Click here to join the Herald’s Signing Day live chat starting at 8:15 a.m.
Below is a synopsis of today’s events.
FEB. 3 UPDATE, 2:17 p.m. — In the midst of all the interviews we did yesterday, Brad Stephens’ chat with two-star defensive tackle Bryan Shorter got loss in the shuffle. Here are his comments from Wednesday:
“Coaches and players make it feel like a big family. Coach Pratt did a good job of recruiting me, he really stayed on me.”
“I’d like to stay at defensive tackle, hopefully in a three-technique.”
“I want to come in the beginning of summer to work out with the team.”
On relationship with fellow WKU signee and defensive tackle from the state of Alabama, Jamichael Payne: “We talk all the time. We really got to know each other during our campus visit.”
“WKU has great facilities. The locker room and weight room really stand out to me.”
On college goals: “I want to win conference championships, get my degree, and hopefully get to the next level.”
— Comments from Shorter’s high school coach, Woodrow Lowe:
“He’s the kind of player that took the coaches’ attention on the first day.”
“He’s very coachable. You only have to tell him something once.”
“He’s a very smart defensive lineman. He does a good job at staying in his gaps, and he knows all of the front seven responsibilities.”
“He liked the facilities, and he really like all the coaches, especially Coach Pratt. They all made him feel really comfortable.”
“Bryan will surprise you. He might be one of those that can play a little bit right away.”
10:04 p.m. — Finally, Signing Day comes to a close. Here are a few notes from Willie Taggart’s press conference Wednesday. Again, be sure to read all of the content online, as well as find extended coverage in Friday’s Herald.
9:26 p.m. — Herald staffer Cole Claybourn has a closer look at the pipeline forming between Warren Central (Ind.) High School and WKU. The Toppers picked up two commits from WCHS Wednesday — defensive back Eric Robinson-Berry and tight end Devin Scott.
The Signing Day celebration in the Topper Club at Houchens-Smith Stadium also took place at 5:30 p.m. tonight. See Friday’s Herald for coverage of the event.
4:23 p.m. — Comments from three-star Elizabethtown tight end Mitchell Henry, WKU’s lone recruit from Kentucky:
“I wasn’t considering anything else today. I knew 100 percent that’s where I was going. It feels pretty relieving that this is all over with. It’s been a long recruiting process, and it’s been stressful, but it’s fun to know I’m going to such a great place.”
“It feels great. You get to go out and show for your state. It’s going to be interesting when Western plays Kentucky. I’m already looking forward to that game. It’s just really exciting — maybe a little lonely — but really exciting.”
“I love this offense. That was one of the main reasons I picked Western. But they’re going to need a lot of help. I’ve got to work hard in the offseason, and hopefully I’ll work hard enough to get some playing time.”
3:48 p.m. — A couple of comments from Allen Trieu, Midwest recruiting manager for Scout.com, about WKU’s No. 1 class in the Sun Belt:
“When you look at this class, it’s very focused into a few recruiting areas. I think they’ve done well in their home state and Indiana, and they’ve also continued to do well in Florida. It’s clear that they want to focus on those regions, and they’ve gotten a lot of quality kids from there this year.”
“It’s great for them, having only been in Division I for a few years, to be able to sign a class like that. They’re the top class in the Sun Belt, but they’re ahead of a few schools in the MAC and the Mountain West, so I think for them to finish where they are nationally is a victory.”
3:41 p.m. — Willie Taggart’s press conference is over, and we’ll have coverage and video from that tonight. The Herald also just spoke with Allen Trieu, Midwest recruiting manager for Scout.com, about WKU’s No. 1 class in the Sun Belt. We’ll have his comments in a few.
1:02 p.m. — Comments from two-star quarterback James Mauro:
Mauro said he’s been calling several recruits in the past few weeks — including Tim Gorski and T.J. Smith — for Taggart, trying to help round out the 2011 class.
“I think (Taggart’s) doing a good job. I think as people start to see Western Kentucky getting better classes every year, it’ll just encourage more people to pop off more. Obviously, better players equals a better football team.”
“I think it’s just going to continue from here. Once we kind of get a trend going, we’re going to start winning games and winning the Sun Belt. Everybody I’ve talked to is expecting to go to a bowl next year.”
“I really like all of the coaches. One thing he tells all of us is to be honest. They don’t pressure anybody to commit. I sat in the other day when he was talking to Cameron Brown, and he was just giving his philosophy about how when he brings a guy in, it’s more than football. He’s their father away from home, and he’s going to turn them into a man.”
“He’s a player’s coach. He’s gone through the four years of college, and he knows it’s more than just football. He wants everybody to be comfortable, and then you start talking about football.”
