WKU at Conference USA media day

Western Kentucky coach Jeff Brohm, senior offensive lineman Cam Clemmons and junior defensive end Gavin Rocker were present at Wednesday’s Conference USA media day in Dallas. Quotes from all three here.

Jeff Brohm
    Picked fourth in the East Division: “I think that’s to be expected. New team in the league, not many people know a whole lot about us and it is a step up, so to speak, in competition. We have to come in and prove ourselves and earn respect.
“There are some teams who have been in this league for awhile that have played a high level. It’s going to be very competitive week-in and week-out and we have to find ways to win games.”

First year as head coach: “Experience is valuable, so when it comes to being a head coach, it is my first year doing that here. The fact that I’ve coached for a long time, played for a long time, coached and played for a lot of great players and coaches.
“Even the fact that I was here this past year with our team I think is a huge benefit. Now it’s just about going out and doing it and getting the first game under your belt.
“Without question I’m going to have to prove myself, just like everyone else and prove I can help our team get it done.”

Expectations for the start of fall camp: “We want to make sure we have a hungry team, a driven team that works hard and plays the together. We’ll put the team first and all go about our business every day to become the very best on a daily basis and then I think we can be a very good football team.
“It’s going to be a challenge. I think the first game is extremely tough – the first four games are extremely tough. We’re going to have to be ready Day One.”

Looking at BGSU yet? “We’ve taken the first four opponents and put a gameplan together and have a general idea of what we think we’re going to see. So the first part of camp we’ll focus on getting better and getting into the things we need to get into to be successful on both sides of the ball and special teams.
“As it gets closer then we’ll narrow it down again and re-gameplan and make sure we know exactly what we’re doing.”

The Middle Tennessee game: “I’ve been in rivalries where it’s been the first and the last. Whenever it is I think it’s a great opportunity for our players, coaches and fans to play against people that are close, that we’re familiar with, that we know. It’s important to try and find a way to win that.”

  College Football Playoff: “I think it’ll be exciting. Any time you have the first time of something, I think it creates a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement. The fact that there’s going to be a playoff system that will help determine a true winner of the national championship, I think a lot of people will definitely look forward to that and they’ll be a huge following.
“The fact that there are five big bowl tie-ins and there is a slight chance for a team from our conference and some of the other conferences to get in that is always something that you shoot and strive for.”

    Can a CUSA team can get to the CFB Playoff? “I think it’s going to be tough – but it has happened in the past with Northern Illinois and those teams that have found a way to get into a big bowl game.
“You’re going to have to run the table or be pretty close to it. You’re going to, not only win your conference games, but have a good nonconference schedule and have some upsets. I think if you do that you definitely prove you can do that at a high level.”

  Recruiting: “I felt like we had a good recruiting class last year, we got a chance to get with them a little bit this summer and we feel good about it. We had a definite strategy going into this recruiting season with how to get the best players out there and so far we feel really good about where we’re at and, obviously, we’re continuing to build upon that and get guys from all over.
“Without question we’re going to evaluate closely guys within a two-to-three hour radius, whether it’s in Kentucky, in Tennessee, if it slides up to Ohio, to make sure with all our connections we don’t bypass someone that we think can play.”

Cam Clemmons
    Excitement for CUSA: “Any time you’re going into a season, there’s already an amount of excitement. Then going to a whole new league, Conference USA, it’s awesome.
“The thing that’s most-exciting to me is having the opportunity for a conference championship game. Just having the chance and you control your own destiny. That’s an awesome thing.”

    Team’s goal this season: “Every team is here is going to say their goal is to have the chance to compete for a championship. So everyday we’re just taking things one day at a time, going along with the process and doing what we got to do to give ourselves a chance to be a champion.”

Picked fourth: “If a team needs extra motivation like that, they’re not ready to play. We don’t really pay a lot of attention to things like that. Just doing things how they’re supposed to be done and everything else will take care of itself.”

   Game you’re most looking forward to: “Right now it’s Game One. Bowling Green, they’re a big-time football team. They’re really good. After that it’ll be Illinois and so forth and so forth. Just one game at a time.”

