The future is looking very bright for the Western Michigan football program. How has P.J. Fleck, and the Bronco coaching staff turned things around in Kalamazoo so quickly over the last couple of years? Two words. Relentless recruiting. (Or as Fleck himself might call it, "elite recruiting.")
After signing a more than solid class during the 2014 cycle, the Broncos once again hit the trail hard in 2015 in search of standouts, and under-the-radar gems to add to the roster. Signing 31 (including prefered walkons, early enrollees and grayshirts) recruits Wednesday, the WMU staff have put together not just the top class in the Mid-American Conference, but also a group of players that compare to many Power Five conference schools across the country.
14 3-star players and 1 4-star players. 80% of the class from the 6 hour radius! 12 players from Michigan!— WMU Football (@WMU_Football) February 4, 2015
With so much excitement surrounding this class, let's take a look at the future of the Western Michigan program.
The Class (sortable table/includes walk ons and gray shirts)
|Parker Underwood||East Lansing, Michigan (East Lansing)||TE||6'4/235||2-Star||Yes|
|Conner Guzy||Newton, Pennsylvania (Council Rock North)||DE||6'4/235||2-Star||Yes|
|John Keenoy||Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Kentwood)||OG/C||6'4/280||3-Star||Yes|
|Jon Wassink||Grand Rapids, Michigan (South Christian)||QB||6'2/190||3-Star||Yes|
|Paul Engram||Detroit, Michigan (Loyola)||LB||6'0/205||2-Star||Yes|
|DeShawn Foster||Detroit, Michigan (Mumford)||WR||6'0/205||NR||Yes|
|Donte Horton||West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West)||DE||6'4/205||3-Star||Yes|
|Stephen Dennis||Lombard, Illinois (Montini Catholic)||WR/P||6'2/195||NR||Yes|
|Giovanni Ricci||Loveland, Ohio (Loveland)||WR||6'4/195||2-Star||Yes|
|Blaze Watson||Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater)||K||6'2/185||NR||Yes|
|Darion King||Racine, Wisconsin (Case)||TE||6'6/215||2-Star||Yes|
|Daniel Jackson||Plainfield, Illinois (Plainfield East)||DT||6'3/250||2-Star||Yes|
|Anton Curtis||Detroit, Michigan (East English Village Prep)||ATH||6'3/170||3-Star||Yes|
|Tony Ballabani||Macomb, Michigan (Dakota)||DE||6'3/230||2-Star||Yes|
|Alex Grace||Saginaw, Michigan (Swan Valley)||ATH||6'1/180||3-Star||Yes|
|Davon Tucker||Somerdale, New Jersey||RB||5'10/205||3-Star||Yes|
|Davontae Ginwright||Southfield, Michigan (Southfield)||CB||6'3/185||3-Star||Yes|
|Samuel Beal||Grand Rapids, Michigan (Ottawa Hills)||ATH||6'2/180||2-Star||Yes|
|Keishawn Watson||Wheaton, Illinois (Warrenville South)||WR||5'11/165||2-Star||Yes|
|Justin Spencer||Oviedo, Florida (Oviedo)||CB||5'10/180||3-Star||Yes|
|DeLano Madison||Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Brother Rice)||ATH||5'8/165||2-Star||Yes|
|Kadeem Goulbourne||Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Cypress Bay)||WR||6'4/200||3-Star||Yes|
|Justin Tranquill||Fort Wayne, Indiana (Carroll)||S||5'11/195||3-Star||Yes|
|Luke Juriga||Aurora, Illinois (Marmion Academy)||OG||6'4/270||2-Star||Yes|
|LeVante Bellamy||Indianapolis, Indiana (Brebeuf Jesuit Prep)||WR||5'9/165||3-Star||Yes|
|Wesley French||Saint Joseph, Michigan (Saint Joseph)||OT||6'5/300||3-Star||Yes|
|Eric Assoua||Washington, DC (St. John's College)||DE||6'1/215||3-Star||Yes|
|Obbie Jackson||West Bloomfield, Michigan (West Bloomfield)||CB||5'10/165||2-Star||Yes|
|Tom Flacco||Voorhees, New Jersey (Eastern)||QB||6'1/185||NR||Yes|
|Taylor Reaume||Saginaw, Michigan (Swan Valley)||MLB||6'1/220||NR||Yes|
|Kenny Finley||Muskegon, Michigan (Muskegon)||DT||6'4''/255||3-star||Yes|
When you took a look at the list of players the WMU staff signed the first thing that is going to jump out is the large amount of 3-star prospects. Signing numerous recruits with either scholarship offers or interest from major programs, Fleck, and crew definitely hit it out the park with this class as a whole.
Offensive linemen John Keenoy, and Wesley French, receivers Kadeem Goulbourne, and LeVante Bellamy, defensive back Justin Tranquill, and defensive end Eric Assoua are just a few of the leaders of the class, who could cause coordinators around the Mid-American Conference havoc very early during their college careers.
Immediate Impact Guys
Littered from top to bottom with talent, the Western Michigan staff signed a few prospects who should get their fair share of playing time this upcoming season. Early enrollee offensive lineman John Keenoy, and wide out Kadeem Goulbourne will get a shot to snatch up a spot in the depth chart during spring ball in the coming weeks before the rest of the class joins them on campus over the summer.
With the center spot wide open after the graduation of Jon Hoffing, Keenoy could find himself in the mix with returning linemen Curtis Doyle for a starting role. If Doyle can lock up job over Keenoy, look for the freshman to still get some reps in a backup role at center, and possibly even guard.
The Broncos are returning quite a few wide outs, but don't have many over 6'1. Goulbourne, a former SMU signee, and solid route runner, who stands 6'4, could add a red zone jump ball threat to the stout WMU offense.
Holding early offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, and Illinois before his pledge to WMU, Justin Tranquill could very well be the steal of the class when it is all said, and done. Needing depth in the secondary, if Tranquill can shake off his torn ACL, and stay healthy, the younger brother of Notre Dame linebacker Drue Tranquill should have every opportunity to crack the two deep, and see plenty of burn as bully on special teams, despite any setbacks this fall.
Everything went as planned for the Western Michigan staff. Setting out to add depth, size, and speed to the roster, Fleck, and his group of assistants did just that.
While it is hard to judge how much of an impact the 2015 class will have on field, on paper this is potentially one of the top classes to ever sign with a Mid-American Conference program. Not only recruiting the Midwest, but pretty much the whole United States, the Broncos have set themselves up as program on the rise in college football for years to come.