“I think the coaches are branching out as people start to hear about us. Coach Taggart said when they were I-AA, they had 50 or 60 players from Kentucky. Now they’re going after Florida, Texas and Georgia, so I think they know if they want to win, that involves branching out to find the best talent.”
12:15 p.m. — Comments from Southeast HS coach Paul Maechtle, who coaches WKU commits WR Boe Brand, QB Dyron Speight and LB Terran Williams:
“They are excited to join the rich tradition at Western Kentucky University. Coming out of Florida, they took advantage of the opportunities that were being provided for them.”
Thoughts on Boe Brand, who Maechtle said is still working to get fully academically eligible: “Out of three from our school, he was the most highly recruited receiver. He had offers from Illionis, Rutgers, South Florida. Tremendous route runner, excellent speed, 4.4, 4.5. He needs to gain some weight. Pretty frail. Could be a good kick returner.”
Terran Williams – “He is ready to go and play. He has a lot of football left in him. As a result, there will be a lot of productivity from him. He has the size to become a 6-foot-2, 225, 230 lb linebacker. He has great knowledge of the game. He is a good student of the game too.
Dyron Speight – “Played quarterback for us. He has the second most yards and second most completions of any student that played for us. His pass completion rate was above 60 percent. He could play another position if they needed him too.”
“The biggest pitch from Willie was, ‘You have a chance to make a difference. I know you, I’ll take care of you.’ He knows them. He knows relatives of theirs. He has cousins that are cousins of theirs. Its a family thing.
The family ties were probably the deciding factor for them. That started (Taggart) down here. The kids looked at the different things that were available and locked in on the one that was offered”
12:06 p.m. — Comments from three-star defensive back Champ Lewis:
“The deciding factor for me was the coaching staff. And when I went on a visit I liked the facility.”
“I want to lead the team. I’ll play safety. I want to make some tackles, come down and play the run.”
I’m pretty close to people there. People are like brothers to me. I fit in good.”
11:58 a.m. — Both three-star RB Marquis Sumler and three-star DB Champ Lewis have signed, according to Taggart, bring a close to WKU’s 2011 recruiting class at 26 players.
There are 11 three-stars, 12 players from Florida and eight total states represented.
11:40 a.m. — Comments from two-star defensive tackle Jamichael Payne’s coach, Tim Carter:
“You guys got a player!”
“Nose guard who led us in tackles junior year. He was one of 50 guys chosen to represent the state of Alabama in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. He had 4 tackles and a sack.”
“He went 34-4 during his high school career. He’s a very active player who was the cornerstone of the defense. He’s a great, well-spoken kid who was team captain.”
“The WKU coaching staff has been calling him one of the cornerstones of the recruiting class.”
“He’s a run-stopper who’s 300-plus, I’m not gonna say how high.”
“The key for him is to get in shape. His success at WKU depends on his offseason. He’ll probably go on campus in June to participate in the strength and conditioning program.”
“He’s an SEC-type talent, but some people thought he may be short. But in a few years he’s gonna be a tear in the Sun Belt.”
11:33 a.m. — OL Delryn Wilson, OL Dwayne Montgomery and LB Daerius Washington have sent in their LOIs, according to Taggart’s Twitter.
DB Champ Lewis and RB Marquis Sumler are left unsigned, but their coaches have told the Herald they will sign with WKU today.
11:31 a.m. — Comments from two-star tight end Devin Scott:
“I am looking forward to breaking up the program and helping that happen. The program is down. Just getting into the Division I setting, I am happy to be apart of that and the program.”
“I committed about a week earlier than (Eric Robinson-Berry), but we talked about playing together a lot. We wanted to stay together. We have been together since second grade.”
“The deciding factor was WKU is a great place and I planned on playing somewhere early.”
“I am going to stay at tight end. (Taggart) just said I was coming in to take someone’s job.”
“I was actually committed to Ball State University at first, but they went through a coaching change there and my options backed up. So then I took my position to Western Kentucky.”
11:26 a.m. — Comments from two-star offensive lineman Cliff Burns:
“It’s great, man, just having the papers signed finally. I just know that as long as I get my grades and graduate, I’m going to be playing football again.”
“I was supposed to be there in the spring, but I found out that I wasn’t (NCAA) Clearinghouse eligible a couple days before mid-year signing.”
“It makes me two times more adamant toward getting in the weight room since I know I won’t be there with the team. I’m really looking forward to pushing myself this offseason.”
“It’s getting bigger, of course. We just have to get the experience and have people come in and learn about the little things. I really think we’re going to compete for a conference championship and play in a bowl game with the recruits they’re getting.”
11:09 a.m. — Full comments from Warren Central (Ind.) coach John Hart, who coaches WKU commits Devin Scott and Eric Robinson-Berry:
Hart said the main reasons that Scott was sold on WKU was coach Willie Taggart and the upgraded facilities.
