2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 77 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
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No. 77: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Prespring Status
The program that was built up over the last several years cranked things up to another level last year, with two of the three losses by a total of four points, and the other to Alabama before going on an eight-game winning streak closed out with a Conference USA title and a bowl win over Memphis. The offense led the nation in scoring, the defense was second against the run in a dominant year.
But head coach Jeff Brohm took his fun to Purdue, and now it’s up to Mike Sanford to try keeping it all going without almost all the stars who made it happen. Just four starters are gone on D, but …
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Biggest Issue
The offense gets gutted. QB Mike White returns, but Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris are gone, along with their 174 catches, 2,048 yards and 31 touchdowns. In all, six of the top eight receivers are gone. Also taking off is Anthony Wales – he only ran for 1,621 yards and 27 scores and caught 30 passes. OT Forrest Lamp is a first-round NFL talent, but now he’s done along with two other starters up front. In all, seven offensive starters have to be replaced.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Biggest Positive
The basics are there. Again, some major weapons are gone, but White was fantastic throwing for 4,363 yards and 37 scores with just seven picks. Quinton Baker and Marquez Trigg are promising backs, and a few promising receivers should be able to help crank up the production. The O won’t be like it was over the last few years, but this is still going to be a strong, dangerous team.
Really, Why Are The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Ranked Here?
Even with a big step back, this should be one of Conference USA’s best teams again. Of course the coaching change matters, and of course both sides of the ball have to undergo an overhaul – Sanford should be able to keep the program bowling. But it won’t do a whole lot more.