MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Eastern Michigan. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
Insert football joke here. Just get it out of the way. I'll wait!
No, EMU football hasn't had much to cheer about since 1987, when they won the MAC and the California Bowl, their most recent postseason game. What they have had, however, has been a handful of NFL Draft picks, some long careers, and even a couple guys who were able to dump Gatorade on their coach after a Super Bowl victory.
And for the purposes of this MACwood Squares exercise, you just know that a couple men will be put on the board. But which ones? And what's more important: NFL exposure to improve EMU's stock, or prolific numbers within the confines of Rynearson Field?
QBs Walter Church and Charlie Batch — Here's a classic example. Most people have heard of one of these guys, but in actuality they were both NFL prospects. And their careers overlapped for two years, meaning in the mid-90s there was sort of a quarterback controversy in Ypsilanti. I know, right? Batch held down the starting job in 1995 and 1997, but Church had it in 1996 and then, after Batch left, from 1998-2000. Church had 9,142 passing yards is an EMU best (over 1,500 more than Batch) and also holds the attempts and completions marks. And yet Batch had more touchdowns: 53 in his career to Church's 43. Batch also wins on completion percentage (58% to 56%) and obviously had the better NFL career, as in he had one.
RB Gary Patton — From 1984 to 1987, Patton set and still holds the all-time rushing records: 3,497 yards, rushing touchdowns (31), and all-purpose yards (5,533). In 1986 and 1987 he was voted an All-America honorable mention by the AP.
OTs L.J. Shelton and T.J. Lang — Basically, if you had initials, you made it to the pros. Shelton was named third team All-American by the Football News in 1998, and that parlayed to a first-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 1999. He bounced around from Arizona to Cleveland, Miami, and most recently San Diego. Lang didn't have as great a career in EMU — second team All-MAC, for rills — but he was drafted by the Packers in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft and worked his way into playing for the Super Bowl-winning team.
WRs Eric Deslauriers and Kevin Walter — The difference is purely NAFTA-related. Both of them are basically one-two in every major receiving category. The Quebec-born Deslauriers went to the CFL and still plays for the Montreal Alouettes. Walter was the eighth-to-last pick in the 2003 NFL Draft and is with the Houston Texans.
DL David Pureifory — We're going way back on this one. Pureifory played in EMU's final NAIA days. He was named to numerous All-American teams in 1970-71 that included NAIA schools and then became a Green Bay Packer in the 1972 Draft. He played for 11 seasons, including being a hellacious pass rusher for the Detroit Lions in the early 80s.
CB Ron Johnson — Another classic player, Johnson racked up two first team All-MAC awards, as well as third team All-American by the AP. He also played seven years with the Steelers, backing up the famed Steel Curtain defense.
Who's the best? Vote or write-in another player in the comments.
Any other nominees for Eastern Michigan's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.