Andrews preparing for new ‘hybrid’ role on WKU football team

Cole Claybourn

Sophomore Antonio Andrews is listed on WKU’s roster as a wide receiver.

But the former Kentucky Mr. Football could be listed at virtually any offensive position and it would be accurate.

Andrews, who played in nine games last season — mostly at running back — will be far from limited to that role this season.

Don’t be surprised to see Andrews running the football, lining up as a receiver, returning kicks, or even playing quarterback. Head Coach Willie Taggart joked at last week’s media day that Andrews might even do some kicking.

“I’m going to do whatever I can to get some W’s and try to help the football team as a whole,” Andrews said Tuesday. “I’m just trying to make something happen this year.”

The new “hybrid” role, as Andrews put it, is simply a result of Taggart realizing his playmaking ability and wanting to put the ball in his hands.

He showed how multi-dimensional of a player he could be in his nine games last season, carrying the ball 32 times for 174 yards while catching five passes for 37 yards. After adding some kick return yardage, Andrews finished the season with 429 all-purpose yards.

Andrews’ availability was limited last season. After originally signing with the Air Force Academy out of high school, he decided to leave and arrived at WKU in mid-August.

Andrews then had to wait for the NCAA’s nod before he was cleared to play.

With one of the nation’s top running backs in the country in Bobby Rainey on the team, Andrews would be limited to action if he was strictly the No. 2 running back and nothing else, even though the gap between the two may not be as big as some think.

“Last year, a couple times when he got in the game at running back, I really thought it was Bobby back there,” Taggart said. “Then I look over and see Bobby on the side and think, ‘Woah.’ The kid has something in him, and it’s something special. He doesn’t do us any good on the sidelines.”

But even so, Andrews has taken the time to soak in what knowledge Rainey can give him.

“He’s really helpful. You all know the type of person he is,” Andrews said. “When I came in he helped me with the plays and everything and when I finally got rolling, he was like, ‘We need a No. 2 running back. It’s yours for the taking.’

“He’s just helping me learn the plays and all that and we were very competitive with each other last year. He helped my work ethic.”

Andrews obviously found out that he was more than just the No. 2 running back, although he admitted that he would prefer to have it that way so he can have one position to perfect.

But then he looked at players such as former Kentucky player Randall Cobb who have had success in similar roles, and Andrews said it didn’t take long to warm up to the new role.

That’s all Taggart can ask for.

“He just wants to play,” Taggart said. “He wants the ball in his hands to do what he does best. You love that as a coach — a kid who wants the football and can do something with it once he gets it.”