It’s John Bonamego’s second full season as the head coach of the Central Michigan Chippewas and his first class was littered with players that contributed in many ways last season.
For example, Kaden Keon was given kickoff duties halfway through the season and Cooper Mojsiejenko, a holdover from the short class, split punting duties with Jack Sheldon. Jonathan Ward was also a revelation in limited spurts as CMU experienced depth issues at running back. Brandon Childress, a redshirt from the short class in 2015, also contributed for the Chippewas this season.
Tony Poljan was redshirted last season and is expected to compete with fellow signees Austin Hergott and Tommy Lazzarro, as well as grad transfer Shane Morris, for the starting quarterback and backup quarterback jobs.
Needless to say, the coaching staff has done an excellent job at finding contributors to play in a variety of situations. There’s a lot of promise our of last year’s class, but this class could prove to be even better.
Here’s the signing day class of 2017 in alphabetical order (# denotes an early enrollee):
- Norman “Bubba” Anderson, two-star CB, 6’0”, 175 lbs., Duncan U. Fletcher HS (Neptune, FL)
- Johnathan Berghorst, three-star WR, 6’5”, Zeeland East HS (Zeeland, MI)
- Darius Bracy, CB, 5’10”, 177 lbs., Baker HS (Mobile, AL)
- Brandon Brown, three-star ATH, 5’10”, 175 lbs., Canada Prep Football Academy (St. Catharaines, Ontario, CN)
- Troy Brown, two-star ATH, 6’1”, 200 lbs., Carman-Ainsworth HS (Flint, MI)
- Brady Buell, K, 6’0”, 185 lbs., Saint Francis HS (Traverse City, MI)
- Jack Combs, WR, 6’2”, 180 lbs., East Grand Rapids HS (Grand Rapids, MI)
- Keegan Cossou, three-star TE, 6’5”, 225 lbs, Greenville Sr. High School (Greenville, MI)
- Erik Ditzhazy, three-star OT, 6’5”, 260 lbs., Forest Hills Northern HS (Grand Rapids, MI)
- George Douglas, two-star LB, 6’0”, 205 lbs., Belleville HS (Belleville, MI)
- Nick Follmer, two-star OT, 6’5”, 280 lbs., Wentzville Liberty HS (Wentzville, MO)
- Ty Henderson, WR, 6’0”, 170 lbs., Dublin Jerome HS (Dublin, OH)
- Julian Hicks, two-star WR, 6’2”, 175 lbs., Mayfield HS (Cleveland, OH)
- Elijah James, two-star DE, 6’4”, 263 lbs., Oswego West HS (Oswego, IL)
- Charles “Chuck” Jones, two-star RB, 5’11, 208 lbs., Skyline HS (Ann Arbor, MI)#
- Jamezz Kimbrough, two-star OG, 6’1 1/2”, 254 lbs., Homewood-Flossmoor HS (Flossmoor, IL)
- Drayton Law, three-star WR, 6’3”, 195 lbs., Baker HS (Mobile, AL)
- Evan Plate, two-star LB, 6’3”, 220 lbs., Greenville Sr. HS (Greenville, MI)
- Bernhard Raimann, two-star TE, 6’7”, 230 lbs., Delton-Kellogg HS (Delton, MI/originally of Steinbrunn, Austria)
- Devonni Reed, three-star S, 6’0”, 180 lbs., Belleville HS (Belleville, MI)
- Willie Reid, two-star S, 6’1”, 177 lbs., Cass Technical HS (Detroit, MI)
- Amir Siddiq, LB, 6’0”, 219 lbs., Fordson HS (Dearborn, MI)
- Steven Spenner, three-star LB, 6’3”, 217 lbs., Berrlen Springs HS (Berrlen Springs, MI)
- Robi Stuart, two-star OG, 6’2”, 287 lbs., Nouvel Catholic Central (Saginaw, MI)
- JaCorey Sullivan, three-star WR, 6’1 1/2”, 204 lbs. Muskegon HS (Muskegon, MI)
- Shawn Wiley, two-star DT, 6’4”, 275 lbs., First Coast HS (Jacksonville, FL)
There’s a lot of Michigan natives.
Being located in Mt. Pleasant, the roster is bound to have a Michigan flavor and Coach Bono does not disappoint with this class, which has 16 commits from the Mitten State.
Keegan Cossou, a top 1000 player in the 247Sports rankings nationally and one of the best players in the state of Michigan, formally committed to the squad, over offers from Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska. Cossou is largely seen as the best player in the class but there are other solid contributors from the state to choose from including JaCorey Sullivan and Johnathan Berghorst.
The line gets depth and tight ends play a prominent role.
The aforementioned Cossou and Bernhard Reimann (standing at an impressive 6’7”, 230 lbs.) provide size, depth and playmaking ability at the tight end position for the Chippewas moving forward. The Chips use tight ends a lot in their formations as pass-catchers and blockers; Coach Bono likes his TE’s to be balanced playmakers, so it will be fun to see how these two are utilized.
The offensive line was especially a problem for Central Michigan this season, so the four commits looks to be a move to rectify that.
This class is very defensive.
Almost half the class is dedicated to defensive positions, with nine players signed as primary defensive players. There are two athletes that could also be switched over to the defensive side, which is currently young and talented but needing to develop depth after the loss of key defensive leaders such as Tony Annesse.
Keep an eye on pipelines.
Coach Bono managed to get some late commits from the state of Florida, where he used to coach at the professional level. Some of CMU’s best players — Antonio Brown and Jahleel Addae amongst them— have come from the Sunshine State, so it doesn’t hurt to reopen that pipeline after the Enos tenure saw a Midwest-centric recruiting pan. The next two classes are also littered with Florida products, so that will be a development to follow as well.
Coach Bono and his staff has also worked the trails in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and even Canada during the recruiting period, so they’re definitely casting a wide net.
One name to watch from this group: Drayton Law, a receiver from Mobile, AL. He was a surprise signee with offers from Southern Miss, Grambling State and Troy and interest from UMass. The three-star product is 6’3”, 194 lbs. and competed in Mobile’s HS level, which is about as tough as it gets in Alabama. Law is known as a speedster, which should be a great fit for CMU’s offense.
Law’s former HS quarterback Darius Bracy also signed with CMU as a cornerback.
CMU is punching at and above its weight.
CMU’s class ranking will be somewhat impacted on recruiting boards by the losses of four-star WR Nick Robinson to Memphis and under-recruited DE Kennan Solomon to East Carolina, but that does not take away from the fact that Coach Bono’s second full recruiting class is full of promising prospects.
Most of the class held two-or-three star ratings from 247Sports, a marked improvement over previous recruiting classes. Coach Bono and staff saw what WMU was doing in terms of building depth with that type of talent and went after it in full.
Just the fact that CMU ended up in the top five or top three of some four-star prospects with multiple Power Five offers shows that clearly, CMU is sending the right message on the recruiting trails. Eventually, they’ll hit on at least one if they keep it up.
You can learn more about the signees and see what Coach Bono has to say about them at this link.