COMMENTARY: Carnes puts Western in on big-time recruiting stage

It’s typical for recruits to go back and forth on their school of choice heading toward National Signing Day, held annually on the first Wednesday in February.

When Rivals.com four-star quarterback Brion Carnes visited Western, and — via reports — narrowed his choices down to the Toppers and Nebraska, college football’s newest Football Bowl Subdivision member got its first taste of the big-time recruiting mix.

It’s just another step in becoming a full-fledged member of the FBS. Also why coach Willie Taggart was chosen for the job.

Without Taggart’s connections to the Bradenton, Fla., quarterback’s high school, Carnes wouldn’t have ever considered the Toppers. It will also be interesting to see how much having Raymond Woodie, a strong Florida presence on the Western staff, lured Carnes to campus last Saturday.

The Toppers toyed with some recruiting greatness last season, signing a class that totaled more than 25 members and ranked near the top in the Sun Belt Conference. The 2009 class brought in three Rivals three-star recruits, and if the latest reports are true, Carnes will become Western’s first four-star recruit.

Woodie’s name is attached to five of Western’s 2010 commitments — Carnes aside — and Taggart is looking at adding 13-15 scholarship players on Wednesday.

There probably won’t be Nebraska and Western hats on a table at Manatee High School Wednesday morning, sitting in front of TV cameras as the nation waits for a decision. But Carnes’ preference of Western over Nebraska lit a fire under Huskers fans as they wondered how a program with 20 straight losses could steal one of their top recruits.

Programs on the rise do that sometimes. Programs that have coaches with connections.

Programs like Western, which hope to surprise more people on the recruiting trail.

Carnes is a start, and as Taggart’s already shown, the first-year head coach knows how to finish.

Jonathan Lintner

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