WKU coaching staff took advantage of Louisville roots

Laura Beranek

In previous seasons under coach Willie Taggart and crew, WKU football was largely represented by Florida natives and products of a recruiting trail in the deep south.

Wednesday, 33 new members were added to the WKU roster from seven different states, and while 17 of them came from Alabama and Florida, the Toppers also picked up four players from Kentucky.

The city of Louisville is home to three of the new WKU players – defensive back Juwan Gardner, wide receiver Cam Lewis, and wide receiver Taywan Taylor – and the Toppers are expected to pick up three more players from Trinity High School in Louisville to walk on. The fourth Kentucky native commit, wide receiver Aaron Jackson, from Franklin High School in Franklin.

Petrino has significant strong ties to the Louisville area.

He first moved there in 1998 as an offensive coordinator under Coach John L. Smith.  

In his one season with the Cardinals, Louisville had the top-ranked offense in Division I-A in scoring and total offense and posted the biggest turnaround among I-A football teams.

Petrino returned to Louisville as coach from 2003-06 – the Cardinals went 41-9 during that period.

New offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm also relied on strong Louisville networking to secure commitments from WKU recruits.

“We’re going to take advantage of that relationship we have,” said Brohm, who played quarterback at Louisville from 1989-93 and was an assistant coach at the school from 2004-09. “Obviously I know a lot of guys in Louisville and they’re aware of me. Not only do I know about all of the schools, my family and friends know about all the schools, so they’re going to relay information to me even when I don’t ask.”

The 2013 signing group features significant key additions on the offensive and defensive line to fill the hole left by a lineman-heavy senior class – WKU graduated two starting offensive linemen and all four starers on the defensive line.

The addition of Lewis and Taylor at the receiver positions was another area that was a priority on the recruiting agenda.

“When you look at the overall class, it was important that we did a great job at receiver – mainly because of the transitions, the different offensive styles, the number of quality running backs that were already on scholarships and the number of quality tight ends that were already on scholarships,” Petrino said.

He said it’s important for the team to have “some great competition” not only during practices but potentially in the regular season.

“Taywan Taylor is a guy that coach Brohm identified as a real playmaker.” Petrino said at Wednesday’s press conference, “He’s the style of a receiver that can not only run great routes and get down field but he’s also very difficult to tackle after he has the ball in his hands… I really feel like he’s a guy that has a chance to come in and compete for playing time right away.“

With a coaching staff full of Louisville connections, it’s unlikely WKU will slow down recruiting in the city any time soon.