

Conference USA: “I talked to our team (Sunday), we kind of did some goal setting (Sunday), and every year we kind of put a theme together and our theme for this year is the word ‘respect.’ What that means, we’re kind of approaching Conference USA this year – there’s 13 teams that play volleyball in Conference USA – and we’re kind of approaching it as this is the 13th-best team.

“We’ve never played a part of this league and we don’t want anything given to us as part of this league. We’ll start at No. 13 and see how far we can work our way up throughout this season and figure out where we land at the end.”

Opening weekend: “I’m trying to get our kids – because we’ve been so dominant in the Sun Belt Conference the last few years and been in the top 25 for three straight years at some point, this is a different kind of an animal. When we sit around and talk about it, everyone wants to put a win total on it, or wins and losses.

“I’m trying to keep it simple with this group right now. What I want is for them to, almost, embrace the fact that things are gonna go wrong. It’s gonna happen. There’s no way around it. I don’t want them to be shaken by that, I don’t want them to be surprised by that, I want ‘em to embrace it a little bit.

“The two words I keep throwing at ‘em is competitive response. I want a competitive response to everything that happens. If we’re struggling in the middle of a match, I just want to respond competitively. If we lose a match we shouldn’t, I want to respond competitively. If we win a match we shouldn’t, I wanna come out the next day and respond competitively.

“If we do that and just get past the, ‘Oh my goodness I did something wrong,’ I think this team’s got a real chance. Wins and losses will be what they are for a little while, nothing would surpise me, good or bad. Nothing would surprise me because the talent is – I told a friend of mine this (Sunday), ‘Throughout the course of this year we’re gonna win two or three that will probably shock people and we’re probably gonna lose two or three that will probably shock people.’ That’s just the nature of it. But I’m just excited to get started with ‘em.”

Heather Boyan

Senior year: “I’m definitely really excited. I’m probably more excited than I’ve ever been for a season. It’s weird that it’s gone this fast already and here I am and it’s my last season. We definitely have a lot of talent this year and might have a young team, but I think we have a lot of potential to go far and do big things. I’m really excited.”

Conference USA: “Personally, I’ve kind of always liked being an underdog. It’s always nice to be able to go out there and be able prove yourself, instead of have that title before you at the start. I like it. I think we just need to go out there and earn our respect and show that we are capable of doing big things.”

Youth: “It’s definitely been a completely different atmosphere in the gym this year compared to last year because last year we had five seniors and this year we have five freshmen. It has been a lot of fun, just to see their talent and to see how good they really are and they’re all really fast learners. It just makes me even more excited for the season because I know even as the season progresses, they’re gonna get even better throughout. It should be good and it’s real exciting.

“I always learn things from my teammates and it’s good to have new talent out there and it’s always good to have fresh insight. It just makes me want to be a better leader for our team knowing that there’s so much youth on our team. I’m just trying to be the best that I can be, leadership-wise, for all of them and for the rest of the team.”

Leadership: “You have five people who are coming in and they don’t know the culture of our program or what we do here. It definitely puts more pressure on the uppoerclassmen to make sure that we set that example and let them know how we do things here. It’s give me and our fellow senior (Mollie Pajakowski), and the juniors, a lot to show them.”

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WKU offense preps for BGSU

Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Tyson Helton and senior quarterback Brandon Doughty talked after Tuesday’s practice at Houchens-Smith Stadium about facing Bowling Green State on Friday.

Tyson Helton
   BGSU: “Very good. Very solid, experienced group. They look like they play well together. They’ve done a lot of good things looking back on last year. They talk about they got some new guys in there, but they really don’t. They got a lot of guys that have played and had a lot of experience.
“We’ll have a fight on our hands. We’ll need to play well offensively, we’ll need to click on all cylinders. The guys are looking forward to it, I think they’re looking forward to that challenge. They’re ready to play a good football team and Bowling Green is a good football team.”

    Brandon Doughty’s camp: “Very good. Very good. I think he’s done a great job progressing from the spring until now, I think he’s ready to roll. He understands the offense, he’s mastered the offense, now it’s his time to go out there and put it all together.
“Being a senior quarterback, he’s been through the fire. He knows all the issues that come up with the game. I expect him to go out there, perform well, be a great leader for this team and I know he will.
“You look back last year and the four games how well he played, I expect him to continue on and play better this year.”

