True freshmen finding their footing

21 09 2010

After Saturday’s loss to Indiana, Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart pointed to a handful of true freshmen on both sides of the football that impressed him – especially defensively.

Freshman linebacker Xavius Boyd made his first career start, while true freshmen cornerbacks Tyree Robinson and Arius Wright saw solid gametime throughout much of the second half.

Boyd is still slated to start this week, while Robinson and Wright spent a good portion of practice working with the first string Tuesday.

So basically, ready or not, here they come.

“(Tyree Robinson) came out here today and showed us what he showed us on Saturday, he had a really good practice, we’re going to be all right with him back there,” Taggart said. “Arius did a nice job, too, but it was really good to see (Robinson) respond to today’s practice the way he did in the game on Saturday.

“Hopefully it gets (the other true freshmen) to say that ‘hey, they’re in my class, I can do this, too.’ And hopefully it encourages the older guys to say ‘I’ve got to pick it up, these younger guys are playing the way they’re supposed to and that’s what I should be doing.’ ”

Taggart promised competition from day one, and reiterated it again on Signing Day in February – saying that every player he signed would have a chance to take the field this season.

So far, he’s been pretty true to his word, as eight players who were on a high school football field at this time last year have already played for WKU in the first three games (Robinson, Wright, Boyd, Bar’ee Boyd, Ty Scott, Kadeem Jones, Donald Campbell and Rico Brown).

“It’s a production world around here, you’ve got to do right all the time,” Taggart said. “You can’t take a day off, we’re not in the position to do that, you have to be on your ‘A-game’ and if you’re not, then we’ve got to replace you.

“But if you take a job, you better keep it. That’s the environment we have to have around here if we want to get this done.”

Big recruiting weekend

Saturday’s game at South Florida (which is in Tampa) won’t just be another opportunity for a victory for the WKU football program, it will also serve as a bit of a showcase for Taggart’s program to prospective recruits.

Taggart – a native of nearby Bradenton, Fla. – made no bones about where his major recruiting ties last this past winter when he signed 10 natives of the Sunshine State to scholarships.

So needless to say, Saturday’s game is big for more reasons than one.

“It’s huge in a lot of ways, we do a lot of recruiting down there so it’s good to go down there and show guys what we’re capable doing,” Taggart said. “We’ve got a lot of Florida guys already on our team, so people can come see them play, and it’ll also show them what WKU is all about – if we play really well, I think it’ll spark a lot of interest in our football program.”

Injury updates

Taggart has no concrete update on the condition of junior safety Mark Santoro on Tuesday.

Santoro left Saturday’s game after what Taggart now describes as a ‘tweaked nerve’ in his neck. At this point, his status still appears to be up in the air.

“Right now it’s just still sore, he’s working to see if he can get back,” Taggart said. “It’s nothing major that should keep him out really long, it’s just a matter of working to get back in there.”

As for senior guard Mychal Patterson, it appears he has basically the same situation as Santoro. Patterson reaggrevated a previous nerve-type injury in his neck on Saturday and is continuing to go through some rehab this week. His status for Saturday, like Santoro’s, is also questionable.

Taggart happy for former teammate Stockton

Taggart expressed his happiness for former teammate Joey Stockton on Tuesday for Stockton’s recent induction into the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Stockton – a former standout wide receiver at WKU – will officially go into the Hall of Fame during homecoming weekend next month. And his old quarterback, Taggart, will be on hand to wish him well.

“That’s big time,” Taggart said. “I called Joey last night to congratulate him and tell him that I’ll be there and that I was proud of him. Without him, I wouldn’t have been as successful as I was. He deserves it, he was a heck of a football player for us.”

A North Hardin native, Stockton earned All-America recognition in each of his last three seasons at WKU. He earned four letters (1994-95-96-97) and was named to the I-AA Independent All-Star Team both his junior and senior years. Stockton owns the top two pass receiving yardage games in WKU history — 276 yards on seven catches at Austin Peay in 1995; and 194 yards on seven receptions in a three-overtime 52-50 win at Murray State in ‘97. His 33 catches for 863 yards in ‘95 is still the fourth highest season total ever for a Topper. His career total of 2,057 yards receiving places him among the five Toppers with 2,000-plus yards on catches.

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2 responses

21 09 2010
Lawrence Baisch

Why was there no mention of the freshman fullback Nick Baisch that played one hell of a game. Raineys two tuchdowns were assisted by a great block on each of those scores. If taggart is going to mention freshmen then mention all of them that contributed.

21 09 2010
Nick Baumgardner

Lawrence, you’re right on cue my man.

I actually spoke with Taggart today about the fullbacks and their role so far this season. I hope to have a feature in Thursday’s Daily News about that very topic. I just didn’t blog about it today.

You read my brain.

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