After signing several prospects from Louisville (Ky.) in his 2012 recruiting class, WKU Head Coach Willie Taggart said the program was looking to build a recruiting pipeline to the metro area.
That effort seems to be already paying dividends in the Hilltoppers 2013 recruiting class.
Dupont Manual HS safety Juwan Gardner announced his commitment to the Hilltoppers today, July 6., making him the No. 5 commitment to WKU in the class.
"I prayed about it a lot," Gardner said. "My Mom said when God shows you that sign, you have to take it.
"So I called the coaches and told them I was accepting their offer."
Gardner chose WKU over offers from Ball State, Miami of Ohio, and Indiana State, with strong interest coming in from Indiana and Cincinnati, among others.
"Western is going to do a lot of great things this year, for the next couple years." Gardner said. "I know I made the right decision."
Surprised the coaching staff
Gardner talked to a few of the coaches about his commitment, surprising most of them.
"I called Coach Hampton and told him I was accepting their offer," the rising senior said. "He was like 'Hold on, let me put you on speaker.'
"They were in a meeting, so I said it again on speaker phone, and they went crazy."
Gardner also got to talk to Coach Taggart about his commitment.
"He said I made his day," the safety said.
With his commitment out of the way before starting his senior season, the Dupont Manual product has a few goals in mind for his final year of high school.
"Definitely lead my team to state," he said. "Individually, I want to get stronger.
"I've got a lot of motivation now (after the commitment). I know what I'm lifting for, know what I'm running for."
Gardner is the 4th commitment on the defensive side of the ball for the Hilltoppers, joining LaBront Scott, Marcus Adams, and T.J. Simmons.
How are the 2013 defensive commitments stacking up for the Hilltoppers? Talk about it in WKU Confidential