    Important to jump on BGSU early? “You know, here’s what you gotta do: You take care of the football. That’s what you do. You let the game take its natural process. If we get up early, great, but it’s a four-quarter game.
“We talk it about it all the time, ‘Offense, take care of the ball, manage the offense, your plays will come and when your number’s called make your plays. That’s all you gotta worry about.’ If you start thinking, ‘Hey I gotta go out there and make these plays and do something great, that’s when something bad happens.’
“They’ve been coached well, they’ve worked extremely hard and it’s just time to put it all together.”

Standouts in practice this week: “I think everybody has, I’ll be honest with you. You lock in, game week, everybody’s had that look in their eye, everybody’s been focused, everybody’s on board. I think everybody’s done a great job. I really can’t pick one guy out, to be quite honest with. I think they’re all ready and excited and ready to play.”

Brandon Doughty
    Looking back on this time last year: “Last year we had a lot of adversity and we had a lot of things that went up and went down. When it was up we were up, when it was down we were down. But going into this season I’m just really excited. Our team is really excited, our players are really excited so I’m just thinking about the future.”

    The offense: “We got a lot of weapons and I’m definitely excited about seeing how those guys respond on gameday. Everybody looks good in practice, but I’d love to how those guys respond on gameday.”

    Scoring on the BGSU defense: “We gotta be consistent. Everyone’s gotta play their role and everyone’s gotta understand it’s gotta take 11 guys. The guard’s gonna have to help me out and the guard’s gonna have to help the receivers out – those things are gonna have to roll for us. We’re gonna stay consistent throughout the whole game and just keep pushing.”

   Leadership: “When you go into a first game, everyone’s got little jitters, including myself, even though I’ve played a couple times. You definitely gotta be able to sit ‘em down and sit down with ‘em. I’ve sat with a couple of ‘em and sat with the new guys on the offensive line this week and we talked about not getting too high, not getting too low and just kinda staying level and calm throughout the whole game.”

    Playing at home: “We’re expecting a huge crowd and hope everyone shows up. Bowling Green’s gonna bring a couple people themselves, being not too far away. But yeah, I’m really excited coming out having our fan support here opening day kinda get us going the right page throughout the season.”

    Coaching staff: “They’ve put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks. And not just the quarterback, but everyone on the team. And I think that’s good, so the game’s easy. A lot of yelling, a lot of screaming, but those guys are so knowledgable of the game and understanding Xs and Os and why were calling things.
“Where last year I was kinda just worried about what we’re calling, rather than why we’re calling it. I think that’s the biggest difference between this year and last year.”

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Mondays with Jeff

Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm met with the media Monday for the first news conference. Senior cornerback Cam Thomas and senior wide receiver Willie McNeal also met with the media to discuss Friday’s game against Bowling Green.

Jeff Brohm
“It’s that time of the year, it’s definitely an exciting time for us, all of our players are looking forward to it. We’ve worked extremely hard throughout the summer, also in fall camp, and it’s definitely exciting to finally play an opponent.
“This first one we’re playing is an outstanding opponent. They’ve proven themselves last year. They have a lot of people coming back. They’re very senior-laden team, especially on defense. Also their quarterback and running back is back. Of course they’re picked to finish first in their conference.
“So it’ll be a great test for us. But that’s what it’s all about, that’s why you play the game, it’ll be good to see how we measure up and it’ll be a fun time.”

    Major concerns for Friday? “I think, definitely, we’ve had a few nicks on the offensive line through camp and we continue to try to get those healthy. So we wanna make sure that we continue to do that this week and get our guys as healthy as we can. We wanna have our front tier line there ready to go, so it’s important to have them out there – they do all the dirty work. We need them to, not only be there, but play well.
“On defense we have some youth. They’ve had a very good camp. They’re gonna play against a very fast offense and we’ve definitely practiced it a whole lot to get ‘em ready. So it’ll be fun to see how we measure up.”

    Can you simulate the BGSU offense? “We’ve tried as hard as we can to simulate that speed. Obviously, when you get in a game setting, you’ll see exactly where you’re at.
“But all through the spring, all through the summer and fall camp, we’ve had a lot of tempo periods to make sure we’re prepared on defense.
“It’s really just about a matter of getting lined up, getting the calls in, being ready to execute before they snap the ball. What they’re hoping for a lot of times is four-to-eight plays a game somebody’s uncovered, somebody is wide open and they’re able to sneak an easy one in there and we can’t allow that to happen.”

