WKU’s trip to FAU a home outing for many Toppers

Brad Stephens

WKU will be making its farthest road trip of the season this week, traveling 15 hours to Boca Raton, Fla., for a matchup with Florida Atlantic.

But for many Toppers, playing in Florida on Saturday will be a chance to play in front of family and friends in their native state.

Thirty three current WKU players hail from the Sunshine State — the biggest representation of any state on the Toppers’ roster.

Among them is sophomore cornerback Tyree Robinson, a Dundee, Fla., native.

Robinson said 24 of his friends and family will be in attendance at FAU Stadium.

“All my other teammates from Florida will have 20 or 30 too,” Robinson said at practice Tuesday. “It’ll be a little home game for us.”

Florida high schools have become known in recent years as hotbeds for producing big-time college football recruits.”

Head Coach Willie Taggart, a Palmetto, Fla., native, put special emphasis on recruiting the state in his first two recruiting classes — both of which were rated No. 1 in the Sun Belt Conference.

He said that magnifies the importance of games played in Florida, such as WKU’s upcoming road contest with the Owls.

“A lot of (recruits) don’t get to see us in person that often,” Taggart said. “And for our guys that are from there, they get the chance to go back and play against some of their former teammates and friends.

“People hear about Western Kentucky, they’ve seen the progress. Getting attention down there and getting people talking will really help.”

Robinson a former FAU target

Tyree Robinson could’ve played for FAU Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger instead of coming to Bowling Green.

But when Schnellenberger didn’t offer Robinson’s cousin — sophomore fullback Kadeem Jones — a scholarship, Robinson crossed the Owls off his list of schools.

Jones and Robinson eventually came together to WKU, where they’ve become regular starters at fullback and cornerback, respectively.

“It kind of got to me when they were recruiting me… I was trying to tell them about (Kadeem) and they just didn’t want to listen,” Robinson said. “So all that did was just remind me of everything Western Kentucky did for us, and we both go out there and play our hearts out.”

Jones, who has primarily served as the lead blocker for senior running back Bobby Rainey, has also scored four touchdowns this season.