Petrino introduces 2013 recruiting class

Lucas Aulbach

A long month on the recruiting trail ended for WKU Wednesday as coach Bobby Petrino and the rest of the Topper coaching staff earned commitments from 33 incoming freshmen and junior college transfers.

Petrino said his first National Signing Day as coach at WKU was quiet compared some he’s been through in the past.

“It was kind of uneventful,” the coach said. “Some days on Signing Day you’re wheeling and dealing and faxing scholarships and losing guys, but basically today was a little bit uneventful.”

The total of 33 players, 20 more than last year’s class of 13 players, features eight players who have already enrolled at WKU.

The class is loaded at offensive and defensive line as well as wide receiver. WKU signed eight offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, and six receivers.

Petrino said recruiting receivers became one of his top priorities after taking over as coach of the WKU program on Dec. 10.

“Offensively I thought the wide receivers were a great mix between some real fast guys that can run after the catch and help us in the return game and some big, physical guys that create mismatch problems,” he said. “I thought we did a nice job of putting it together there.”

Despite the emphasis on receivers, the Topper offense and defense each picked up several recruits who could be important down the line.

WKU picked up 16 players on the offensive side of the ball and 16 on defense. The Toppers also signed one special teams player — kicker Joe Occhipinti.

Defensive coordinator Nick Holt said the Toppers defense picked up several pieces to build around in the coming years.

“All the defensive guys we signed, the young kids, I think they’re good prospects down the line,” Holt said.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm said he was most pleased with the depth the offensive line picked up.

“We got a good deal of offensive linemen that we think will eventually be good players for us,” he said. “They may not be great right now but they have the ability, they maybe lack a little strength and experience but we feel good about them.”

Petrino said a lot of the credit for the class should go to the recruiting job the assistant coaches did.

“There’s a lot of players out there and I think our coaches did a great job of falling back on their relationships,” Petrino said. “A lot of the coaches in this room have relationships in the areas that we’re recruiting and were able to identify a lot of talented young men that we started recruiting.”

Many of those relationships came from the Louisville area, where the Toppers found success on the recruiting grounds. WKU picked up three players from the city, and three more are expected to walk on before the start of next season.

The WKU coaching staff has several connections to the area, as Petrino and Brohm both served on coaching staffs at Louisville in the past and running backs coach Kolby Smith played at the school.

Petrino said the WKU staff came in with the intent to sign more players from Kentucky.

“One of our philosophies here in recruiting is going to be to do a great job here in the state of Kentucky,” he said. “I was happy with the four young men that we signed out of the state, three of them being out of the city of Louisville.”

The end of the signing period is the most eventful day for the WKU football program until the start of spring football in March.

Petrino said the WKU coaching staff did a great job of bringing in players after taking over the program late in the recruiting period.

“I thought our coaches did a great job once we got here of identifying the players we were going to recruit, going out and evaluating, making sure they fit our style of play, and doing a good job of getting them on campus,” he said. “Once we get them on campus, we feel like with our facilities and the support we have here allows us as good of a chance to get them as anybody.”