Western Kentucky fans,
Welcome to our (okay, my) official FREE National Signing Day blog.
Unlike the last few years--when the previous coaching staff released hints on Twitter about letters received through the day--we reporters will be mostly on our own for information.
Luckily, you've came to the right place. I've already confirmed most of the signee's (and non-signee's), and should have some quotes and pictures throughout the day (before full stories go online tomorrow night and later in the week.)
Every update, starting at 6 am CST (to 3 pm), will be posted on this blog (or on our forums) with a timestamp, so it can be easily refreshed from your place of employment, home, etc.
Example post: 6:15 am--Dupont Manual safety Juwan Gardner has faxed his letter-of-intent to Western Kentucky. (Insert quotes/pictures when available).
Most of this will also be available FREE on Twitter (@JWellsFOX), if you prefer to follow there. I also welcome questions from Twitter and I may (if time allots) post the Q and A's on the blog.
Thank you all for deciding to spend this day with us. And now--National Signing Day can begin.
Pre-6 am CST post: Our subscriber-only full schedule of expected LOI's from WKU's verbal commits is on our message boards (CLICK HERE). To start the morning slot off (6-8am CST), I'm told both Juwan Gardner and Justin Martinez will be sending their letters in--and there could be several others. If you want to try our 7-day free trial for access to the schedule, CLICK HERE.
Some recruits will fax their LOI's early this morning, but may not make their signing public until later this afternoon.
If I receive confirmation of any letters received, I'll post quotes/pictures/video/recruiting analysis when available. I might not make another post until 8 am or so, depending on the pace of the early morning. Again, Twitter will be a great place for fans to start (@JWellsFOX). So for now, relax and get ready for an (always) fun day!
7:20 am: St. Lucie West Centennial offensive lineman Justin Martinez is the first reported NLI received by the Hilltoppers.
Martinez is one of the better (if not best) offensive lineman pickups for WKU in this class. Very aggressive, strong in the trenches.
"Honestly, it's the best feeling ever to finally be signing and ending this..I got alot of schools trying for me lately, but I didn't even listen to them much because WKU is home for me and I feel that in my heart. I'm so happy to sign tomorrow so I can focus on school, graduate, and hurry up and get to WKU and take somebody's job, and win a championship under Coach (Bobby) Petrino."-Justin Martinez.
7:45am: Vestavia Hills DE Kalvin Robinson is WKU's second reported NLI.
Robinson is a recent pickup, flipped his commitment from UAB to WKU after visiting the Hilltoppers over the Jan. 25 weekend.
He was recruited by both new WKU assistants Nick Holt and Jeff Brohm.
"I can't wait to be back in the beautiful city of Bowling Green to the college I will fall in love with. WKU is a special place where I'm ready to work hard and bring home a BCS bowl game trophy under my new head coach, Bobby Petrino."
"As far as the recruiting process, lets just say I'm happy it's peacefully sleeping in its grave."-Kalvin Robinson
Mid-year enrollee Kyle Jones.
Jones is one of nine members of this class already enrolled and on-campus taking classes.
8:45am: The Hilltoppers reportedly add their 3rd and 4th NLI's from Nicholas Norris and Donald Rocker.
Norris is a 5-foot-10 speedy wideout from Booker T. Washington (Fla.) HS, while Rocker is a 6-foot-4, 298 pound offensive lineman from Sandalwood HS (Fla.).
Donald is also the cousin of current WKU defensive end Gavin Rocker.
"I'm glad the stress is off and I can focus now."-Donald Rocker.
9:10am: Rashad Greene confirms he's sending his NLI to Western Kentucky.
Greene picked the Toppers' over interest from Wisconsin and Nevada.
"At WKU, I know I am going into a winning program with a really good coaching staff with a lot of experience. I couldn't see myself fitting in with any other program besides the Hilltoppers. It feels good knowing I am officially about to be a part of Coach Petrino and an awesome staff."-Rashad Greene.
9:45: Todd Porter becomes the first quarterback commitment for Bobby Petrino at WKU, after officially signing his NLI to the Toppers'.
Porter, a 6-foot-3, 180 pound two-star quarterback, picked WKU over offers from Syracuse, Florida Atlantic, and several top FCS programs.
