If you watched the Western Michigan Broncos past two seasons you probably saw #57 flying around making great plays on defense. If you’re a fan of Western you might be a little worried this year when you see that there is no #57 on defense anymore.
But fear not. That great defensive end hasn’t gone anywhere.
Ali Fayad, now a junior, has just forgone his old #57 for the 2019 season and will be sporting the #1 jersey instead.
Fayad, a product of Dearborn, Michigan, originally signed with in-state rival EMU before decomitting and heading to Kalamazoo to play for the Broncos. In his final year at Dearborn High, he amassed 60 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, and 17 sacks.
That kind of production caught the eye of Bronco coaches, who weren’t afraid to use him immediately.
In 2017, as a true freshman, he played in 12 games - starting three - and netted 20 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and forced a fumble.
And last season he did even better. Fayad finished the 2018 campaign as the Broncos’ eighth leading tackler, with 34 stops. He was their strongest player up front by far, leading the team in sacks (7.5), tackles for a loss (12), forced fumbles (4) and QB hurries (5). His 7.5 sacks was good enough for sixth best in the MAC, while his 12 TFLs ranked tenth in the conference.
And, as the season went on, he seemed to get better and better.
In the final three games of the season he recorded nearly a third of his stats. Fayad tallied 10 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and 3.5 sacks in that span, with his performance against NIU in the season finale being his best of the year. Against the Huskies he had four tackles, a pair of TFLs, sacked Marcus Childers twice, and forced a fumble.
If this trend continues, which it should (as he now has more experience and a slew of talent lining up next to him), Fayad is primed to have an even better season this year.
It’s a safe bet to think that he’ll be able to get into the opponent’s backfield even faster in 2019 and that should solidify his position as one of the MAC’s best pass rushers.