There will be more than five Hilltoppers that will have breakout seasons in 2016, so WKU Insider is taking a quick glance at five returning players that should help make the difference this season.
QB Mike White
The redshirt junior understands the Hilltopper offense and its expectations. A year studying and observing while sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules, White was named as the team's starter late last week. Playing behind center for a Jeff Brohm offense will always provide an opportunity for the quarterback to quickly become a household name and the chance is now White's for the taking. He has the game experience, starting 15 games for South Florida prior to transferring.
WR Nacarius Fant
A local product from Bowling Green High School, where he was named the state's Mr. Football in 2013, Fant could see a larger role this fall. The 5-foot-9 speedster did a bit of everything for WKU last season, becoming the only member on the team to record a statistic rushing, receiving, passing and returning punts. His speed makes him a threat to take a return the distance and he'll have plenty of opportunities to do just that in 2016. He's also likely to see a few more balls thrown his way.
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WR Will Bush
A product of Louisville Ballard, Bush spent his first season on The Hill as a redshirt and played sparingly in 2015, recording just one catch in six games. The departure of Antwan Grant and Jared Dangerfield has provided an opportunity for the 5-foot-11, 195-pound redshirt sophomore to climb the depth chart. His play in the spring and through fall camp has further solidified that he'll be in the rotation.
LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe
The second local product on the list, Iyiegbuniwe was among the state's top prospects out of South Warren in 2013. After seeing time as a reserve and special teams contributor, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker is set for a breakout year. The loss of a pair of seniors has set the stage and head coach Jeff Brohm is leaning on him for leadership.
CB De'Andre Simmons
The redshirt junior displayed his potential while starting two games for an injured Wonderful Terry last fall. He appeared in all 14 games and finished with 17 tackles and an interception. WIth both corner spots open due to graduation, Simmons, a likely starter, has the tools to become a lockdown corner for the Hilltoppers.