At this point last year, it might have seemed impossible to top WKU's 2010 recruiting class haul.
The Toppers snagged a school-record five Rivals.com three-star recruits and were ranked atop the Sun Belt Conference in just their third recruiting class as an FBS team. It's safe to say now that the best just got better.
WKU has so far defended its perch as the top recruiting class with a 2011 haul that includes a new record 11 Rivals.com three-star recruits, with 26 members of the class overall. Going into the final hours, the Toppers held a slim lead. WKU is ranked No. 87 overall in the country, while Florida International is ranked No. 88.
"It goes to show that like this coach has said from day one, that we don't have to settle for anything," coach Willie Taggart said. "We have everything we need here to be successful and we're gonna go after the best, no matter who's going after 'em. That's what it's gonna take because we're gonna have to play the best. We've gotta go after those guys and to see that we can do that, it's great not only for our university, but the guy's that's in it. It shows we can definitely go out there and compete with the best."
The day's events began at 6:02 CT this morning as WKU snagged its first letters of intent, from Warren Central (Ind.) three-star defensive back Eric Robinson-Berry and South Lake (Fla.) defensive end Lawrence Campbell. It ended at 11:39 AM with the letter of intent from Pensacola Catholic (Fla.) running back Marquis Sumler, rather soon for the entire class to be locked up.
There were also an assortment of additions, with six offensive linemen, six defensive linemen, three running backs, three tight ends, two defensive backs, two wide receivers, two quarterbacks and two linebackers.
"You go back and look at it, we were a 2-10 football team," said Eric Mathies, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. "We had a lot of needs that we had to address. We had to build some depth at some positions and I think we addressed that. The thing is, when you start to really break down our class, there's a lot of versatility in the class. We've got some guys that can do some different things as they mature and start to get better as football players and understanding the system and techniques."
A few of those examples are Thornridge (Ill.) three-star Dimitri Johnson and East Lake (Fla.) two-star Tyler Higbee. Johnson is listed as a defensive end, but will most likely play linebacker, while Higbee is listed as a tight end, but will most likely play wide receiver.
There were a few traits among the class. There were a lot of guys from Florida, 12 to be exact, there were multiple sets of teammates and there were a lot of players who were previously committed to other schools. WKU signed seven players who had committed to other schools, decommitted and chose the Toppers.
"Those are the same guys that we got on from day one, pretty much the same time that those schools they committed to got on 'em," Taggart said. "We kept those relationships and we always said it's not over with until that first Wednesday in February. We kept fighting for us and it's important to get them on campus. We feel like if we can get any kid on campus, we've got a chance. Every time we got a kid on campus, that really sold them on WKU."
In fact, only one signee never made it to WKU for an official visit. Champagnat Catholic (Fla.) three-star offensive lineman Curtis Williams never visited, but told InsideHilltopperSports.com, "I told yall from the beginning I want to see some mountains and snow and im sure fiu doesn't see none of that." Last week, he'd picked up an offer from SBC foe Florida International.
The highest rated signee, Dillard (Fla.) three-star linebacker Daerius Washington, a 5.6 rating on Rivals.com, signed with his teammate, two-star offensive lineman Dwayne Montgomery. But Taggart isn't looking at the rankings now.
"That's all on paper," he said. "Just like I told those guys, don't be paper champs. Come here and take care of your business. And that's why we're recruiting them, to come here and take care of their business."