He was the successor selected to replace Western Michigan’s all-time passing leader in Zach Terrell. He was the bridge to transition the Broncos from the P.J. Fleck era into the Tim Lester era. Now, he is the senior captain aiming to carry Western Michigan back to the elite level the program stood at during his redshirt freshman year.
Entering his senior season, Jon Wassink has only played 17 games of college football. But in that relatively small sample size, the quarterback from Grand Rapids, MI, has showed flashes of greatness.
Wassink is one of the more accurate and adept decision-making quarterbacks in the conference. Through 17 starts, he has completed 62.8% of his passes while throwing 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. As a sophomore, Wassink passed for 1,391 yards in eight games before elevating that number to 1,994 in nine games as a junior. His efficiency rating increased, as well as his average yards per attempt.
Wassink began frequenting longer passes more often as a junior while becoming more comfortable in the pocket. He shattered his career-high in passing yards in the home opener against Syracuse, throwing for 379 yards and three touchdowns in a shootout loss to the Orange. That personal record would be broken just four weeks later when Wassink tore up Miami (OH)’s secondary with 439 passing yards, five passing touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a game-winning rushing touchdown in a 40-39 win in Oxford.
He enjoyed several other standout games in his shortened junior campaign, including a 20-of-25 passing performance with three touchdowns against Georgia State and rushing for three touchdowns against rival Central Michigan.
The 6’2” quarterback operates as a powerful runner, too, often plowing his way for extra yards in short-yardage situations. Wassink has 288 rushing yards to his name on 87 attempts, complete with nine touchdowns. During his junior season, he was occasionally used as a receiver in trick plays, catching two touchdown passes from 27 and 13 yards each.
Modern-day John Elway: WMU QB Jon Wassink scrambles for a first down on critical 4th & 10, helicopters during the fight for extra yards. Wow. pic.twitter.com/Ay1aLseF2w— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) September 29, 2018
Availability has been the most difficult part of Wassink’s career in Kalamazoo. In two consecutive seasons, Wassink suffered season-ending injuries in October after guiding Western Michigan to successful starts to the year. He has never played a collegiate game in November or December.
In 2017, a collarbone injury in an October 21 win over Eastern Michigan sidelined the quarterback for the rest of the season. The win improved Western Michigan to 5-3, but with Wassink absent to conclude the year, the Broncos finished 6-6 and were spurned of a bowl invite.
In 2018, a right foot injury on the first possession of an October 25 loss to Toledo ended Wassink’s promising campaign. Entering the game, Western Michigan hoisted a 6-2 record but it stumbled to the finish line. The Broncos qualified for bowl eligibility but fared 1-4 in games Wassink didn’t receive the majority of snaps at quarterback.
Thus, in games where Wassink leads the Broncos in snaps, Western Michigan owns an 11-5 record. However, that mark decreases to 2-7 when he sits out due to injury. To say Wassink’s availability has a positive impact on this team is an understatement. Having already obtained an undergraduate degree in business, Wassink will operate under center for one more season in Kalamazoo, hoping to build on the potential and progress established in his first 17 starts.