Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

AJ McCarron, Ryan Kelly
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57 centers named to Rimington Award spring watch list

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  The first watch list of the offseason has arrived.

The first for that honor this year is the Rimington Award, which on Tuesday released its spring watch list that is 57 players strong.  The Rimington Award, named in honor of former Nebraska standout Dave Rimington, is presented annually to the top center in the nation and is determined by the consensus All-American center pick from three existing All-America teams — Walter Camp. Sporting News and FWAA.

None of the finalists for the 2015 award, won by Alabama’s Ryan Kelly, are included on this year’s initial watch list as all three have since moved on with expired eligibility.

The ACC and SEC pace all conferences with eight watch listers apiece, followed by the AAC and Big 12 with seven each.  The Big Ten placed six, while the Pac-12’s three was the least of all of the Power Five programs.

All 10 of the FBS leagues, plus one independent (Notre Dame), are represented on the spring watch list, the full roster of which appears below.

AAC
Deyshawn Bond, Cincinnati, senior
Ryan Crozier, UConn, redshirt sophomore
Will Noble, Houston, sophomore
Drew Kyser, Memphis, sophomore
Evan Brown, SMU, junior
Brendan McGowan, Temple, redshirt senior
Chandler Miller, Tulsa, sophomore

ACC
Jay Guillermo, Clemson, senior
Alec Eberle, Florida State, redshirt sophomore
Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech, redshirt senior
Nicholas Linder, Miami, junior
Lucas Crowley, North Carolina, senior
Alex Officer, Pittsburgh, redshirt junior
Jason Emerich, Syracuse, redshirt senior
Jackson Matteo, Virginia, senior

BIG TEN
Joe Spencer, Illinois, senior
Sean Welsh, Iowa, junior
Brendan Moore, Maryland, sophomore
Mason Cole, Michigan, junior
Dylan Utter, Nebraska, senior
Michael Dieter, Wisconsin, sophomore

BIG 12
Kyle Fuller, Baylor, senior
Dalton Risner, Kansas State, sophomore
Jonathan Alvarez, Oklahoma, junior
Brad Lundblade, Oklahoma State, junior
Austin Schlottman, TCU, junior
Tony Morales, Texas Tech, senior
Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia, redshirt senior

CONFERENCE USA
Michael Montero, FIU, senior
Dillon DeBoer, FAU, redshirt senior
Daniel Stephens, Middle Tennessee State, senior
Nick Clarke, Old Dominion, sophomore
Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, senior
Max Halpin, Western Kentucky, redshirt senior

MAC
Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green redshirt junior
James O’Hagan, Buffalo, sophomore

MOUNTAIN WEST
Jake Bennett, Colorado State, junior
Asotui Eli, Hawaii, redshirt sophomore
Nathan Goltry, Nevada, senior
Arthur Flores, San Diego State, senior
Austin Stephens, Utah State, senior

PAC-12
Toa, Lobendahn, USC, junior
Coleman Shelton, Washington, junior
Riley Sorenson, Washington State, senior

SEC
Frank Ragnow, Arkansas, junior
Brandon Kublanow, Georgia, senior
Jon Toth, Kentucky, senior
Ethan Pocic, LSU, senior
Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State, senior
Robert Conyers, Ole Miss, senior
Alan Knott, South Carolina, redshirt junior
Coleman Thomas, Tennessee, junior

SUN BELT
Devin Mondie, Arkansas State, senior
Andy Kwon, Georgia Southern, senior
Gabe Mobley, Georgia State, sophomore
Steve Matlock, Idaho, senior

INDEPENDENTS
Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame, junior

Report: Wisconsin paying WKU $1.35 million for 2018 game

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 27:  An overall of Camp Randall Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)
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The Wisconsin Badgers will be hosting Western Kentucky in Camp Randall Stadium to open the 2018 college football season. That is old news that was reported a few weeks ago. Now we know just how much that opening game is going to cost Wisconsin.

