Western Michigan fans, players, and recruits all received some disappointing news on Friday morning. After rumblings hit Twitter on Thursday evening, it became official this morning the P.J. Fleck has accepted the job at the University of Minnesota.
With the recent news comes a major fallout on the recruiting trail. Hustle Belt reached out to a handful of commits to get their reactions, and see what the next step for them is in their recruitment:
(each player’s name links to our article from when they originally committed)
DL Chris Elmore
“I will be reopening my recruitment.”
I've decided to reopen my recruitment! Thank you. pic.twitter.com/jpbAjrUizt— Chris Elmore (@ChrisElmore36) January 6, 2017
Elmore said in his tweet that he will still consider Western Michigan, but is reopening his recruitment at this time.
It didn’t take long for a school to swoop in and offer Elmore after he reopened his commitment. It looks like former Bowling Green coach, and current Syracuse head coach Dino Babers has offered Elmore:
Blessed to have received my 8th offer from Syracuse! pic.twitter.com/quAum6EzdW— Chris Elmore (@ChrisElmore36) January 6, 2017
OL Kyle Sassack
“I was informed of Coach flecks leaving this morning. Coach Fleck and I had a phone conversation and he told me personally. As far as recruiting goes, I have not had time to talk to my family and coach about the situation. I am still a WMU commit.”
100% with Western Michigan University— Prince Walker (@PrinceTheWalker) January 6, 2017
Walker has been committed to WMU since March and was one of the first players to join this 2017 recruiting class. We are very high on Walker and have thought all along he could be a sleeper in this class who turns out to be a successful college player. The fact that he is staying committed to Western Michigan is a major plus for whoever eventually takes over the program.
“I was informed last night that he was leaving through multiple sources and my future teammates and honestly I am very disappointed and I really wanted him to be my coach...For recruiting, I committed to the beautiful school of Western Michigan, I did not commit to a coach, I am blessed with the opportunity that is in front of me and I am going to make the best out of my team, myself and whoever is next in line. I am very excited to be a bronco, RTB.”
“I actually learned through the news on twitter and for my recruitment right now I don't know yet because everything is happening so fast.”
As of 11 AM this morning, Hayward said he had not heard from anyone from the WMU coaching staff. When asked if other schools had been in contact, he said: “yea, a few.”
As of right now, it sounds like Hayward is still trying to process all of what has happened over the last 24-48 hours. HIs original plan was to enroll early at WMU so it will be interesting to see if that plan is altered over the coming days.
“At first I found out by twitter in the morning and then by the other recruits and then the coaches Right now I am still thinking of what I am going to do but we will see what happens.”
Pride above all your accomplishments is what your Raider Family feels. Congrats on your WMU signing !! pic.twitter.com/XgJpdmBrkw— Ryle Raider Football (@ryleraiderfball) December 19, 2016
It looks like Tanner Morgan planned to enroll early at Western Michigan. It is unclear if that plan is subject to change now that coach Fleck is off to Minnesota. Seeming as the star quarterback in last year’s class, Matt Little, never made it to campus. It is critical that Western Michigan retains Morgan as he will have a legitimate opportunity to start within the next two years.
UPDATE: Tanner Morgan has announced his intent to enroll early at Minnesota
Chambers was a guy who likely wasn’t going to stick around even if Fleck ultimately stayed in Kalamazoo. Chambers received an offer from Ole Miss this week, which could be a game changer in his recruitment. Chambers could be a prime candidate to follow coach Fleck to Minnesota.
Chambers has said he has re-opened his recruitment but says he has not de-committed from Western Michigan at this time. Chambers is a Power 5 talent without a doubt and it seems like P5 programs are finally starting to take notice of that. Nonetheless I would not expect Chambers to be suiting up for WMU next season.
Despite prior reports, @Tyskiii2 has not decommitted from WMU but has reopened his recruitment.— Jarritt Orlando (@jarritt_orlando) January 6, 2017
Here’s what Chapman had to say when asked how he found out about Fleck’s departure and what this means for his recruitment:
“Through ESPN, but I am happy for him and his family, this is a big opportunity for him. Haven't had time to process it, I was really looking forward to playing for Coach Fleck.”
“Well I always expected it to happen it was no surprise to me he is a successful coach. But as far as my recruiting I am opening my recruitment again, the coaches were a big part of my recruiting and I grew close to them and I'm open to going to Minnesota with Fleck and other options after dead period is over.”
Bell and Elmore sent out a nearly identical message on Twitter this morning. Bell has also reopened his recruitment.
blessed with any opportunity...letting god lead my way. pic.twitter.com/0AnOxhnmbF— Chris J.Autman-Bell (@ChrisJAutmanB) January 6, 2017
Hayes has not publicly announced any sort of de-commitment or anything along those lines. What we do know is that Hayes was planning on enrolling early at Western Michigan. Hayes, Morgan, and Hayward will be interesting to monitor over the next week or so as they were all planning on enrolling early.
Marcus Hayes graduating early to go to Western Michigan https://t.co/x3n4OMKJy8 - WREX -13 Sports— Rockford Sports News (@RockfordSports) December 17, 2016
UPDATE: Hayes has announced that he will no longer be enrolling early, and once again reiterated that he re-opened his recruitment.
This will be an extremely interesting situation to monitor over the next few weeks. For Western Michigan, it is critical they do their due diligence to find a capable replacement in a timely manner to attempt to salvage this recruiting class. It is fair to expect that WMU will lose at least half of their current commits to other schools. With that said, I honestly believe it would have been extremely difficult for coach Fleck to keep a handful of these players committed even if he had stayed in Kalamazoo another year. These players are just that talented.
It will be interesting to see which schools benefit the most from this situation as some extremely talented players are now back on the market. One analyst seems to think NIU could benefit, which makes sense considering six of WMU’s 24 commits (pre-Fleck’s departure) hail from the state of Illinois.
Look for NIU, Illinois, Syracuse,Iowa to Benefit HUGE— Deep Dish Football (@DeepDishFB) January 6, 2017
Stay tuned to @MAC_Crootin for more information on these recruits as their individual recruitments develop. We will continue to update this article as more information about these players becomes available.