The O'fallon HS standout completed 61.1 percent of his passes his senior season, for over 2,969 yards and 22 passing touchdowns (10 rushing), in addition to 11 interceptions.
10:20am: WKU unofficially adds several NLI's, including Shaq Johnson, Tanner Reeves, and Drew Davis.
Johnson is one of the best overall prospects in this class. Phenomenal speed and pass-catching ability for his height at the tight end position. As he develops more physically (listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds), he has the potential to shine for the Hilltoppers.
Reeves picked the Toppers' over offers from Hawaii and Youngstown State.
"I've had the greatest experiences during this recruiting process, but I'm relieved that it's over. Being a Hilltopper is such a great feeling. I can't be more excited to get up there and start football and school. I'm going to do my best to help put WKU on the map and hopefully be a great contender in Division 1 football."-Tanner Reeves.
Davis finished with over 160 tackles in his senior season at Bob Jones (Ala.) HS. He won the Huntsville' Times Defensive Player of the Year award.
"I can't wait to get to Bowling Green this summer so I can get to work. I love to win and I honestly feel like we're destined to do so under Coach Petrino. Shoutout to all the WKU fans, can't wait to play for you!"-Drew Davis.
11:10: Several more NLI's have been confirmed to WKU, including Aaron Jackson, Brandon Ray, D'von Isaac, Isaac Tanner, and De'Andre Simmons.
Jackson, a 6-foot-3, 185 pound wide receiver, is one of several new pass catchers joining the Toppers' wide receiver corps.
The Frankfort HS star, sporting a 4.5 second 40-yard speed, finished with 60 catches for over 1,513 yards (a 25.2 yards per catch average) in his senior season, adding 18 touchdowns.
"I feel great about the decision I made about WKU. I can't wait to show Hilltopper Nation who I am."-Aaron Jackson.
Tanner chose WKU over offers from Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee and North Texas, among others.
"I've been working for this day and dream since I was 8 years old, to make it a reality is a real blessing. But it's only the beginning."-Isaac Tanner.
12:15: More NLI's confirmed. Marcus Ward, Joe Occhipinti, and Jimmie Sims are all Hilltoppers.
Ward, a 6-foot-3, 200 pound defensive back, is high school teammates with signee Kalvin Robinson.
After switching from cornerback to strong safety (the position WKU recruited him for) his senior season, Ward picked the Toppers' over offers from UAB, Air Force, Army and Memphis, among others.
"I've had the honor and opportunity of being recruited by some prestigious schools. But I'm relieved that is over and I'm glad God chose me to experience this."-Marcus Ward.
Occhipinti is the No. 25 kicker in the nation, according to our rankings.
He attended the same high school as current Hilltopper punter, Hendrix Brakefield.
Occhipinti converts field goals regularly up to the upper 40-yard range, with capabilities of hitting in the low 50's.
In the video below from a practice, Occhipinti hits a 62-yard field goal (off the ground).
1pm: First new commitment of the day comes in the form of Pleasure Ridge Park wide receiver Taywan Taylor.
The 6-foot-1, 185 pound wide receiver picked the Toppers' over an offer from Colorado State and interest from Kentucky.
He finished with 56 catches for over 1,202 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2013 for PRP.
Taylor's commitment makes 18 confirmed WKU signee's for a possible 25 spots, with a few verbal commitments still to announce this afternoon.
Bobby Petrino will officially announce the signing class at a 3 pm press conference on Western Kentucky's campus.
1:30: The last verbal commitments are trickling in, as DeMarcus Glover, Derrell Young, and Juwan Gardner all confirmed signing with WKU.
Young is an outside linebacker from Boyd Anderson (Ala.) HS who finished with 29.5 sacks his senior season.
Glover flipped his commitment from UAB to WKU after visiting the Toppers' campus over the Jan. 18 weekend.
He picked WKU over offers from Florida Atlantic and Louisiana-Lafayette, among others.
That should about wrap it up for us here today. Updates will be provided from Petrino's conference to later throughout the week on the Toppers big signing class.
Hope all enjoyed following along today. Make sure to come back and check out the site tonight and through the week!
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