    Keys to victory: “Well I think this time of year everybody thinks that they’ve had a good camp and they feel good about where they’re at and everybody thinks they have a chance to win all the games. But in all reality, half the teams win, half the teams lose.
“But you’ve gotta go out and perform come test day and come gameday. Our guys, even though they’ve worked hard, they gotta go out and perform gameday, they gotta execute the calls that are being called, they gotta play extremely hard, they gotta play fast, they gotta play with great instincts, they gotta play tough, they gotta be able to put the pressure on when we have momentum and then when the other team gets it they gotta be able to find a way to get tougher and stop that momentum.
“So really, they gotta perform gameday, they gotta play together and play tough.”

    You nervous? “I think you always have a little bit of nerves and I definitely have those nerves right now. You want your team to play well, you want all the hard work to pay off, you want them to see the results.
“But not until you really get out there and get your feet wet do you know exactly where you stand. The fact that we’re playing a very good opponent is great for us. We get to see exactly where we stand right off the bat before we get into tough conference play for us.
“It’s an exciting time, definitely myself and all of our players will have nerves, but that’s part of it. You continue to work hard and you continue to believe in what you’ve done and you try to relax and go out there and play the best you can.”

    Statement win? “It’d be a huge win for us, without question. Like everyone else, we’re gonna take it one game at a time. But this is a very good opponent. When you play a team that has a lot of seniors, especially on defense that led the MAC in total defense last year, a team that has their quarterback and running back coming back, that has new coaches that are very proven coaches that run the Baylor style-offense – that’s definitely the hot offense nowadays to try and stop – it’s gonna be a test.
“The fact that we get them on our home turf hopefully helps us. But we gotta start fast, we gotta play hard, we gotta not give up big plays and we gotta eliminate turnovers. If we do that I think we’ll have a shot coming into the fourth quarter.”

    Home game: “We’ll it’s an important game and our guys are excited about it. They’ve worked extremely hard. We do have some senior leaders on the team that I think have done a tremendous job getting our guys ready to go. It’s about going out and performing.
“I think those guys are ready for sure. Hopefully they can raise the level of play from our younger guys and get them to play at their level. If we can do that, we’ll definitely have a chance.”

    Coaching staff: “I feel great about our coaching staff. They definitely, not only have a ton of experience, but they’re very proven coaches. They love being here, they love working with our guys. We feel like we’re very good at certain positions and we continue to improve at that spot, but at other times it takes a total team.
“On defense we lost some elite players so we gotta replace those guys, we gotta start fast and they have to grow up fast. But we’ve put a lot of pressure on them in fall camp, we feel good about where they’re at, we feel like we can rotate guys in and out more so than we have in the past as far as from a depth standpoint.
“Now it’s about getting guys healthy on offense where they can perform at a high level. But I think our guys are ready to go.”

Cam Thomas
    Ready for the BGSU offense? “Definitely. We’ve definitely been keeping up the tempo on offense and making sure that we stay up-tempo, making sure that the pace is fast because we know that our opponent is gonna have a fast-paced offense and we’ve been doing a lot of conditioning to get our bodies in shape – especially the young guys. Been getting them acclimated in our scheme and of course in tempo. I definitely think that we’re ready.”

    Statement win? “It’d be huge. It’d definitely be a big win for us as a university, as a program. Definitely a big win for our team to start off the season right in Conference USA even though it’s an out-of-conference game, it’d just be big to make a statement against a high-caliber opponent that won the MAC championship last year.
“We’re ready to make a statement this season. We definitely wanna have an undefeated season, so started off that would just be perfect.”

    Last opener emotions: “It’s definitely surreal. It’s been a long road, especially going through the different coaches that we’ve gone through and being in this program for so long. We’re definitely probably the two oldest guys on the team, so it’s kind of funny.
“At the same time, I’m excited. I wanna really go out on a high note. I believe if we go out and get this first win then it’ll really set the tone for the rest of the season.”

    Coaching staff: “Yeah, definitely with both sides of the ball we have a lot of experience and definitely experience in bowl games and big-time games in the differences conferences they were at. They all have different ways of going about things, but they come together as one unit to get us ready and teach us all the different traits they taught the past guys that play in the NFL still.
“Just been trying to inherit those different traits and come together as one unit.”

Willie McNeal
    Last opener emotions: “I know it’s been a long camp, so there’s really no emotions like that, I’m just ready to get started. Can’t wait for Friday to get here.”

