Out of Bounds: QB’s departure doesn’t spell disaster for Tops’ football future

Kyle Hightower

All we needed was a Chicken Little sighting and the weekend would have been complete.

Because for all the good in Western’s home-opening 49-0 win over Kentucky State Saturday, behind the scenes even those who know better might have thought the sky was falling down on top of the program.

Confused? Don’t be.

It’s the kind of thing that tends to happen when your star quarterback-in-training becomes a could’ve-been, should’ve-been, would’ve-been star of the past before even throwing his first official collegiate pass.

That was the situation coach Jack Harbaugh and his staff found themselves in Friday when they found out redshirt freshman Antone Towns had decided to leave the football team to concentrate on his baseball career at Western.



They had to hate that.

Harbaugh said Friday he hadn’t spoken with Towns, a redshirt last season, about his decision but heard about it through Towns’ father.

“He never really came to me,” Harbaugh told the Herald. “I talked to his dad about two weeks ago and I guess (Antone) wasn’t very happy. I thought we had some things resolved and talked to his dad again last night. He said he had decided to give up football to play baseball.”

And with that, the knife was twisted a little deeper.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his decision to leave, by not sitting down with the coaching staff to at least discuss the situation, Towns made it look like there was some problem between him and the staff. Even if that wasn’t the case at all.

Then again, Towns – whose play was at times flashy on the football practice field – may have just opted to remain the social hermit he often appeared to be off the field.

After splitting practice time between baseball and football in the spring, Towns was listed at No. 2 on the depth chart when the season started last week.

A prodigal stud on the Western baseball team, Towns became one of the baseball team’s best hitters and was a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American. In 49 games, he batted .338 with 27 runs scored, 13 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs.

Many on the outside, including myself, expected to see similarly impressive numbers on the football field in the coming seasons as Towns matured and learned under the tutelage of guys like Willie Taggart.

But for his own reasons, which the majority will probably not be known for some time, he has decided to give it up. And to tell you the truth, that’s really his prerogative.

Towns was blessed with talent that lent itself to two sports. And let’s not sidestep the facts here – his best sport is clearly baseball.?

Sure, he might have become a Taggart-type standout on the gridiron.?But who is to say that he won’t still shine on the diamond?

And here’s a message to all Western football fans who are worried about Jason Michael getting hurt or next season when Michael is gone: It’s really going to be okay.

Really, it is.

I know freshman Alex Dukes had butter fingers Saturday, but it was his first game.?Not to mention that he had been sitting and watching Michael play like a stocky version of Doug Flutie for a half.

Harbaugh likes Dukes.

And if Dukes one day can make the flashes he shows in practice become the norm he shows on game day, then he could very well deliver the future that we all thought Towns was going to.

What does that mean for the Toppers in the long run? Well, like Chicken Little found out in the end, this whole Towns panic could very well just be an acorn hitting the Toppers on the head.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Kyle Hightower’s column appears on Tuesday and occasionally on Thursday. You can reach him at 745-6291 or by e-mail at [email protected]