WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty overcomes injury, wins starting job




By Nick Gray | Sports Editor

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From 2009 to 2012, Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes started 44 games for the Hilltoppers.

But at one point during the 2011 season, Jakes’ job was wrestled away by redshirt freshman Brandon Doughty.

But after winning the position, Doughty suffered a season-ending injury and Jakes reclaimed the job. Now the rehabilitated Doughty has the chance to keep the WKU starting quarterback job — for good.

UK head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown are playing a game of cat-and-mouse by not naming a starting quarterback prior to the Cats’ season opener.

Both UK coaches have left WKU head coach Bobby Petrino without a specific quarterback to game plan against.

Meanwhile, Petrino decided on Monday to announce that Doughty, now a redshirt junior, will lead the Hilltoppers’ offense on Saturday night against the Cats in Nashville.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback from Davie, Fla., redshirted the 2010 season and fought his way onto the depth chart at the start of 2011 season behind Jakes.

Jakes struggled in the first two games, throwing four interceptions against UK in Nashville and passing for 51 yards in over two quarters of play against Navy. Then-WKU head coach Willie Taggert inserted Doughty in the third quarter after the last Hilltoppers drive ended with a Jakes interception.

Taggert decided to start Doughty for the following game versus Indiana State, and on 3rd-and-10 on WKU’s first offensive drive, Doughty scrambled toward the first down marker and fell out of bounds.

Jakes would come back into the game, throw for two touchdowns in the 44-16 loss and start every game for the Hilltoppers until his graduation. Doughty would be lost for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

“I don’t wish that upon anybody,” Doughty said to Chad Bishop of the Bowling Green Daily News about his injury. “It was a rough experience, but you just have to tell yourself every day to get better and work hard to actually see the whole picture. Sometimes you have to set short goals to achieve a big goal to get on the field.”

Doughty rehabilitated his knee throughout the rest of 2011 and the spring of 2012, returning to game action late in blowout wins against Austin Peay and Southern Mississippi in the 2012 season.

The starting quarterback job was open after 2012, and Doughty took control in the spring. Doughty passed for 314 yards and five touchdowns in the spring game and officially won the job Monday.

“He had a good camp and a good spring,” Petrino said on Monday. “He’s a young man who is very, very coachable. He really understands what we’re striving for. He does a nice job of getting the ball out and is an accurate thrower. And he’s done a nice job on his leadership.”

UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot was asked about Doughty after Tuesday’s practice.

“I don’t know a whole lot. We don’t have a lot of film from last year,” Eliot said. “I’ve read that he has done well in certain scrimmages. He’s had some good days and some bad days.”

When asked the same question, Stoops said he did not know much about Doughty either. The same went for junior defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith.

On Saturday, the Cats defense, Dupree and Smith included, will get well acquainted with the Hilltoppers’ new starting quarterback.