    Coaching staff: “Hearing coaching and getting coaching from a coach that actually did it with a helmet, it makes a big difference. No one can tell you about his past experiences and times and how he prepared with his last year and stuff like that.”

    Offense: “I’ve been here for a long time, and honestly, it’s probably the most explosive we have as far as depth-wise. I think we got two or three deep at every position on the field so there’s gonna be no letting up at all. If somebody go down, somebody come out, there’s gonna still be that pressure.
“I think there’s gonna be a lot of pressure on the coming defensive coordinators, too, because you’re not just gonna gameplan on just two or three guys. You’re gonna really have to worry about everybody and their position.”

    Brandon Doughty: “Man, Brandon’s so confident and so ready right now. That’s all he talks about is this first game. It’s his first game and he’s ready to get his senior year started off and I think it’s going to be one that everybody talks about for years.
“He matured a lot. He cut out all the goofing and playing around and taking film study very serious, calling guys up and making sure guys are on the same page on plays that had miscues in practice. We stay after practice and talk about what he was looking for and what I was looking for just to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Here are comments from Bowling Green coach Dino Babers about Friday’s opener at Western Kentucky.

Dino Babers

“Very interesting. You get the opportunity to start, you’re going on the road to play Western Kentucky – a fine team, very athletic. Obviously coach Petrino leaving, but coach Brohm keeping six of the former assistants, so it’s really a staff that’s on its second year. We’re going down there playing in a hostile environment and it’s a very athletic football team and obviously they’ve got some fantastic offensive skill returning – almost their entire crew. It’s going to be a difficult game for us, but hopefully we’re up to the challenge.”

First year with BGSU: “We really need to have an opportunity to grow up with each other, from a coaching staff to an athletic football team. What that means is we need to go into battle with each other and play a football game and see how we’re gonna react. I think I have a good football – I’m not sure. I haven’t gone through the MAC, I haven’t gone to war with these guys. We’re gonna have to go out there and see and find out exactly what we can do and how we can make music together.”

What do you know about WKU? “It’s amazing. I got to bed around 12 o’clock last night, woke up at 3:15 in the morning, I’m on my sixth cup of coffee and somewhere around, I don’t know, 4:30, 4:59, somewhere in there I actually realized that we have no idea what they’re gonna do.

“You watch tape and you think you know what somebody’s gonna do, but in the first game, you really have no idea. We’re preparing based off of what we’ve seen, but we need to be sharp enough on gameday and to realize that they could play it the old way, the way they did it with Petrino, or they could come out and do something totally new. Of course, they’re allowed to do that, so we need to be ready on all fronts.”

Brandon Doughty and the WKU offense: “Those guys are gonna be clicking. Their offense is the strength of their team, I think that’s fair to say. I think our defense is the strength of our team right now, I think that’s fair to say. They’re gonna go out there and do battle. I think the key to the game is gonna be how each other’s special teams play each other and how our offense plays against their defense.

“They have a huge advantage in that their defensive coordinator, Nick Holt, him and I were on the same staff together at UNLV in 1988. And he was also on the University of Washington staff, played Baylor University in the bowl game when both him and I were part of those other two staffs. So he’s seen us play before, he’s experienced it and now this is his second time around at it. I’m sure he’ll have ideals and some thoughts on things that maybe he didn’t do right the first time that he wants to try the second time.

“For this to be an opener for us and for those guys to have that much knowledge about us, it’s a little uncomfortable.”

Special teams: “Just the entirety. You got some veterans out there running around with some new guys that haven’t played a lot. It’s one-third of the game, but if you can make a big difference in a football game based off making a mistake or making a play in that area. You just don’t know how those guys are gonna do until they’ve been out there a couple games. A little uneasy about that, but I’m sure they are as well.”

BGSU offense: “The whole key to this offense, it usually comes together the second year between game four and six. That’s when it’s really at its best. So, first year out is probably the opportunity to really get after it a little bit, so to speak. And hopefully we can just try to survive with all those hot temperatures (in Bowling Green, Ky.) I’ve been reading about in the weather.”

Starting your program: “What we really tried to do, we tried to get married. I think we had a MAC championship football team coming back from 2013. We have a two-time defending OVC coaching staff coming to coach them. We told them that the way they did it was good. We’re asking them to do it a different way and let’s just get married.

“You know how the first part of marriage you don’t know if the toilet seat’s gonna be up or down? You got all those little battles that really don’t matter. We’re trying to get past all that stuff and really just have faith in one another. We’ll see. They’re saying the right things, we think they’re doing the right things, but whether we’re really both on the same page and we really believe what we’re doing, we won’t find that out until somewhere, probably, in the middle of that football game.”

