Western Kentucky Looks to Invade Tennessee

The one of the newest additions to the football bowl subdivision in 2008 will be Western Kentucky. Tennessee prospects are beginning to receive a lot of attention from Western Kentucky and its new look program. Learn more about the program, the new facilities, and its impact on Tennessee recruiting.

Head Coach David Elson said of Western Kentucky's move to the football bowl subdivision, "It is an extension of what is going on at the university. We are the fastest growing state university in Kentucky; we have a president that has tremendous vision with our athletic director. College football, 1A football is where it's at. We were one of two schools in the United States that could make this move and be in a conference."

Recently the Sun Belt Conference, which will be Western Kentucky's conference officially beginning in 2009, announced more bowl tie ins. Elson commented, "It's great news for everybody in the Sun Belt. Qualifying for bowls is what it's all about right now in our league. The more we can do of that the more national exposure we can get and hopefully we can get some BCS caliber schools. I guess it's been the WAC with Boise State and Hawaii. If they can do it why can't somebody from the Sun Belt."

WKU Stadium looks great.
Photo by Western Kentucky Staff

The move called for an upgrade to the facilities. Elson said, "We've had a facility since 1968 that was a one sided stadium and although it was very good to us and we've had success we went ahead and put another side on and bowled it in. Eventually we will completely bowl everything in at the beginning of the 2009 season."

The upgrades have made the football facilities look very state of the art and more like a football bowl subdivision program. He explained, "It has moved our entire football operations into the new facilities. We have a brand new 10,000 square foot weight room, coaches offices, and meeting rooms. We added a club level for our fans which is sold out and they already have a waiting list for at this point. It's a first class division one facility. It shows our place is committed to doing things the right way and we will provide the best resources for the young men when it comes to Western Kentucky. We will provide the best academically, socially, and in football."

The weight room is huge.
Photo by Western Kentucky Staff

Coach Elson talked a little about the recruiting process. NCAA rules prohibit Coach Elson from mentioning any prospect by name, but he was able to explain a little about the process in general. He said, "There is a lot of information gathering on the front end. We try to find out as much as we can about kids, what the high school coach thinks and certainly you look at ratings through service."

As for the approach to recruiting at Western Kentucky he said, "For us it comes down to finding out what type of person he is because we want to recruit character guys that are going to make good decisions and understand what doing the right thing is all about. We want to find out if they are serious about education and find out if they will help us win. Help us win the Sun Belt conference, bowl games and help us get our program to another level. Getting all that information is a tremendous amount of work on our assistant coaches. There is a lot of information gathering."

Since Western Kentucky is only a forty five minute drive to the Nashville metropolitan area the state of Tennessee is becoming a key battleground for Western Kentucky. Coach Elson explained of Tennessee and its importance, "We recruit it almost like it's our own state. We take a lot of pride of making sure we cover our bases in our backyard."

Locker rooms look great.
Photo by Western Kentucky Staff

He went on to say of Tennessee, "Walter Wells, offensive line coach, is from Nashville and has great roots with coaches down there. He does a really good job of getting folks up to our campus and when they see what's going on they get excited about it like we are excited about it. Tennessee has been and will be very important to our recruiting process."

The class of 2009 will have to fill many voids for Coach Elson and his Hilltopper staff. He reported, "We are going after several on the offensive and defensive line. We are going to lose several across the board there. At linebacker we will probably take two or three linebackers and after that defensive backs. It's really going to be a well balanced class across the board when it comes to our position needs. We lose 17 scholarship seniors and we will probably end up being a class of about 20 would be my guess."

In the race for an opportunity to play for the Hilltoppers are several Tennessee players. Players like offensive linemen Jebb Lenhart, Sean Conway, Logan Massengale, and running back Wesley Tate all report offers from Western Kentucky at this point. Others receiving interests from the Hilltoppers include wide receivers Nick Nelms, Bo Gilroy, defensive tackle Derek Barrett, and running back James Walker.

Anybody for a swim?
Photo by Western Kentucky Staff

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