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February 3, 2010

Taggart Welcomes Class of 2010 Signees

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There were the typical headaches that recruiting always brings. There was also the drama, the indecision, the hesitancy that's synonymous with recruiting as well.

On top of that coach Willie Taggart was short on time. He was hired as WKU's head man just before Thanksgiving with only a few commits in his cupboard. On top of that, he didn't even have help until just before Christmas when he began adding assistant coaches.

Through it all, there was one person Taggart would call to lift his spirits. And in his country twang, Wilson Central (Tenn.) offensive lineman Cameron Clemmons would reassure his future coach that everything would be fine.

"Cam is the man," Taggart said. "He walks into this building, you'll say, 'you're right coach, he's the man.' More than anything, it's exciting because that kid really wanted to be here. The entire time, he didn't budge. Yeah, he looked other places, but he kept telling me, 'Coach I'm a Topper. Coach, I'm ready to chase greatness. Let's go catch it together. That was his attitude every time. I told him, I loved calling him because he brightened my day up."

Today, began with a bit of a downer, with the news that four-star target Brion carnes signed with Nebraska. But by his 3 pm CT press conference, Taggart was all smiles. Part of that was because of Clemmons, the highest rated of the 16 new additions Taggart announced today.

Clemmons is rated as the No. 11 prospect in Tennessee, as well as the No. 63 offensive tackle overall. Clemmons is also the headliner of Rivals' top recruiting class in the Sun Belt Conference.

And though Carnes opted elsewhere, there's plenty of reasons to be excited. Aside from Clemmons, there's the pair of quarterback additions in North Broward (Fla.) three-star Brandon Doughty and College of San Mateo (Calif.) two-star Matt Pelesasa. The two already fill a gaping hole at quarterback in which the only true quarterback is redshirt freshman Kawaun Jakes. Taggart said freshman Courtney Dalcourt will have a chance as well.

The new additions have made the quarterback position one of the biggest battles even heading into the spring. Pelesasa is already enrolled, having begin classes Jan. 25 with the spring semester. He'll participate in spring practice and could be the early favorite to start next season, partly based on his experience.

Another battle to look for will be in the secondary. The Toppers picked up six defensive backs, including three-stars Cam Thomas, the No. 50 prep school player, Jerome Speights and Xavius Boyd.

It was an area that was a weak spot last year, after WKU struggled against the pass and when opponents would get past the first and second levels of the defense.

But overall, it was an upgrade. Taggart said he was pleased with how the class will improve the talent level of the Toppers overall.

One area that certainly showed a significant boost was the speed. Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Eric Mathies said that objective was definitely met.

"They're fast enough," he said. "When you watch them on film, they're explosive. They have the ability to explode, the ability to hit and the ability to be physical."

Mathies, who was just named to the new staff right before Christmas, was an example of new area WKU is getting in to. Mathies had three signees from south Florida in Doughty, offensive lineman William Berner and wide receiver Joel German after having never really recruited that area.

One key addition to the staff was assistant coach Raymond Woodie, formerly the head coach at Palmetto (Fla.) His connections in the Tampa Bay area brought in six signees, including three-stars Speights and Xavius Boyd.

Taggart also showed he could draw interest from anyone. He offered and had return interest in a handful of Rivals250 prospects, getting an official visit from the four-star Carnes.

But as Taggart says, he's not backing down from anybody. And the expectations will be higher next year. Of course, Taggart will have more than two months to recruit.

"Me personally, I've always been that type to just not settle just for anything," he said. "People say you can't do anything, there's no one that can tell me what I can't do. I can do anything I put my mind to. That's the attitude I want with this football team. It's kinda part of me chasing greatness, not settling just for anything and building a bully. You're gonna need some of those guys."

One of those guys is Clemmons. Of course, Clemmons will still be available this time next year if Taggart needs any more assurance.

Click here for the full audio from Taggart and Mathies: WILLIE TAGGART, ERIC MATHIES SIGNING DAY RECAP


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