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Former MAC DPOY Treshaun Hayward transfers to Arizona

The Western Michigan tackling machine has his sights set on the wild west.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 04 Western Michigan at Akron Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The transfer portal gains increasing utilization year after year. Following four seasons at Western Michigan, inside linebacker Treshaun Hayward has made the complete journey through the portal.

Despite completing his senior year in December, Hayward will have another go-around with senior status in 2021 due to the NCAA extending eligibility for all 2020 fall athletes. The former Bronco linebacker will complete his additional season out west in Tucson, where he plans to suit up for the Arizona Wildcats as a graduate student athlete.

Hayward entered the transfer portal on Dec. 13 and announced his decision Monday afternoon on Twitter, thanking Western Michigan coaches for his development over the past four years:

Hayward’s tenure at Western Michigan will best be defined by a breakout 2019 season where he won MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Prior to the season, Hayward only started one game as a Bronco. His production flew off the charts and he ranked third in the entire FBS with 142 tackles and fifth with 73 solo tackles. Adding to those monstrous numbers, Hayward contributed 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks and landed on the All-MAC First Team and Sporting News’ All-American Second Team.

The star linebacker continued his run of success during the MAC’s abbreviated 2020 season. Guiding Western Michigan to a 4-2 record, Hayward nearly averaged 10 tackles per game and collected 3.5 tackles for loss during his final stint in Kalamazoo, garnering a Third Team All-MAC selection. As a Ypsilanti, MI native, it will be quite a change in scenery for the former Bronco, who played his entire football career in the state of Michigan.

Hayward will be a member of Jedd Fisch’s inaugural team at Arizona. Fisch took over the head coaching reigns of the program in December after the Wildcats slumped to an underwhelming 0-5 record in 2020 under Kevin Sumlin. Arizona is slated to open its 2021 season in neutral site action in Las Vegas, facing BYU in the first collegiate game played at Allegiant Stadium.

Factoring in Hayward’s departure, Western Michigan’s defensive depth takes a significant hit by losing a two-time All-MAC honoree. But the Broncos still return veteran pieces in the linebacking corps. Corvin Moment (37 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1.5 sacks in 2020) remains the likely starter at MIKE linebacker for 2020, while Zaire Barnes will assume one of the starting outside linebacker roles after missing last season with a knee injury. The other outside linebacker could be converted safety A.J. Thomas (46 tackles, 9 TFLs, 2 sacks, 1 INT in 2020), who stepped into Barnes’ role after previously excelling in the secondary. Thomas is a senior granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA, but he has yet to announce whether he will return to Kalamazoo for 2021.

Western Michigan opens 2021 in college football’s largest venue, battling Michigan in the teams’ first crack at a non-conference game since 2019.