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WKU closes curtain on fall camp

Western Kentucky officially closed fall camp Friday afternoon at Houchens-Smith Stadium with what the program terms a “mock game.” The Hilltoppers are off Saturday before returning to practice Sunday where they’ll begin preparations for Bowling Green State. The Falcons come to town 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Comments here from coach Jeff Brohm and senior wide receiver Willie McNeal.

Jeff Brohm
    Full attention to BGSU: “Without question. That’s definitely what we’re gearing up for now. It’s a great challenge for us, they’re extremely tough, they’re a veteran team, they’ve won a lot of ballgames – but that’s what it’s all about.
“It’ll test us and we can measure exactly where we’re at this first ballgame.”

    Satisfied with fall camp: “Yeah I think so. I think our guys worked hard. I think they’re into it. I think they’re willing to pay the price to be as great as they can be. We got great team chemistry right now. I think that they know it’s going to be a tough season, but they understand that’s the game of football, that’s why you play it and they’re looking forward to having a lot of fun.”

    Point of emphasis this next week: “I think right now they need a little time to refresh and that’s what we’re gonna do. We put in a lot of hard work the last week. Up to the last scrimmage we’ve done more 1s-on-1s than we have in a long time. We’re going hard.
“We’re trying to make sure, since some of our positions are young, we wanna get better every single day. While we’re getting ready for Bowling Green and using the service team to do that, we’re also gonna continue to do some 1s-on-1s every day and make sure that we’re ready to go come gameday.”

    Mock game: “Yes, we just wanted to treat the entire day like it’s going to be a game, from waking up in the morning to the pregame meal to preparing for the game with walk-throughs and our clap session that we have, and getting mentally and focused ready to go – which we do on gameday.
“Our guys did a great job with it, from taking the field to pregame warmups to all the situational stuff that happens on the field. We tried to cover it all and I think they were into it and did a very good job.”

    Heat: “We’ve had some guys cramp up and need IVs. We’ve got to get acclimated to the hot weather and it’s great that it happened. We’re still gonna work hard, we’re gonna go hard. They’ve gotta get fluids in ‘em, get rest, get the proper nutrition.
“But its great that it happened now to prepare us for the first game.”

   Weather serve as an advantage? “You hope it is. They’re (BGSU) a veteran team that goes fast a lot. They’ve had a lot of experience at it. I think they’ll be ready to go and it’ll be a great test for us, but something we’re really looking forward to.”

    1s-vs.1s: “At this time of year you like to focus in on the next opponent, which we are. But every day I wanna get a little more 1s-on-1s than we had in the past so our guys know the real speed of the game, the real tempo of the game, they continue to improve and get better and continue to test themselves against our best players.
“That way when the game starts, nothing catches them off-guard. They’ve responded well, they’ve worked hard and I think it’ll help us.”

Willie McNeal
    Final fall camp: “It’s a a bittersweet-one, to know that it’s my last college fall camp. I remember going back my freshman year when we did fall camp – I was tired. Couldn’t wait for it to be done. This one? I actually wanted to keep going.”

    Team ready? “Yeah, I think we’re always ready. I think guys are locked in, guys have matured a lot during this camp and we know what we gotta do to take care of business.”

    Learn anything from the mock game: “Yeah, you do, you actually learn a lot, for real. Like, the guys, you can tell that, are ready for the game. Like I told you, the team matured. Like I said, the guys are locked in. In the past, mock games, guys that aren’t going to get reps would be the guys laughing and giggling and playing around. Not today, everybody was locked in.”

    Heat: “We all know what we gotta do, so we can’t have no excuses. So we can’t let the heat beat us.”

    Area of concern for offense: “I would just say finishing, consistency. Just keep trying to out-do yourself personally. Every day you have to do better than what you was yesterday.”

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Manley transfers to WKU

Former Bowling Green High standout Joe Manley has transferred from Louisville to Western Kentucky.

Manley, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman, asked for his release from U of L on Friday. Manley has been cleared to practice and has been wearing No. 79 while working with the second team offense at right guard in practice.

Per NCAA transfer rules, Manley would be eligible starting with the 2015 season.

Manley played in nine game for the Cardinals in 2013 on both special teams and the offensive line. As a senior at BGHS in 2011 he was a three-star prospect and was a first-team all-state selection. He redshirted his first season at U of L in 2012.

