With season over, recruiting now the focus for WKU football

Brad Stephens

Recruiting is a little easier than it used to be for Willie Taggart.

The current Topper Head Coach was an assistant at the school from 1999-2006, before WKU began its transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2007.

Those were the days when Smith Stadium had bleachers on just one sideline, average home attendance hovered around 9,000, and the program was about a decade removed from nearly being voted off campus.

“You go in there now, they know what WKU means,” Taggart said on Friday. “Before, you’d go in there and they’d say ‘Where’s that?'”

Taggart and his coaching staff have turned their attention to recruiting now that the 2011 season has come to a close.

The Toppers have roughly two months to fill out their class before National Signing Day on Feb. 1, 2012.

Taggart said his team’s 7-5 record this season and eight national television appearances have made high school athletes more aware of the Toppers.

“Players are getting a little more interested in us,” Taggart said. “We were on TV a lot, so kids got to watch us play.”

Taggart has showcased an ability to recruit, signing the Sun Belt Conference’s top-rated class in both 2010 and 2011, according to Rivals.com.

Rivals lists five current commitments in WKU’s 2012 class.

The highest-profile commit in the class thus far is Curtis Williams, a Rivals three-star 6-foot-4, 330-pound offensive lineman from Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y.

NCAA rules prohibit Taggart and other coaches from talking about specific recruits. But he highlighted the need for WKU to bring in more depth on the offensive line, referencing the players sitting with him at the podium, senior left tackle Wes Jeffries and record-breaking senior running back Bobby Rainey.

“That’s where it all starts, none of that other stuff matters,” Taggart said. “There’s no Bobby Rainey without Wes Jeffries, so we’ve got to make sure we get these other guys in here and continue this thing.”

Taggart also said the coaching staff will work to sign a kicker.

WKU loses senior Casey TInius to graduation and returns sophomore Monte Merrick and freshman Jesse Roy.

The Toppers made 5-of-20 field goals this season, the worst rate in the entire FBS.

WKU is getting a campus visit this weekend from Class of 2012 cornerback Brian Poole, a four-star recruit who committed to Florida in June.

Rivals lists Poole as having a scholarship offer from WKU.

Other schools that have offered Poole include Alabama, Auburn and Nebraska.

Poole goes to Southeast High School in Bradenton, Fla., the home high school of four WKU players.