    Date of the MTSU game matter: “It really doesn’t matter. It’ll be good to have some recent film on them and all that stuff, but it’s just very exciting to be to play them once again. I know it’s really good for the fans. It’s awesome, especially in basketball, being in Diddle when we play Middle is a special deal.”

  Jeff Brohm: “He’s going to be a superstar, I promise you. He’s prepared. Being under coach (Bobby) Petrino, he learned how to run things and I can already tell coach Brohm knows what he’s doing and we trust him 100 percent. He’s going to lead us.”

Gavin Rocker
   The defense: “I feel like we’ll be fine with the guys that we have. The people that are back from last year, they’ll pretty good and they showed themselves in the spring and that gave us confidence that we can be competitive and be good this year.”

    Picked fourth: “It’s a preseason thing. I understand it’s a new conference and they’re not familiar with us, so we’re not going to look into that or worry about that. What we care about is how the standings are going to look at the end of the season.”

Game you’re most looking forward to: “Just looking at Game One. We don’t want to look ahead, that’s how you end up losing. We want to stay focused on the task at hand.”

   Sense there are more doubters out there this year? “If anything I would say we have more support. We’re coming off the best record that we’ve had at the (FBS) level. I feel like fans are excited and we should be gaining more.”

Posted in Football, Talkin' bout the Tops | Leave a comment

Aldwin Jackson commits to WKU

The Western Kentucky football program Monday received its ninth verbal commitment for the 2015 signing class when Aldwin Jackson verbally pledged to be a Hilltopper.

Jackson is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound defensive back from Seneca High in Louisville. An unrated prospect, Jackson reportedly holds scholarship offers from Ohio, Ball State, Austin Peay, Tennessee State and WKU.

As a junior, Jackson played in all 11 SHS games during a 2-9 season. He recorded seven interceptions and returned three of those for touchdowns.

All of Western Kentucky’s verbal commits for the 2015 class hail from the state of Kentucky. Jackson joins tight end Tyler Jefferson (Doss), linebacker DeVon Quincy, wide receiver Dontavion Jackson (Lafayette), running back Marquez Trigg (Glasgow), defensive linemen Bryant Pirtle (DeSales), Heath Wiggins (Graves County) and Nick Coffey (Russell County) and offensive lineman Cullen Reynolds (Madisonville-North Hopkins) as WKU commits for the 2015 class.

Posted in Football, Talkin' bout the Tops | Leave a comment

C-USA media day primer

Excited about Conference USA football media day? Well of course you are.

I’ll be in Dallas this week as Western Kentucky football begins its maiden voyage into its new league. They’ll be plenty of updates on the blog here, the Twitter and, of course, bgdailynews.com.

The fun starts Tuesday night when the league will have a hospitality event for media at the DFW Marriot. While my industry comrades and I booze and schmooze at the hotel, players and sports information staff from each team will be dueling at Topgolf Dallas.

Wednesday is a day full of interviews, beginning with C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky at 8:30 a.m. and followed by Bill Hancock – the College Football Playoff executive director.

Players and coaches from West Division teams will meet with the media in the morning Wednesday while East Division players and coaches will do television interviews for Fox Sports on location at FS Southwest. The two divisions then switch in the afternoon.

Western Kentucky will be represented by coach Jeff Brohm, redshirt-senior offensive lineman Cameron Clemmons and redshirt-junior defensive end Gavin Rocker.

Posted in Football, Talkin' bout the Tops | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Alabama QB to transfer to WKU

Quarterback Parker McLeod is transferring from Alabama to Western Kentucky and plans to join the team at the start of fall camp, the Daily News confirmed Thursday.

McLeod is a 6-foot-3-inch, 195-pounder who graduated from Walton (Ga.) High in 2012 and enrolled early at Alabama in 2013. He did not play for the Crimson Tide last season and opted to wear a redshirt his initial season. In the 2014 Alabama spring game McLeod threw one pass – which was intercepted.

Rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com as a high school senior, McLeod reportedly had scholarship offers from Boston College, Central Florida, East Carolina, Louisville, Maryland, Oklahoma State and Syracuse. He threw for 541 yards and four touchdowns during an injury-shortened senior season and threw for 1,619 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior when WHS finished 14-1 with its lone loss in Georgia’s Class 6A state title game. ESPN ranked him as the nation’s 31st-best pocket passer in 2012.

The addition of McLeod would give WKU six quarterbacks on the 2014 fall roster, joining redshirt-senior Brandon Doughty, juniors Nelson Fishback and Troy Jones, sophomore Todd Porter and freshman Drew Eckels. McLeod would not be eligible for the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Western Kentucky is scheduled to play at Alabama on Sept. 10, 2016.

Posted in Football, Talkin' bout the Tops | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

WKU football and basketball recruiting review

I try and get around to this each summer, so here’s my best effort to update Western Kentucky’s recruiting efforts in a four-year period in both football and men’s basketball.

This list starts with signing classes in 2011 which means all athletes would have been true seniors for the 2014-15 season.

Football
2011
WR Boe Brand — No longer with the program.
WR Cameron Brown — No longer with the program.
OL Cliff Burns — No longer with the program.
DE Lawrence Campbell — No longer with the program.
RB John Evans — No longer with the program
TE Tim Gorski — Currently a redshirt-junior with the Hilltoppers.
TE Mitchell Henry — Currently a senior with the Hilltoppers.
TE Tyler Higbee — Currently a redshirt-junior with the Hilltoppers.
DE Dimitri Johnson — No longer with the program.
DB Champ Lewis — No longer with the program.
QB James Mauro — No longer with the program.
OL Dwayne Montgomery — No longer with the program.
RB Quartterio Morgan — No longer with the program.
DT Jamichael Payne — No longer with the program.
DB Eric Robinson-Berry — Career ended with WKU due to injury.
DE Gavin Rocker — Currently a redshirt-junior for the Hilltoppers.
TE Devin Scott — Currently a redshirt-junior for the Hilltoppers.
DT Bryan Shorter — Currently a redshirt-junior for the Hilltoppers.
DE T.J. Smith — Currently a senior for the Hilltoppers.
QB Dyron Speight — No longer with the program.
RB Marquis Sumler — No longer with the program.
LB Daerius Washington — No longer with the program.
OL Curtis Williams — No longer with the program.
OL Darrell Williams — Currently a redshirt-sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
LB Terran Williams — Currently a senior with the Hilltoppers.
OL Delryn Williams — No longer with the program.

2012
WR Austin Aikens — No longer with the program.
RB Leon Allen — Currently a junior with the Hilltoppers.
RB Travis Elliot — No longer with the program.
OL Tyler English — No longer with the program.
DB Brett Harrington  — No longer with the program.
OL Forrest Lamp — Currently a redshirt-sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
DL Julian Leslie — Currently a redshirt-sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
DL Tyrone Pearson — No longer with the program.
DL Marquez Pride — Currently a redshirt-sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
LB Daqual Randall — Currently a junior with the Hilltoppers.
DL Devante Terrell — Currently a redshirt-sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
RB Anthony Wales — Currently a redshirt-sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
DL Calvin Washington — Finished his career at WKU in 2013.

2013
LB Drew Davis — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
DL Joe Fennell — No longer with the program.
DB Juwan Gardner — Currently a redshirt-sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
DL DeMarcus Glover — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
DB Rashad Greene — No longer with the program.
DT D’Von Isaac — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
WR Aaron Jackson — No longer with the program.
DB Leverick Johnson — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the program.
TE/LB Shaquille Johnson — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
WR Cam Lewis — No longer with the program.
OL Justin Martinez — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
WR Nicholas Norris — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
P Joseph Occhipinti — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
QB Todd Porter — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
OL Brandon Ray — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
DL Tanner Reeves — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
DL Kalvin Robinson — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
OL Donald Rocker — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
DB De’Andre Simmons — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
OL Jimmie Sims — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
LB Isaac Tanner — Currently a freshman with the Hilltoppers.
WR Taywan Taylor — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
WR Kylen Towner — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
DB Marcus Ward — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
LB Derrell Young — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
DL Maurice Bennett — Currently a junior with the Hilltoppers.
DL Raphael Cox — Currently a senior with the Hilltoppers.
OL Johnny Delaney — No longer with the program.
LB Devante Duclos — Currently a sophomore with the Hilltoppers.
OL Kyle Jones — Currently a redshirt-freshman with the Hilltoppers.
DB Dalton Patterson — Currently a redshirt-junior with the Hilltoppers.
OL Connor Popeck — Currently a redshirt-senior with the Hilltoppers.
WR Lonnie Tuner — Currently a senior with the Hilltoppers.