Reportedly holding scholarship offers from Louisville, Illinois, Kentucky and WKU, Manley chose the Cardinals in July of 2011 over UK and Vanderbilt and was ranked the 47th best offensive guard in the nation by Scout.com.

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WKU fall camp report 8.20

We talked special teams today after Western Kentucky’s 19th day of fall camp. Comments here from special teams coach Ricky Brumfield, junior kicker Garrett Schwettman and sophomore punter Joseph Occhipinti.

Ricky Brumfield
    Special teams: “We’re looking good. We’re doing a lot of different things, we’re getting a lot of special situations in. Coach (Greg) Nord and I have a checklist of things we want to do, special situations as far as onside kick, hands team, the different techniques we want to do for kick return and punt return and covering different formations.
We’re doing a lot of individual drills with them and covering a lot of special situations. It’s going pretty good.”

    Schwettman and Occhipinti being proven kickers: “They definitely are. Garrett is a proven veteran with what he did last year. He’s an all-conference type kicker. He did a great job for us last year.
“Joe stepped in the middle of the season when (Hendrix) Brakefield got hurt and did a great job for us. He’s getting bigger and he’s getting older. He’s becoming a mature veteran on the field and the more and the better he can do that, the better he’s gonna be. Punt team, we’re trying to change field position. That’s one play for a big chunk of land.”

 Confidence level of Schwettman: “Confident. Very confident. As far as Garrett Schwettman goes, he did a great job last year. He’s expecting to do a great job this year.
“Mike Mugler, he did a good job on kickoffs last year and he’s expecting to do a great job this year. They’re both confident.
“And Joe’s confident as well. Joe just has to get more confident in different situations and when things don’t happen great, he’s just got to get that better.
“But other than that, all three of those guys are confident in what they’re doing. Even (long-snapper) Nolan Dowling is confident in what he’s doing with long-snapping and covering kicks as well.”

Garrett Schwettman
    2014 outlook: “Just mainly consistency. I wanna just get better every game. I felt like throughout camp I got a lot better from the beginning to now. I’m hitting the ball better, trying to tweak a few things here and there. That’s what I’ve done this summer, really trying to find the best kick for me – get a little bit more height, a little bit more distance.
“Overall, throughout the season, I just focus one kick at a time, make it, move on to the next one.”

    Seen improvement? “Yes I have. I’ve seen a lot of improvement with ball contact, a little less spin on the ball, creating a little bit more height, a little bit more distance as well.”

Joseph Ochhipinti
    Now being the guaranteed starter: “It doesn’t really change my approach cuz I still gotta compete for it. Still gotta hold it. Still gotta prove to people what I can do for the team as a specialist and punter. I gotta be sure I can pin them deep when it’s needed and get the ball out of there quick.”

Areas of focus in the offseason: “Leg strength, flexibility – just getting the mind right. This first game, it’s gonna be packed. I gotta be sure that there’s no stress whatsoever, gotta catch the ball, get it out of there. I wanna get the average to at least 42.”

    Coach’s demands for special teams: “As a group overall, just to really stay focused. We all got our different positions – Mugler’s the kickoff guy, Schwettman’s field goal, I’m the punter and Nolan’s the snapper. So we all know what we gotta do. We’re all different positions, we all have to come together as a specialist group and finish together.”

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Gonzalez commits to WKU

Western Kentucky’s 11th verbal commit for the 2015 signing class is yet another in-state prospect.

Jordon Gonzalez, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound defensive back from DuPont Manual, verbally pledged to WKU on Tuesday. All 11 commitments for Western Kentucky hail from inside the state.

Gonzalez made 33 tackles and had two interceptions as a junior in 2013 for the 9-3 Crimsons. He does not have any other reported scholarship offers outside of WKU.

Gonzalez also runs track for MHS, competing in the 100-meter, 200m, 400m and 800m and 1,600m relay.

Gonzalez joins teammate Ty’Ron Horton (a defensive end), tight end Tyler Jefferson (Doss), linebacker DeVon Quincy (Lafayette), wide receiver Dontavion Jackson (Lafayette), running back Marquez Trigg (Glasgow), defensive linemen Bryant Pirtle (DeSales), Heath Wiggins (Graves County) and Nick Coffey (Russell County), offensive lineman Cullen Reynolds (Madisonville-North Hopkins) and defensive back Aldwin Jackson (Seneca) as WKU commits for the 2015 class.

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