Hart said Scott was “locked in” to going to either Ball State or Western Michigan, but said his mind was changed after meeting Taggart.
“He felt like that was someone that he really wanted to play for and was really excited about it,” Hart said. “Devin thought the facilities were better than anything in the MAC.”
Hart said Scott didn’t play his junior year because he focused on basketball, but returned the football field for his senior season. Hart called him a “Big Ten or Big East type of recruit.”
“To be honest, we had another tight end that we thought was going to be our starter,” Hart said. “What happened was we got to week two and something clicked with Devin and he just absolutely dominated in every segment of the game.”
To show how valuable Hart thought Scott was to the team, he said Warren Central’s first round loss in the Indiana State tournament was a direct result of Scott being out with an ankle sprain.
Scott wasn’t the only Warren Central player to sign with WKU on Wednesday. Three-star defensive back Eric Robinson-Berry, a former Louisville commit, also sign a National Letter of Intent with the Toppers.
Hart said Scott’s commitment played a big role in him wanting to commit to WKU. And like Scott, he said Robinson-Berry was enamored with Taggart and the coaching staff.
Hart also said Robinson-Berry is in the “top one percent among athletes in all of Division I football.”
Robinson ran a 4.28 in the 40-yard dash.
“There’s not many guys in the NFL that can run a 4.28,” he said. “He’s very athletic. He went to state in high jump, so he’s got huge springs on him.”
Hart said he’s more of an athlete than anything and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also used as a wide receiver.
Hart also explained Robinson-Berry’s decommitment from Louisville.
He broke his clavicle his junior season, and Hart said Louisville said that wouldn’t be an issue or cause them to rescind their offer.
But Louisville decided to offer him a greyshirt, which meant he wouldn’t have been able to start until December.
“They had a lot of excuses,” Hart said. “But what it really came down to, from what I heard, was that when Miami’s staff left, they (Louisville) got some commitments from there and decommitted on some of our kids.
“I’m very disappointed in Louisville. They won’t be getting anymore of our athletes, I can assure you of that.”
Hart said he’s developed a good relationship with WKU and its coaches and said their recruiting is improving each year.
“I think the MAC schools are going to have a hard time competing with Western Kentucky if they maintain what they’ve been doing,” he said. “Western Kentucky will win the Sun Belt within three years.”
10:36 a.m. — Comments from three-star running back Marquis Sumler’s coach, Greg Seibert: “Western coaches have him pegged as the running back once (Bobby) Rainey graduates.”
“He’s a downhill runner with lots of fullback in him. He has good vision and runs really strong. He catches the ball well, and lined up a lot at receiver.”
“The deciding factor for Marquis was his comfort with the coaches and the ability to play early. He will come in and have the ability to compete right away.”
Seibert said Sumler will sign with WKU during a ceremony at 10:45 a.m. CT.
9:33 a.m. – WKU now stands at 21 signed letters of intent. Included in the recent signess is the only Kentuckian in the class, three-star tight end Mitchell Henry from Elizabethtown HS. Here are the others:
OL Cliff Burns
DE Dimitri Johnson
RB Quartterrio Morgan
DT Jamichael Payne
DE Gavin Rocker
DT Bryan Shorter
DE T.J. Smith
OL Curtis Williams
8:27 a.m. – Two “708” area codes from Taggart confirms that Thornridge (Ill.) defensive end Dimitri Johnson has also signed. He and Gorski are the only verbals from the Illinois area. There is also a commitment from area code “334,” which could either be Alabama’s Bryan Shorter or Jamichael Payne.
8:19 a.m. — Comments from Warren Central (Ind.) defensive back Eric Robinson-Berry: “It feels great. I’m just blessed to play at the next level, and I really want to thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity to play for them.
It was a long hard process, traveling to so many colleges. Then I had the opportunity to go to Western Kentucky, and I loved it. The coaches made me feel at home and motivated me to come down there and help the program.”
“The players have a bond. They’re all family, and I really want to be a part of that family.”
“I’m just ready to get down there and compete. I’ll do whatever it takes to get myself on the field, and I’ll do anything to help the program succeed. Coach Taggart said no spots are guaranteed to anyone. Everyone can come in with the chance to participate and take somebody’s job, and that’s what I’m coming to do.”
8:18 a.m. — Head Coach Willie Taggart has already confirmed 12 commitments on Twitter by posting their area code. Eleven could be identified by the area code, while WBKO’s James Brandenburg confirmed another. Here’s who’s already on board:
DB Eric Robinson-Berry
TE Devin Scott
TE Tyler Higbee
QB James Mauro
WR Cameron Brown
DE Lawrence Campbell
RB John Evans
WR Boe Brand
LB Terran Williams
QB Dyron Speight
OL Tim Gorski
OL Darrell Williams