Basketball
2011
F O’Karo Akamune — Finished career at WKU in 2014.
F George Fant  — Currently a senior for the Hilltoppers.
G Derrick Gordon — Currently a redshirt-junior at Massachusetts.
G Kevin Kaspar — Currently a senior for the Hilltoppers.
G T.J. Price — Currently a senior for the Hilltoppers.
F Nigel Snipes — Currently a redshirt junior for the Hilltoppers.
F Vinny Zollo — Currently a junior at Cleveland State.
C Deng Leek — Currently a junior at Southern Illinois.

2012
F Eddie Alcantara — Currently a sophomore at Blinn Junior College.
C Michael Bradley — Currently a senior at Samford.
C Aleksej Rostov — Currently a junior for the Hilltoppers.
F Alassane Kah — Signed with the College of Central Florida for the 2013-14 season.
G Brandon Harris – Finished his career at WKU in 2014.

2013
C Ben Lawson — Currently a sophomore for the Hilltoppers.
F Aaron Adeoye — Currently a senior at Southeast Missouri State.
G Payton Hulsey — Currently a sophomore at East Forida State College.
C Daouda Soumaoro — Currently a redshirt-junior at the University of Mobile.
G Chris Harrison-Docks — Currently a redshirt-sophomore for the Hilltoppers.
G Trency Jackson — Currently a redshirt-senior for the Hilltoppers.

Posted in Basketball, Football, Talkin' bout the Tops | 1 Comment

WKU’s updated football roster

The Western Kentucky football team updated its 2014 roster Tuesday. Under first-year coach Jeff Brohm, 11 players listed on the spring roster will not return for the 2014 season.

Offensively, running back Marquis Sumler, offensive linemen John Delaney and Charleston Antwine, wide receivers Nehemiah Mkanta and Donte DeSalle and quarterback DaMarcus Smith have left the program.

Defensively, defensive linemen Jamichael Payne and Daevonte Dawson, defensive backs Eric Robinson-Berry and Joeshawn Starks and linebacker Jordan Bryant are no longer part of the team.

There are also several additions to the team. Those include offensive linemen Matt Boston (Glasgow High) and Scott Leibert (Trinity High), defensive linemen Byron Carver (Warren Central High) and Derik Overstreet (Paducah Tilghman), quarterback Drew Eckels (Warner Christian Academy, Daytona, Fla.), wide receiver De’Vonta Moffitt (Doss High), linebackers Nick Newton (Presbyterian) and Jordan Tyler (Paducah Tilghman), defensive back Nathan Rousch (DeSales) and fullback Gunnar Scholato (Pope John Paul II, Hendersonville, Tenn.).

Posted in Football, Talkin' bout the Tops | Leave a comment

Update on the NIT Season Tip-Off

I linked a video report from ESPN’s Andy Katz the other day on Twitter in regards to the NIT Season Tip-Off, and Friday I looked into it a bit more.

Western Kentucky is still a full participant even though the format is likely to change. The Hilltoppers are guaranteed four games, one of which does not appear anymore to be a trip to the University of Georgia.

Tournament officials are still working on the matchups of the event. Regularly a 16-team field, this year’s tournament may be limited to eight participants, as Katz reported.

Western Kentucky’s full schedule will be released soon once Conference USA has finalized league matchups, dates and television broadcasts. Until then, here’s an earlier post on what is known of the 2014-15 schedule.

 

Posted in Talkin' bout the Tops | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment