WKU Football: Mid-Summer Recruiting Roundup (2024)

WKU Football: Mid-Summer Recruiting Roundup (1)

It has been a busy late-June week for Western Kentucky on the recruiting trail, with the Hilltoppers garnering four commitments since Saturday.

Two of the commitments will join the roster in about a month’s time, joining the 2023 class, while the other two are getting in on the ground floor of WKU’s 2024 class, which is now four athletes strong.

Lonnie Rice, LB

The standout get from the past week was in JUCO linebacker Lonnie Rice, ranked by 247Sports as the top junior college player in the state of Pennsylvania and the fifth-best JUCO LB.

WKU Football: Mid-Summer Recruiting Roundup (2)

Standing 6’0”, 220, the Lackawanna College (shoutout fellow The Office heads) standout totaled 39 tackles, 29 of which were solo and 12.5 came for a loss, with 4.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries last year for the Falcons. His 39 tackles were the second-highest on the team.

Rice’s road to the Hill has been long and winding: Prior to his time at LC, he played at Buffalo and was committed to Syracuse at the start of the year, but announced his decommittment in May.

A quick watch of his highlights and one thing is immediately clear: He plays at one speed, and it’s 100% downhill 100% of the time. He also can move around, slotting in both in the second level at middle linebacker and can bring quickness off the edge. Without having been able to see any of spring practice, I’m willing to bet the Tops’ slot him in ahead of either Aaron Key or Anthony Brackenridge, at least to start the fall, and if things go well he should be an instant impact addition to the roster.

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Tylon Webb, ATH

The second commitment from the weekend to WKU’s 2023 class is that of Lexington’s Tylon Webb, who kicked off the week of commitments Saturday afternoon.

WKU Football: Mid-Summer Recruiting Roundup (3)

An unranked prospect at 6’3”, 188 pounds, the Tops won out over Army, who he actually signed with back in January, Purdue, West Virginia and Ohio, just to name a few.

Playing both cornerback and wide receiver in high school, it appears the Black Knights wanted him as a wideout and I have no reason to think right now that the Tops won’t try to use him in the same way.

How impactful will he be in 2023? If I had to guess right now, I’d say not at all, considering how deep WKU’s receiving corps is entering the season, but I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

Edwin Moore Jr., DL

Before we talk about Moore, a 6’4”, 280-pound defensive lineman who committed to the Tops Tuesday, we have to talk about what might be the best “here are my top schools” photo ever.

WKU Football: Mid-Summer Recruiting Roundup (4)

Sure, MTSU is technically on the list, but with the burn mark over them, you may not as well have included them at all.

We should have known he was going to be a Hilltopper all along.

Not a lot is out there on Moore, and you can watch his highlight tape here. Off the line, he doesn’t move exceptionally well, but is big enough to barrel his way past his man to get his hands on whoever has the ball. There were a couple of plays where he was able to chase a player from the backfield and showed off a little bit of speed, but he’s more of a bruiser and will have to be taught a lot of finesse.

It doesn’t appear that Moore had previously committed to a program prior to WKU, unlike Rice and Webb, each of who had signed with different schools as early as May.

Kanye Gaines, LB

Rounding out the week’s commitments was that of Florida’s Kanye Gaines, a 6’4”, 215-pound edge linebacker.

WKU Football: Mid-Summer Recruiting Roundup (5)

WKU beat out FAU, North Alabama and UT Martin for his services, and 247Sports counts him as one of three members of the 2024 class (they have yet to update with Moore’s commitment).

Another prospect without much fanfare surrounding him (though he was name-checked in this story on Leesburg hiring former UCF quarterback Steven Moffett - no, not that Steven Moffett - as the program’s new head coach), Gaines’ physicality seems to be his specialty.

Call me crazy, but he doesn’t play to his size, though that could just be the quality/angle of the tape itself - the previously discussed Rice is shorter and just a few pounds heavier than Gaines but looks like the bigger, stronger player. That isn’t to say Gaines can’t grow into that in a year or two, but on tape, he just doesn’t pop the same way.

Are there any takeaways from these four commitments?

Honestly, it’s too early to tell. Recruiting, especially at a program like WKU, is always a crapshoot and that was before the transfer era (where the Tops actually make the more splashy additions).

Having said that, if the Tops even get a 25% hit rate on a successful player here (and my money would be on Rice coming in and being immediately impactful), that’s a success in my book.

If I had to prognosticate, I’d say at least one of these guys only spends one year on the Hill (Webb kind of feels like a one-year guy to me) while another could blossom into a productive three or four-year player (I’m kind of pulling for Moore on this one).

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WKU Football: Mid-Summer Recruiting Roundup (2024)
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