WKU expecting big signing class tomorrow

Lucas Aulbach

WKU will introduce its first signing class of the Bobby Petrino era tomorrow.

The class stands in stark contrast to the 2012 signing class, the last under former coach Willie Taggart. WKU has received verbal commitments from 31 high school and junior college players, more than twice as many as last year’s class of 13 players.

The incoming group has the potential to fill holes at several positions on the WKU depth chart in the future.

The Toppers are expecting commitments from eight offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, six defensive backs, five wide receivers,  three linebackers, one tight end, one punter, and one quarterback. The class is made up of 26 high school recruits and five junior college transfers.

The group is headlined by six three-star prospects – defensive lineman Marcus Adams, offensive lineman Connor Popeck, offensive lineman Donald Rocker, wide receiver Jalen Edwards, offensive lineman Justin Martinez, and linebacker Isaac Tanner.

The class is the largest in the Sun Belt Conference and is rated as the best in the league by Rivals.com.

Athletics director Todd Stewart said part of the reason the athletics department targeted Petrino when the school was looking to replace Taggart was the effect it would have on the Topper brand – the fact that the coach has been in successful at the highest levels could convince potential recruits to give more consideration to WKU.

“He will get access to our program across the nation where we haven’t had it before,” Stewart said.

WKU President Gary Ransdell said he hired Petrino with the expectation of strong recruiting classes to follow.

“If he’s successful and hits home runs here then we’re then beneficiary of that,” Ransdell said. “Upside potential outweighs downside risk – you make a decision and you go with it.”

The Toppers have several holes in their lineup that a good recruiting class could impact in coming years.

WKU is losing its starting quarterback, all four of its starting defensive linemen, one starting linebacker, two veteran tight ends and two starting offensive linemen from this year’s group, which finished 7-6 and earned a berth in the first FBS bowl in WKU history.

Quarterback is a position of concern for the Toppers moving forward. WKU is expected to sign one passer, Todd Porter from O’Fallon High School in Illinois, but the starter for the 2013-14 season will likely be one of the quarterbacks currently on the roster – freshman James Mauro, sophomore Brandon Doughty, or freshman Damarcus Smith, a former four-start recruit who was ineligible this season due to NCAA transfer rules.

WKU will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. tomorrow to discuss the newest recruiting class.