When it comes to experience at Western Michigan, not too many people know the program like Jamauri Bogan does.
Bogan, a three-star prospect from New Jersey, first committed to the Broncos in June of 2013. The iPhone 5S had yet to be released, Dwight Howard was entering free agency after his lone year with the Lakers, and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” reigned on top of the Billboard music charts.
A lot has changed in five years, but Bogan’s commitment to the program remains unchanged. In June 2013, P.J. Fleck was entering his initial season in Kalamazoo. Fast forward to August 2018, and head coach Tim Lester is preparing for his second season with Bogan on the roster.
Before Western Michigan kicks the season off against Syracuse on August 31, Bogan ranks eighth all-time in program rushing yards. For each of his previous three seasons with the Broncos, he teamed up with power runner Jarvion Franklin. Franklin, Western Michigan’s all-time leading rusher, signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent following the draft.
Now is Bogan’s time to shine.
Despite sharing carries with Franklin, Bogan experienced plenty of highs from 2015 to 2017. He surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier in his freshman season, pairing that accomplishment with 16 touchdowns. To ice the cake on the season, Bogan earned MAC Freshman of the Year honors and snatched the Bahamas Bowl MVP in 215-yard, 4-touchdown effort versus Middle Tennessee.
Bogan started 2016 by rushing over the century mark in four consecutive contests. Injuries hampered the middle part of the season, but the 5’8” back revitalized his season with a 198-yard performance to earn the MAC West title in a showdown with Toledo. While Franklin always brought the power and tackle shedding abilities to the backfield, Bogan served as a perfect foil with his agility and elusiveness.
In a rebuilding year, Western Michigan suffered key losses including Fleck, Zach Terrell, Taylor Moton, and Corey Davis, and Bogan’s numbers also took a slight dive. He saw action in nine games and compiled 589 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Then, a foot injury struck and held Bogan out of the final three matchups of the year — as a result of numerous injuries, Western Michigan finished 6-6 and failed to receive a bowl invite.
2018 is a brand new year for the Broncos. Offensively, their strongest asset should be the running game. At full strength, Bogan is as talented as any current running back in the conference and has demonstrated his skills as early as his freshman campaign in 2015. Bogan will share some of the work with junior LeVante Bellamy, who averaged 8.0 yards per carry in six outings last season.
On the line, Chukwuma Okorafor and Taylor Moton — two successful offensive tackles — have departed from the program, but the line still retains several veterans including First Team All-MAC selection John Keenoy.
One other aspect of a running back that Bogan could see major improvement on in 2018 is the receiving game. Western Michigan scarcely utilizes him as a receiver. Through three years, Bogan has caught only nine passes for 70 yards. He shares a similar build to Darren Sproles and possesses dangerous speed, so the Broncos’ offense could improve by implementing Bogan into screen plays.
Overall, if Bogan avoids injuries, his numbers should mirror the results he posted in 2015 and 2016. He’s a proficient speed back and has the talent to boost the offense and bring Western Michigan back to a bowl-caliber level.
In the rushing game, Bogan is less than 1,200 yards from etching his name into third behind Franklin (2014-17) and Jerome Persell (1976-78) on the Broncos’ historical list, so the positive mark he’s already left on this program is indelible.