Hilltoppers have big day at draft

John Reecer

If, for whatever reason, you haven’t been taking the WKU football program seriously, that probably changed after the NFL Draft concluded Saturday.

Not only did Tyler Higbee, Brandon Doughty and Prince Charles Iworah all have their dreams realized, but the WKU football team also saw more players drafted than the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville had combined.

Still not impressed? How about this: WKU had more players drafted than the University of Tennessee and just as many draft picks as Auburn University, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.

Now, having success at the draft doesn’t necessarily make a college program great. But it definitely doesn’t hurt a program, and for WKU, this was just the icing on the cake for its best season in program history.

So with the program having a great day, how did individual Hilltoppers who were drafted fare?

For starters, Higbee was a very lucky man on Saturday. The St. Louis Rams looked past his nagging knee injuries and his recent run-in with the law to select him with their second overall pick in the draft.

While he dropped in the draft as a result of his off-field incident, he did not fall as far as some people expected.

In fact, Higbee landed on a roster where he will get a lot of playing time early in his career if he stays away from trouble and injuries.

For Doughty, Saturday was a disappointing day until the Miami Dolphins selected him with the second pick in the seventh round.

I have no idea how or why, but 14 quarterbacks were selected in front of Doughty.


I am not going to doubt the overall football knowledge of those 14 NFL teams, but I honestly think they are simply wrong about Doughty.

Some of Doughty’s weaknesses are noticeable enough that it is understandable if he fell behind six or seven quarterbacks, but falling behind as many as he did was just absurd.

As fate would have it, though, Doughty ended up back in his hometown; he grew up just a few miles down the road from the Dolphins’ practice facility.

This is an ideal situation as he can sit behind current starting Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill and develop his game to the NFL style.

Time will tell if Doughty will prove the naysayers and most of the NFL wrong, but he has spent his entire college career proving people wrong. Why stop now?

As for Iworah, his selection in the third round is a testament to where true hard work can get people. This was a guy who wasn’t on many scouts’ radars at the start of the season.

Iworah quickly changed that as he showed vast improvement on the field and in the gym, which led to a great showing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and on Pro Day.

Hopefully he will be able to make the 49ers’ final roster as the team currently has a lot of talented defensive players.

Overall, it was slightly disappointing that Jared Dangerfield and George Fant did not get drafted, but it was not surprising. They both were signed as free agents and will still have a chance to be professional athletes.

Even with Doughty’s fall in the late rounds, Saturday was a special day for both WKU football and the families of athletes whose lives changed as a result.

I’m not sure what the future holds, but it certainly seems like the sports community needs to get used to seeing the WKU brand when draft day rolls around each spring.