Football notes: Toppers come back from a day off

Lucas Aulbach

Fresh from their first day without practice in two weeks, WKU was back at it in Smith Stadium on Monday morning, preparing for the upcoming season-opener.

WKU hit the field bright and early and had a long day ahead. The Toppers had the final two-a-day practice of the fall camp scheduled — the first two-and-a-half hour practice began at 8:40 a.m., with another one planned for 6:45 p.m.

Sunday was a day off only from on-feld practice. The Toppers took team pictures at the stadium and several players and coaches spent much of the day helping incoming freshmen move into their dorms.

Coach Willie Taggart said the Toppers who came out to help were a great example of the type of character his team has.

“These kids don’t get upset about doing things like this,” he said. “They really look forward to reaching out and helping others.

“We want to continue to build out program and we are going to do it with our students and our community.”

Sunday marked the last day during fall camp that WKU did not have any practices planned. The team will work out every day for the rest of the month before they open the season against Austin Peay on Sept. 1.

Taggart said the day off was important for team mindset coming down the stretch of the offseason.

“They’ve been working really hard for two weeks,” he said. “To get that day off was big for them.

“The guys are out here pounding on each other every day and it was good to get a day off. You talk about morale, those guys get a day off and come back and they’re ready to go.”

Taggart said he expects to see his players putting all of the pieces together as the offseason finishes up.

“I want to see execution at a high level, both sides of the ball,” he said. “Going through the week now, we’re gonna start whittling it down and getting our two-deep depth chart together and getting ready to go into the season next week.”

Jones ready for versatile responsibilities

With the running back race getting so much attention this offseason, the Toppers have the benefit of having one piece of their backfield in place.

Junior fullback Kadeem Jones said he’s ready to work with whatever running back the Toppers use to help move the ball downfield. Jones said he’s confident in the running backs WKU plans to play this year.

“We’ve got a lot of talent and I like the guys that we have behind me running,” he said. “I’m real confident in them.”

The fullback position is generally a mix of the responsibilities of the running back, offensive line and tight end. He lines up in the backfield and can take the ball in a hand-off, catch passes or be used as an extra blocker on the line.

“You’ve got to be able to block, got to be able to catch, got to be able to run and you’ve got to be able to pick guys up whenever they’re down because most of the time the fullback is the guy that keeps the offense going when everything’s going bad,” Jones said. “You’ve got to be a dog. You can’t play it if you ain’t no dog.”

Taggart hopes Jones can help the Topper offense hound defenses all season.

“I think Kadeem is valuable because not a lot of fullbacks can catch the football,” he said. “When (defensive) coordinators go and prepare for you, they’re preparing for him to block, not catch the ball or run the football for us. It’s great to have a guy that can do all three things because you can do so much more offensively and we plan on doing that.”

Familiar face returns for picture day

One player who showed up for pictures on Sunday won’t take the field this season, yet he may have been the biggest story of the day.

The Toppers were joined at the stadium on Sunday by junior defensive lineman Tevin Holliman, who was shot at a bar in Bowling Green last April.

Holliman will not take the field for the Toppers this season as he recovers from his injuries.

Safety Ricardo Singh, who was also shot in the incident, has been practicing with the team.

Taggart said he found out Holliman planned to attend the photo shoot a few days beforehand and that Holliman kept it secret from the rest of the team.

“I think the only person he told was his roommate Willie McNeal,” he said. “It was good, he showed up just in time for pictures and you could just see among our players and our support staff, coaches and all, the excitement that he brought to this football team.”

He may not make any plays on the field this year, but Taggart said Holliman makes a big difference for the team off it.

“I feel like we’re complete now as a football team,” he said. “We got Tevin back here with us and now we can roll.”