Western Kentucky’s hire of Jeff Brohm to replace football coach Bobby Petrino provides the program with some continuity, including on the recruiting trail.
Bowling Green senior receiver Nacarius Fant, a WKU commit, said he plans to attend the school no matter what, but that he was hopeful the job would go to Brohm, who’s currently the Hilltoppers’ offensive coordinator.
“I have as much confidence in coach Brohm as I do in coach Petrino,” said Fant, the 2013 Kentucky Mr. Football. “It’s going to be the same offense. We’re going to bring in a good class. I’ve been talking to them, and most of them are going to stay. A big reason was Petrino, but in the back of my head, I knew coach Brohm would take over if he ever left.”
Brohm was largely considered the leading candidate at WKU to replace Petrino, who was introduced Thursday as the new coach at Louisville.
Brohm’s hire pleases many members of WKU’s recruiting class, including the two local commits – Fant and South Warren linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe. Brohm has been the primary recruiter for both.
“He’s a guy that’s straight-forward with you,” Fant said. “He’s going to tell you how it is. He’s honest about players. I have as much confidence in him as anybody. I still haven’t played for him, and I’m sure he’s going to get after you a little bit, but at the end of the day, he’s going to make you better.”
Fant verbally committed to WKU in June. His only other Division I offer was from Illinois, but even if Petrino and Louisville came calling, he said he’s staying a Hilltopper.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 175-pound receiver is rated a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout. He’s the first Mr. Football winner to commit to WKU out of high school.
Iyiegbuniwe, a 6-2, 205-pound linebacker, verbally committed to WKU on Dec. 5. He also had offers from Indiana State and Southern Illinois.
“I really wish coach Petrino would’ve stayed,” Iyiegbuniwe said. “That’s disappointing, but I’m still a Hilltopper and still excited to see what the future has for me on the Hill.”
The Hilltoppers had 27 incoming prospects as of Thursday afternoon, according to Scout, including verbal commits and signed junior-college transfers. Fant said he’s talked to most of the players in the recruiting class, and that many support Brohm as the next coach.
It’s unknown how many – if any – of Petrino’s assistants at WKU will follow him to Louisville.
“The good thing is that I think a lot of these kids made a commitment to the program, and they like where the program is,” WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said Thursday via teleconference. “They like our facilities. There has been dialogue with our coaches to the recruits. Certainly right now they’re in a wait-and-see mode in terms of what direction we go.
“But I’m confident in terms of us being prepared for this scenario, should it have unfolded, and I think what will end up being our ability to act in a fairly quick manner, that it will not have any negative effect on recruiting.”
Petrino said Thursday he would begin the recruiting process immediately but did not say whether or not he would pursue any of WKU’s verbal commits.
One player potentially interested in joining him is Topper commit D’Andre Ferby, a three-star running back out of Ensworth High School in Nashville. Ferby said if Petrino and Louisville were to show interest, he would likely explore that option before signing day.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound Ferby said Petrino and assistant Mike Cassity were two of his main influences at WKU, along with running backs coach Kolby Smith, who was a former Petrino running back himself. Smith handled Ferby’s in-home visit.
“Coach Petrino and coach Kolby Smith were probably – along with coach Cassity – the main reasons I committed to WKU,” Ferby said. “They were really big on me. Just by them leaving, it opens my eyes a little bit. But I’ve been talking to the other guys, and they seem pretty confident in coach Brohm. I’m just waiting to see what happens. If they come after me, I’ll obviously give it some thought, because it’s coach Petrino, and his history with big running backs like myself.”
But Ferby said he doesn’t have that same personal relationship with Brohm yet.
“I don’t know much,” he said. “They’ve been telling me about him. When we played Trinity, they said he was at the game, and he was really big on me. But I’ve never talked to him through phone conversations.”
Iyiegbuniwe said he hopes his fellow WKU commits will take the time to build relationships with Brohm and not make any rash decisions.
“I think it would be fun if this class could stay together and not break up,” Iyiegbuniwe said.