According to a Wisconsin State-Journal report, Wisconsin will pay Western Kentucky of Conference USA $1.35 million to make the trip to Madison. Per the Wisconsin paper, the $1.35 million price tag is the most expensive to date for Wisconsin for a game of this type. Wisconsin will also pay $1.2 million each to Utah State and FAU in 2017 and another $1.2 million each to New Mexico in 2018 and North Texas  in 2019. So it is not quite that much of a leap when discussing the price of paying for a guaranteed home game with no return trip.This actually appears to be the going rate for a power conference school scheduling a non-power conference program.

This actually appears to be the going rate for a power conference school scheduling a non-power conference program. The prices for guaranteed games will continue to rise with the market as well, but how a growing divide between power and non-power conferences could lead to some interesting negotiations in the future. Will some Group of Five schools have some more bargaining power as power conference programs look to build stronger schedules? Maybe, but likely not. Schools from power conferences may be willing to pay for better competition from the Group of Five (which Western Kentucky certainly qualifies right now) than bottom feeders, but when push comes to shove and you need to fill a spot on the schedule, the cheaper alternative may win out often enough.

WKU early enrollee Quinton Baker charged with drunk driving, pot possession

BOWLING GREEN, KY - DECEMBER 5:  Players of the WKU Hilltoppers celebrate with their fans after a game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagle at Houchens-Smith Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers defeated the Golden Eagles 45-28.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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Quinton Baker got an early start on his collegiate career a couple of months ago, and now, as it turned out, he’s gotten a headstart on his arrest résumé well.

The Bowling Green Daily News is reporting that Baker was arrested very early Sunday morning on multiple charges following a traffic stop. The Western Kentucky running back was officially charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, possession of marijuana, possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a motor vehicle, careless driving, instructional permit violations and failure to produce insurance card.

From the Daily News‘ report:

Baker submitted to (Modified Romberg Test) and during MRT he exhibited multiple clues (consistent) with marijuana use,” the officer wrote in the report. “During a search of the vehicle I located a zip lock bag with marijuana inside of it in the door panel of the driver’s door. There was also marijuana shake and residue throughout the vehicle and a 40oz open can of Bud Light Platinum was located in the back passenger floorboard.

The football program has yet to comment publicly on the situation.

The 5-8, 192-pound Baker was a three-star member of WKU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 19 all-purpose back in the country according to 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings. Baker was an early enrollee, but missed time during spring practice because of a foot injury.

Wisconsin to open 2018 season vs. Western Kentucky

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 27:  An overall of Camp Randall Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)
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For those clamoring for Wisconsin to open a season against a Conference USA school your wish has been granted.

UW announced in a press release that it will kick off the 2018 season against Western Kentucky.  The game will be played at Camp Randall Stadium Sept 1 of that year.

That game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.  It also wraps up the Badgers’ non-conference schedule for the next four years (2016-19).  UW had previously announced games against LSU (2016) and BYU (2017, 2018) during that same span.

In conjunction with the football announcement, the school also announced a home-and-home series in men’s basketball against WKU in 2017 and 2018.

Western Kentucky adds Wake grad transfer Steve Donatell

Steve Donatell
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Western Kentucky went into the 2016 offseason knowing it would need to replace four graduating tight ends, including Tyler Higbee, widely considered one of the top prospects at the position in the upcoming NFL draft.  Thanks in part to an addition from outside the program, the team has taken at least a small step toward helping to potentially replace the lost production.

In a conversation with the Bowling Green Daily News, Steve Donatell confirmed that he had decided to leave Wake Forest and transfer to WKU.  Donatell is coming to the Hilltoppers as a graduate transfer, which means he’ll b eligible to play right away for what will be his final season of eligibility.

Donatell’s father, Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, was a defensive assistant at Pacific in the mid-eighties and one of the players on that side of the ball was Nick Holt, WKU’s defensive coordinator.  It was a couple of offensive-minded coaches, however, that sealed player’s transfer decision.

“Right away, talking to [tight ends] coach [Tony] Levine, he seemed like a good guy and a good coach,” Donatell told the Daily News. “Obviously with his past coaching experience, and then getting to know [head] coach [Jeff] Brohm, he was very impressive as well.”

Donatell began his career at Wake as a linebacker, starting the first three games of his redshirt freshman season at the position before a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of 2013.  The 6-6, 230-pound senior moved to tight end in spring practice last year and caught three passes for 31 yards.