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August 25, 2010

Andrews In First Practice As Topper

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He wanted to get out there and play, but he was content to spend another afternoon watching WKU practice for fall camp.

So imagine Antonio Andrews' surprise when he was finally given the go-ahead, after today's practice had started. InsideHilltopperSports.com had contacted Andrews, a transfer from Air Force, at 3:15. At that time, he had been admitted to WKU, but hadn't been cleared to play. That changed quickly.

"I was watching and (Coach Willie Taggart) came over and told me to go get dressed to practice, as soon as I got off the phone with you," Andrews said. "It wasn't even five minutes."

Andrews, last season's Kentucky Mr. Football award winner at Fort Campbell, is now officially a Topper. He committed to Air Force just before signing day, but had a change of heart this summer while at the Air Force Prep School, which each incoming cadet is required to attend.

"I kinda wanted to go here in the first place," Andrews said. "I just thought it'd be more beneficial when you think of things from a long-term perspective, it was the way to go. Once I got there, you can make your future wherever you go."

Taggart and the Toppers heavily recruited Andrews before signing day. His final two were WKU and Air Force. Taggart said after practice today that he was thrilled at the potential of getting Andrews again.

"I just told him we'll welcome him with open arms," Taggart said. "He wasn't happy where he was and he was a guy we were really high on. We came in and kept our fingers crossed and hoped it would happen and it did. I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed all the time now. I told him we'd welcome him with open arms."

Taggart said Andrews won't automatically be a redshirt, regardless of how close it is to the season opener at Nebraska. He said Andrews will start off as a running back, to fill some position needs.

"Whenever you get the player of the year, I don't care what state it is, whenever you can get that guy, it's exciting," Taggart said. "You know he's a really good football player. Now, as coaches, we've gotta see what he's really good at and see where he can help our football team and put him in the right place so he can do that."

Andrews played primarily quarterback at Fort Campbell, where he rushed for 1,597 yards and 29 touchdowns, and threw for another 1,667 yards and 28 touchdowns. The Falcons finished last season as Class 2A state champions after winning the championship at Houchens Industries-LT Smith Stadium.

With only three quarterbacks on the roster, there's a chance Andrews could go there as well.

"I'm running back, but I think they might try me at quarterback after I came off the field," Andrews said. "Wherever I'm needed, I'll play it to the best of my abilities and hopefully, that's good enough. I'm not shy getting after it one hundred percent. I just wanna be able to see the field early and make things happen."

Though today was Andrews' first practice, it wasn't too hard to get in the groove of things. There was some rust, but Andrews had the benefit of training in the thin air of the Rocky Mountains.

"I was in shape, because running in this air is nothing like at the Air Force Academy," Andrews said. "You're at 14,000 feet above sea level, as far as getting in shape up there. I'm already in shape, because after you get in shape up there, you're pretty much ready for anything that comes your way. It felt good to run in this kind of air, because up there, I'd be dying."

Now the two sides that were dying to have each other are finally together.


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