WKU roster stacked with old, new faces

Lucas Aulbach

The WKU roster is filled with several returning starters as well as some newcomers who are expected to contribute right away.

Quarterbacks — Senior Kawaun Jakes will be calling the shots at the start of the year. He is backed up by redshirt freshman James Mauro and sophomore Brandon Doughty.

Running backs — Junior Keshawn Simpson gets the start in a “running back by committee,” where he will share carries with junior Antonio Andrews and freshman Leon Allen as they hope to replicate the production of Bobby Rainey. Junior Kadeem Jones will line up for the Toppers at fullback.

Wide Receivers — Sophomore Willie McNeal hopes to highlight this group as he’s fully recovered from an ACL tear. He’ll be joined by junior Neil Wilson, sophomores Rico Brown and Boe Brand, freshman Austin Aikens and several others.

Tight ends — Senior Jack Doyle is the highlight of a deep group. Doyle led WKU in receptions and receiving yards last year and was recently named to the watch list for the John Mackey Award watch, given to the best tight end in the nation each year.

Offensive line — Junior Sean Conway will snap the ball and senior guard Adam Smith will anchor a line that includes sophomore tackle Cameron Clemmons, junior guard Luis Polanco, and senior tackle Seth White.

Defensive line — Senior end Quanterus Smith led WKU in sacks last season but is suspended for Saturday’s game and will be replaced by sophomore T.J. Smith. He’ll be joined by seniors Cole Tischer, Jamarcus Allen and Rammell Lewis.

Linebackers — Junior Andrew Jackson led the team in tackles and tackles for a loss last season and will be back in the middle this season, along with juniors Bar’ee and Xavius Boyd.

Cornerbacks — Juniors Arius Wright and Tyree Robinson will be responsible for covering opposing wide receivers for WKU.

Safeties — Senior Kareem Peterson will start at free safety and junior Kiante Young will be No. 1 for the Toppers at strong safety. Look for sophomore Florida transfer Jonathan Dowling to see time at strong safety as well.

Kicking — Sophomore Jesse Roy has been tabbed as starting kicker while junior Hendrix Brakefield will be responsible for punts and kickoffs.

Returns — Andrews is expected to return most punts and kickoffs. Robinson and McNeal, a 2010 freshman All-American will see time in the special teams backfield as well.