NOTEBOOK: Can’t touch Rainey during WKU football’s fall camp

Junior running back Bobby Rainey wears a yellow jersey during Western’s fall camp to signify that he can’t be tackled. Rainey ran for 939 rushing yards on just 144 attempts during the Toppers’ 0-12 campaign last season.

Zach Greenwell

During his first year as running back coach at Stanford, WKU Head Coach Willie Taggart was forced to give the ball to a true freshman defensive back after his first six running backs went down injured.

With that experience still fresh in his mind, Taggart’s done everything he can to protect junior running back Bobby Rainey this fall.

Rainey wore a yellow jersey during fall camp, meaning that he was not to be tackled. Rainey said he understands that Taggart wants him to “save it for Nebraska” this Saturday, but the extra protection earned him some ribbing from his teammates.“They’ve been giving me a lot of grief about it, but it’s cool,” Rainey said. “They see the big picture. The team as a whole understands that, but even though they understand it, they’re still going to give me crap about it. It doesn’t bother me.”

Rainey rushed for 939 yards on 144 carries as a sophomore last season.

Switching it up

One of Taggart’s first orders of business as coach was to evaluate the positions of each WKU player.

One of the biggest conversions was junior Derrius Brooks’ move from wide receiver to cornerback.

“I think I’m just adjusting really well,” Brooks said. “It took me a couple days to get everything in sync … but I’m picking it up quick. I think it’s a great move for me.”

Other significant moves included junior Avery Hibbit going from defensive back to running back, sophomore Quanterus Smith going from linebacker to defensive end, and senior Orlando Misaalefua switching from safety to linebacker.

Aside from Brooks, Taggart moved each of the newly placed Toppers back to where they played when they first came to WKU.

“It was so important to put guys in positions where they could help us,” Taggart said. “It wasn’t whether they liked it or not, but what we needed for our football team. To be honest, a lot of these guys feel like they’re better in the position we have them in right now, and if they’re feeling good about it, usually good things happen.”

Andrews off and running

WKU wasn’t able to land Kentucky Mr. Football Antonio Andrews on signing day last February, but the Toppers say better late than never.

Andrews, a standout quarterback at Fort Campbell who initially signed with the U.S. Air Force, left the school’s prep academy a few weeks ago to come to the Hill.

Andrews practiced with WKU for the first time on Aug. 25 and has worked as a running back and fourth-string quarterback since then.

The coaching staff has yet to make a decision on whether Andrews, the first Kentucky Mr. Football in program history, will redshirt.

“Whenever you get the player of the year — I don’t care what state it is — it’s exciting because you know he’s a really good football player,” Taggart said. “Now ,as coaches you have to see what he’s good at … and put him in the right place so he can do that.”