BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Football wrapped up its sixth team practice on Tuesday at
Houchens-Smith Stadium, where a consistent cloud cover provided the coolest morning
of fall camp yet for the Hilltoppers.
On the offensive side of the ball, WKU plans to turn up the temperature with
wideouts like Jacquez Sloan, who returns healthy for his junior season after
recovering from an injury that he suffered near the end of 2018. In his first two
years on The Hill, the Atlanta, Ga., native played in 18 games, hauling in 43
receptions for 677 yards and two touchdowns.
“Camp is going great, I love the new coaches and the new system. We want to have
everything working like a well-oiled machine,” he said. “We like throwing the deep
ball and there’s a lot of motions to get players in the open field in this
Sure to be a key cog in that “machine” will be the tight ends group, led by position
coach Zach Lankford.
In his ninth year of coaching, Lankford returns to The Hill for his fourth season
with the Hilltoppers. From 2014-16, he served as offensive graduate assistant and
quality control and worked closely with the offensive line, as WKU combined to go
31-10 with two Conference USA championships and three bowl victories.
“The guys are all doing a good job buying in, trying to learn and getting better
every day,” he said. “We ask a lot of those guys but they have been up to the task
so far. We’re going to continue to push those guys and strive to be the best unit we
Lankford continued: “We know the legacy of tight ends at this school. We know the
guys who have come before us, so we’re trying our very hardest to live up to that
and be the next great players. The opportunities are there as long as these guys
learn what to do and continue to work, because they do have the talent.”
That “legacy” includes former tight ends such as Mik’Quan Deane, Deon Yelder, Tyler
Higbee, Jack Doyle and Mitchell Henry – all of whom have suited up for the
Hilltoppers in the past decade.
This season’s crop of tight ends is spearheaded by John Mackey Award Preseason Watch
List member, junior Kyle Fourtenbary. But like many of the WKU groups, talent is
deep at the position, featuring redshirt freshmen Joey Beljan and Jay Gibson, true
freshmen Joshua Simon and Dalvin Smith, along with junior Steven Witchoskey.
“This offense uses tight ends a lot and everyone has bought in, we’re just trying to
learn more of the offense and get those mechanics down,” Witchoskey said. “The guys
who have been through this program are legendary. Of course, we would like to carry
on that legacy and we’re just going to keep grinding to try and win a