With a long recruiting process starting to become a bit tiresome, O'Fallon High School record-setting quarterback Todd Porter became energized Thursday after a home visit from new Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino.
The visit went so well that the quarterback gave a verbal commitment to Western Kentucky and Petrino, hired at WKU following his stint at Arkansas.
"It's been a long and arduous process," O'Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said of Porter's recruiting. "I'm sure he wanted a little bit of closure. I think he felt comfortable with the offense they're running and the offensive coordinator they've got in place also played a role in it, too."
It was Petrino's first quarterback commitment at his new school.
O'Fallon punter Austin Barnes gave a verbal commitment to Division I Eastern Michigan and Panthers offensive tackle Charles Harmon has committed to Division I South Dakota State.
O'Fallon's all-state receiver Darius Mosely committed to Illinois last summer and enrolled at the Champaign-Urbana campus at the start of the second semester.
Porter (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) passed for 3,009 yards and 22 touchdowns this season while leading the Panthers (8-3) to the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs.
"Western Kentucky just kind of came out of the blue," Joggerst said. "He's been talking to schools for two years and going to one-day camps and throwing in front of people, so there was a wait there for a while."
Among Porter's 20 scholarship offers were offers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Murray State, Northern Iowa, Florida Atlantic, Western Illinois and many more.
Petrino was hired at Western Kentucky on Dec. 10. In four years at Arkansas, he coached the Razorbacks to a 34-17 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2011. He left Arkansas in April 2012 after being embroiled in a non-football related scandal.
Before that Petrino also had success as the head coach at Louisville, taking that team to the 2007 Sugar Bowl.
Petrino's career coaching record is 75-26 with bowl game appearance in seven of his eight seasons as a head coach.
Porter threw for a school-record 3,009 yards and 22 touchdowns this season, completing 209-of 342 passes. He also holds most of the single-season and career passing records at O'Fallon after completing 399-of-692 for 6,281 yards and 45 TDs in three years as a starter.
"What tipped the balance I think was getting a chance to play under Coach Petrino and Coach (Jeff) Brohm, who played in the NFL for nine years and is the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach," Joggerst said. "I definitely think that played into it."
Barnes was the News-Democrat's first-team All-Area punter after averaging 44.86 yards on 28 punts. He also booted four field goals and 36 extra-points for the Panthers, earning plenty of recruiting attention.
"He had a lot of preferred walk-on opportunities at some really big schools, but I don't think he wanted to run the risk of that because you never know what's going to happen," Joggerst said of Barnes, who had preferred walk-on offers from Alabama, Miami and Minnesota.
Instead, he chose a scholarship offer from Eastern Michigan, which plays in the Mid-America Conference. Others offers came from Florida Atlantic, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee-Martin, Dayton and Alabama State.
"I don't think he wanted to run the risk of waiting, because schools are only taking one kicker and most of them aren't taking any," Joggerst said. "It's 100 percent paid for and that's hard to pass up."
Joggerst said Barnes (6-0, 185) will have a chance to be the punter and also handle kickoff duties.
Harmon (6-5, 240) is headed to South Dakota State in the Missouri Valley Conference.
"He had some other Division I offers, but he liked the fit there," Joggerst said.