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Western Kentucky Sign 23 in Historic 2018 Class

The Tops add some significant numbers to their roster in an effort to bounce back in the new year.

Louisiana Tech v Western Kentucky

WKU took advantage of the early signing period with 13 signees. Well, 15 if you count the additions of Shannon Bishop and Nazir Sy, who signed in that period but chose not to announce it.

In that time, the recruiting team was busy and added 8 (not including Traynor and Bishop) more commits. As of NSD, WKU’s recruiting class is ranked #78 in the country and #3 in C-USA according to 247 Sports. As far as that service is concerned, this is the highest ranked recruiting class in the history of WKU football.

There are some names in here that WKU fans should get familiar with now, as they’ll be making a bigger impact in the future. Overall, Mike Sanford needed some big talented bodies to replace guys like Mike White and Joel Iyiegbuniwe and he seems to have stepped up in that department.

Let’s dive in a little deeper with the new Tops announced on Wednesday.

Note: I’ve already covered many of these players when they originally made their verbal commitments to WKU, so forgive me if I’m retreading ground a bit here.

Kawan Williams - 2-Star Receiver

The Savannah, Georgia product is six feet tall and 174 pounds. In his two seasons on his high school varsity team, he had 1,397 all-purpose yards (433 rushing, 395 receiving, 385 kick return, 143 punt return) with 15 total touchdowns. He actually played quarterback as a senior and threw for 843 yards and 11 touchdowns. Williams played a little DB as well. Takeaways for me are that he’s clearly versatile, has a decent top speed, and good vision as a ball carrier. He probably needs to pack on just a bit more weight in order to increase his durability, however. Williams also had offers from Ball State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern and Georgia State.

Tre Leslie - 3-Star Linebacker

This Tucker, Georgia linebacker was certainly productive in his junior season totaling 82 tackles, three sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. His senior year, he had 44 tackles and an interception. He’s six feet tall, 210 pounds, and picked WKU over offers from App State, Georgia Southern, Chattanooga, and Middle Tennessee. He’s quick for an inside backer so he’ll fit well with what Tops fans are used to seeing out of the position. As linebackers coach Maurice Crum put it, “we got ourselves a hammer.”

Deporess Schletty - 3-Star Defensive Tackle

The 6’2” 275 pound tackle from Alpharetta, Georgia has great feet and he’s quick for his size, which makes him a problem as a pass rusher. Schletty chose WKU over 20 other offers and totaled 33 tackes (seven for a loss) and 2.5 sacks in 2016. As a senior, he forced three fumbles, had two sacks, and 18 more tackles. He earned a spot in the Georgia Elite Classic after his junior campaign. Defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey stated that he brings “a lot of versatility to our room being that he can play inside at the three technique position but he can also help us as an end.”

Garland LaFrance - 3-Star Running Back

The running back came from the same program that produced Leonard Fournette, so take that for what it’s worth. He was the #51 recruit in Louisiana and the #70 running back in the nation according to 247 Sports. LaFrance picked WKU over offers from 15 other schools. He’s got great balance, some really impressive athletic ability (demonstrated by how many times he hurdles people in his highlight tape), and looks line a durable runner. The coaching staff also indicated that he’ll be utilized in the kick return game, which only seems natural.

Anthony Spurlock - 3-Star Receiver

Another New Orleans product, Spurlock was a back-to-back 4A State Champion in high school. WKU Offensive coordinator Junior Adams believes that the new Top will be able to help the offense “stretch the field vertically.” Spurlock had 16 other reported offers including Texas Tech, TCU, Toledo, and Troy.

Mason Brooks - 2-Star Offensive Tackle

A late January commit, WKU was Brooks’ only FBS offer. He’s obviously no slouch though, as he earned First Team All-District 19-5A honors two straight seasons playing on the o-line. I see him as a tackle with that height and wing span, personally. He’s an aggressive run blocker and a smart young man, so new offensive line coach T.J. Woods has something good to work with when he gets to campus.

B.J. (Avonta) Crim - 3-Star Safety

Crim had 14 other offers including some big names like Notre Dame, UCF, Louisville, Iowa State, Rutgers, Florida Atlantic and Marshall. He’s got good tackling form from what I’ve seen of him and his “taller than your average corner” height will serve him well at the next level.

Jay Gibson - 3-Star Tight End

Gibson was a First Team Division-II-3A East/Middle Region selection as a senior in his home state of Tennessee. He genuinely reminds me of some other great WKU tight ends in Jack Doyle and Mitchell Henry, if not a little faster. He may not see time right away with the tight end position somewhat log jammed right now though.

Shannon Bishop - 2-Star Corner

The Louisville native committed to WKU all the way back in July of 2017. He was the team captain at Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, earned Class 6A All-District 3 honors as a senior, and caught 24 balls for 697 yards and seven touchdowns that year as a receiver. He also returned kicks and played corner. Defensively, he had 38 tackles and two picks last season. He’s fast and versatile, which seems to be a common theme in the athletes Clayton White wants as defensive backs.

Nazir Sy - 3-Star Defensive Tackle

At 6’2” and 326 pounds, Sy adds some size to an already deep position group for WKU. Sy actually weighs more than any other defensive lineman on the current roster and would be the second biggest player on the team this year. In his extremely productive junior year at Norcross High School in Georgia, he racked up 50 tackles and eight sacks. With that combo of size and strength, he proves to be a great run stopper plugging up the middle. Sy also had offers from East Carolina, Georgia State, Memphis, Tulane, and Wisconsin.

A few other notes about this class...

With quarterback signee Kevaris Thomas getting upgraded to a 4-star ranking, he becomes the first recruit with such a ranking to sign with WKU out of high school.

WKU has 2 scholarships left that the coaching staff can use on transfers before the 2018 season.

17 recruits in this class were 3-star recruits or better. Last year, they signed eight players of such caliber. From 2012-2016, WKU signed 25 total recruits of three stars or better.