Momentum is a powerful force in the world of sports and for WKU head coach Jeff Brohm and the Hilltoppers football program, there is plenty of it flowing in the right direction.
Following a record-setting season that saw climb into the AP Top 25 following an undefeated run in Conference USA and winning the Miami Beach Bowl, the WKU program is enjoying a bigger than accustomed spotlight. The spotlight grew even larger during the recent NFL Draft, when a trio of Hilltoppers - Tyler Higbee, Brandon Doughty and Prince-Charles Iwora - were selected and another five picked up during free agency.
"That really continues the great momentum that we've had," WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said of the recent draft.
It's an impressive run of success for a football program that was participating on the FCS level less than a decade ago. A rapidly growing campus, stadium expansion, new conference membership and on the field performance have helped fuel the momentum that has lifted WKU profile in recent years.
"It was 2007 and we were in a one-sided stadium and in the Gateway Conference and we had a lot of growing pains," said Stewart, referring to the 0-12 start to the program's FBS era.
The growing pains began to subside five seasons ago under the direction of then head coach Willie Taggart, continued in the one-year tenure of Bobby Petrino and reached new heights during Jeff Brohm's current reign on The Hill.
“I think we’ve got something special here where we’re trying to elevate the program and improve each and every year," Brohm said. "We’ve got a great conference schedule in Conference USA now with tremendous bowl tie-ins where we can be on national TV and play in great destinations. We’re trying to continue to build a great non-conference schedule, which I think we have."
A trio of victories over SEC programs Kentucky (twice) and Vanderbilt has helped enhance the image of the WKU program throughout the region, helping to boost recruiting efforts. Scheduled contests against other Power 5 programs, including a trip to Alabama and a visit by Vanderbilt this fall, have also helped elevate the visibility of the Hilltoppers.
"I think any time as a player you get the opportunity to go somewhere and be put in a situation or system where they can utilize your skills and showcase your talents as good if not better than somewhere else and be able to play against good competition, you’re going to be able to shine and have a chance to succeed," Brohm continued. "This past year has proven that. The campus, our facilities sell itself. The people here sell itself so I think it’s a great opportunity, and without question, it’s one of many main pieces we use with our recruits.”
As the program continues to develop, the spotlight will continue to grow as that momentum boosts the Hilltoppers profile for recruits and fans alike.
"To our coaches and to our players, they've really raised the bar, in my opinion, to an all-time high," said Stewart. "There's better than a better time to come here an play football."