First spring practice in the books, WKU welcomes a few new faces

Western Kentucky University defense huddles up before the next snap during their home game on Oct. 24, 2020.

Nick Kieser

WKU’s first spring practice is in the books with a few new faces on the field. 

Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley had his first practice with the program after accepting his new position on the Hill back on Dec. 14, 2020. 

“I was very proud of us today,” Kittley said. “It’s really good to get back out there on the field and be around the guys and the coaching staff and just everything about it.” 

Graduate quarterback Bailey Zappe is one of four former Houston Baptist players to transfer to WKU since their season ended last October. The Victoria, Texas native said he felt like Bowling Green is like where he’s from. 

“Everything is going good,” Zappe said. “I like the coaches, I like the players and I’m really excited to be part of this program and get ready for the fall.” 

Following the first day of practice Zappe said everyone here wants to win and they’ll do anything they can to accomplish that. 

“I’m very fortunate and blessed to have Bailey here,” Kittley said. “He’s a seasoned veteran and has been in this for a long time. For Bailey also he’s got those two safety blankets out there who he’s already had that chemistry with.” 

Those safety blankets are junior Jerreth Sterns and freshman Josh Sterns are some of the other familiar faces from the Huskies roster that joined Zappe and Kittley up in Bowling Green. The brothers are each listed as new wideouts for the Hilltoppers heading into the next season.

“I just want to be that gritty dude on third down,” Jerreth Sterns said. “Just make the play, move the chains and be that guy on third down who moves the chains everytime.” 

Zappe said it’s nice to have some friends come along to make the transition from home easier which is 15 hours away for the new quarterback on WKU’s campus. 

“I give the quarterback a lot of leeway, we throw the ball around more than pretty much anybody,” Kittley said. “I think [Bailey] really loved that.” 

Kittley said after he took the job at WKU he didn’t know if Zappe would be coming to WKU. 

“We beat the likes of an SEC and a Big 12 team to get him here,” Kittley said of Zappe. “And so we’re very fortunate there, and then to be quite honest with you, the Stern’s and Ben Ratzlaff was completely out of left field.” 

Graduate receiver Ben Ratzlaff is the last piece to the puzzle who made the transition over to WKU and was one of the go to wideouts for Zappe during his tenure as a Husky. 

Ratzlaff caught 126 passes for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns all in 16 games as a member of Houston Baptist. 

WKU’s next practice is set for Thursday afternoon in Houchens-Smith Stadium. 

Sports Editor Nick Kieser can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.