An Update on the Position Battle at Wide Receiver

Behind Marcus Vasquez, the competition at wideout appears wide open.

Monday, August 22

This morning kicked off the final week of training camp for the Hilltoppers. A few notes from talking to Willie Taggart this morning:

-Saturday was one of the best practices the team has had since Taggart returned to WKU.

-Game prep for UK has started, but the team will not lock in completely on the Wildcats until later this week.

-The Tops have also done some prep work on Navy, their September 10th opponent.

-As announced last week, the team voted Jack Doyle, Jared Clendenin and Hendrix Brakefield as team captains. Doyle and Clendenin were captains last year as well.

 

One of the biggest question marks entering camp was at wide receiver. With Willie McNeal's injury, the returning experience at that position was very thin. There were even a few questions surrounding Marcus Vasquez, who missed time last year due to a shoulder injury.  By all accounts, Vasquez is healthy and ready to re-assume his role as WKU's No. 1 wideout.  Behind him though, it is still wide open.  It is possible those empty slots go to freshmen.  Boe Brand and Tyler Higbee have impressed throughout camp and it would not shock me if one or maybe both played a prominent role for the Hilltoppers right away. Some other names you might hear sooner than later are Rico Brown, Cameron Brand, and Joel German. Keep an eye on Antonio Andrews as well. He continues to practice with the receivers and could be the Tops' version of Kordell Stewart.

The media is not allowed to speak to freshmen, but I did talk to sophomore wideout Jamarielle Brown this morning about the position battle and how the freshmen have pushed him during camp. Below are comments from Brown, Jack Doyle and Willie Taggart.

Sophomore wide receiver Jamarielle Brown

What he has learned from Marcus Vasquez...

"Ever since I got here, Marcus has been like a big brother to me. He has helped me with my plays, helped me with my routes and I just feel like I can just keep learning from him and be just as good as him."

On how the incoming freshmen have pushed him to become a better wide receiver...

"If you don't compete another man will come in and take your spot real quick. So you just have to come in and compete."

On which freshmen have impressed him during camp...

"Tyler Higbee, Boe Brand, Cameron Brown. They're all doing great things."

If he feels he's performed well enough to earn more playing time this season...

"I think I have but I'm just trying to help the team. Whenever we win, we are going to win with the best receivers out there. I'm just trying to play."

 

Junior tight end Jack Doyle

On wearing the yellow jersey during fall camp (cannot be tackled)...

"It's definitely different for me because I'm used to taking so many reps. I've been limited but it will be good for me in the long run."

How his neck is feeling...

"I feel good. Every day getting better."

On the performance of the freshmen wide receivers...

"They've been doing a great job. There's a ton of young guys that have been really stepping up this camp. I think Marcus is doing a great job leading them. They're really coming along well."

On the freshmen pushing the older players...

"Definitely. That's what we're all trying to do is make this a competition. The freshmen are doing a great job pushing them and are making the veterans work harder. It's all going to be good for the Tops in the long run."

 

Willie Taggart

How the position battle at wide receiver is progressing...

"It's coming. A lot of young guys are stepping up and starting to learn the offense. You can see the more they know, the better they are. They're starting to make more plays in practice. And then some of the guys that have been around are improving too. I've been impressed with the way we've been throwing the ball in camp. Throwing it and completing it. And a big part of that is because the receivers are understanding things better."

Marcus Vasquez as a mentor...

"Marcus is growing up and it's fun to see, not only as a football player but as a person too. I think more than anything he's leading by example. He's working hard and making plays on the field and those guys see that."

On young guys (Boe Brand, Tyler Higbee) pushing the veterans...

"Those guys are getting the oohs and ahhs from their teammates in practice.  And whenever you get oohs and ahhs from your teammates, you better watch out because that means you're doing some really good things and those guys have been doing that quite a bit in training camp." 

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