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WKU Football adds five new players to their 2021 recruiting class

WKU Football’s 2021 signing class is now up to 19 newcomers
WKU Football
WKU Football(WBKO)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 4:23 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Football’s 2021 signing class is now up to 19 newcomers – 17 of them transfers – as the Hilltoppers have welcomed five more incoming players to the program over the past three months.WKU began the cycle by inking seven players during the early signing period in December, then college football’s 2020 passing leader on Christmas and six FBS transfers in early January. Among the recent group, three have experience at Power Five programs and one was a starting quarterback in the Mountain West Conference (MWC). The fifth was a star at Houston Baptist with new WKU offensive coordinator Zach Kittley and quarterback Bailey Zappe, alongside wide receivers Jerreth Sterns and Josh Sterns.

Kendall Abdur-Rahman So., WR, 5-11, 190 Edwardsville, Ill.Edwardsville HS Notre Dame

Abdur-Rahman spent two years at Notre Dame and appeared in one game – a 52-0 win vs. South Florida in 2020. Graduated from Edwardsville High School after playing for head coach Matt Martin. Was a two-time All-State selection who rushed for 1,135 yards and 19 touchdowns while passing for 647 yards and 15 scores as a senior in 2018. Of those 19 rushing touchdowns, 10 were of 40-plus yards and five were of 80-plus yards. Was rated the No. 30 athlete nationally and No. 7 player from the state of Illinois by 247Sports, as well as the No. 40 athlete nationally and No. 7 player from the state of Illinois by ESPN.com. Was listed as the No. 21 overall prospect from the state of Illinois by Rivals.com.

Carson Baker r-So., QB, 6-3, 210 San Diego, Calif.Helix HS San Diego State

After redshirting his first season at San Diego State in 2018, Baker appeared in eight games – including five starts – in two seasons with the Aztecs. Overall, completed 78-of-128 passes (61%) for 789 yards, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. His collegiate debut as a redshirt freshman in 2019 came in rare circumstances – filling in for injured starter Ryan Agnew in the regular-season finale vs. BYU, Baker completed 19-of-24 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown with zero interceptions in a 13-3 victory over the Cougars. Became only the second quarterback in the SDSU Division I history (since 1969) to win in his starting debut having never previously thrown a collegiate pass. Started the first four games of 2020 for the Aztecs while appearing in two others in an eight-game season. Completed 59-of-104 passes for 617 yards, with three touchdowns and three picks. Had career-highs of 261 pass yards on 21 completions and added a rushing score vs. San Jose State.

Niko Cooper r-So., DE, 6-5, 225 Memphis, Tenn.Douglass HS Nebraska/Hutchinson CC

Cooper played in each of the final seven games for Nebraska in 2020. He finished the season with three tackles, all on kickoff coverage units. Earned Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll recognition during the fall semester. Joined the Cornhuskers after spending two seasons at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Redshirted in 2018, then totaled 24 tackles for the Blue Dragons in 2019. Had nine tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks while forcing a pair of fumbles. Was ranked as a three-star recruit, and 247Sports listed him as the No. 3 weakside defensive end prospect from the junior college ranks. Chose Nebraska after also taking visits to Kansas State, Texas Tech and Maryland, according to Hutchinson head coach Rion Rhoades.

Kahlef Hailassier-So., DB, 6-2, 185 Elk Grove, Calif.Cosumnes HS Independence CC/Oregon

Hailassie played in all 13 games as a freshman for Oregon in 2018, primarily at cornerback and on the punt return unit. Played a season-high 31 snaps and make one tackle in the season opener against Bowling Green. Then transferred to Independence CC and was on the Pirates’ roster prior to signing with the Hilltoppers. He was a consensus three-star by ESPN.com, Rivals and 247Sports. Rated the No. 81 cornerback in the class by ESPN.com and was a top 100 cornerback by the 247Sports composite rating. Participated in Nike’s The Opening Regional in Oakland. Totaled 1,262 all-purpose yards over 18 games his two seasons at Cosumnes Oaks High School. Averaged 23.8 yards per catch as a wide receiver in 2017. Scored a touchdown three different ways as a junior in 2016; scored 10 touchdowns with seven through the air, two on punt returns and another on a scoop-and-score. Also had 31 receptions for 614 yards with 64 tackles and one interception on defense. 

Ben Ratzlaffg-Sr., WR, 6-2, 190San Diego, Calif.Westview HS Houston Baptist/Golden West College

Ratzlaff went to Houston Baptist for two seasons, where he recorded 126 receptions for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns in 16 games. As a senior in 2020, averaged 7.7 catches for 116.7 yards in three games against FBS opponents with a 100-yard performance in each contest. Had a season-high 10 grabs for 137 yards and two scores at Louisiana Tech. As a junior in 2019, had 87 catches for 1,139 yards (school record) and 12 touchdowns. Recorded five 100-yard receiving games, including such efforts in four consecutive contests early in the season. Had a career-high three scoring grabs at South Dakota; had 12 catches and 155 yards against the Coyotes, and also threw the game-winning two-point conversion to Coleman Robinson in the Huskies’ 53-52 victory to earn Jesse Palmer’s helmet sticker on ESPN’s College Football Final. Had career-highs of 13 receptions and 178 yards at Sam Houston State in the final game of the season. Earned a spot on the All-Southland Third Team and was named to the league’s Academic Honor Roll. Came to HBU after two years Golden West College. In two seasons for the Rustlers, had 62 catches for 993 yards and eight touchdowns. Earned First Team Southern California Football Association honors as a sophomore and made the honor roll.

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