Yeast focusing recruiting in central Kentucky


Contributing Writer

The first time I saw Craig Yeast touch the football in a game for Harrodsburg, he was a freshman and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. It was immediately clear he might be small in his size but he was a big-time player and that never changed at Harrodsburg, the University of Kentucky, or when he played three years in the NFL and then four years in the Canadian Football League.

He’s made a slow, steady climb from high school coach to position coach in college to offensive coordinator in college. Now he’s become the head football coach at Kentucky Wesleyan.

“I am very excited to be a  head coach,” said Yeast. “It’s a great opportunity. It was an opportunity where they were looking to go a different direction at Wesleyan and it was a chance for me to get back to my home state. It just kind of worked out well. Both Wesleyan and me were looking for the same things. I’m just excited to have this chance.”

Yeast was receivers coach at Tiffin University and spent the last three years as offensive coordinator at Franklin College in Indiana where he had one of Division III’s most productive offenses. His son, Russ, is a freshman defensive back at Louisville and his daughter, Kiyah, is a standout track athlete who has some of the fastest times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the nation. She’ll stay in Indiana with Yeast’s wife, Tori, to finish high school (Tori Tillman Yeast was a state track champion at Danville High School and played basketball at Kentucky).

“Her recruiting has picked up for track and my wife made it pretty simple. She said, ‘Owensboro is in Kentucky. We love Kentucky. You need to get the job. I had to follow directions from my boss but it’s best for my daughter to stay in Indiana and graduate,” Yeast said. “Russ just said good luck and I am happy for you. He has his own stuff to worry about with a new coach.”

Look for Yeast and the staff he’s putting together to be in central Kentucky often looking for players for Division II Wesleyan. He quickly made scholarship offers to Zack Thornton of Danville, Aaron Hatter of Boyle County and Sawyer Carrier of Lincoln County.

“My areas to recruit will be Boyle, Mercer, Garrard, Lincoln, Washington, Jessamine, Woodford, Fayette and Clark counties,” Yeast said. “Everywhere in central Kentucky, I will recruit. Our coaches will be visible in central Kentucky. Our goal is to get as many central Kentucky kids on our roster as possible.

“We want to also go to other states to get young men to play for Wesleyan but I believe we can win with Kentucky kids and build a championship program. I am a Kentucky kid and playing for UK meant a lot to me.

“This area where we are has a lot of good football players. Middle Tennessee and (offensive coordinator) Tony Franklin have got a few guys from here but my goal is to get them to stay closer to home to play. I want to keep them here. If you can do that it will mean more to the players but also mean more to the fans and people who support the program to watch them play.”

Yeast was a big-time playmaker his entire career and his offense at Franklin County where he was offensive coordinator led Division III in total offense three straight seasons.

“I actually really enjoy running the football. I believe in balance, playing with great tempo and getting the ball to playmakers,” Yeast said. “The players we already have are excited and I am looking forward to getting you men who can help turn this program around. I am not worried about the past. I am focused on winning going forward. I can’t wait for spring practice so we can start working and getting better.”