PJ Fleck knew his defensive line would be a weakness this coming season, with a lot of underclassmen either starting or in the rotation. On Tuesday, he got some much needed help as University of Michigan graduate transfer Richard Ash was formally announced as a member of Western Michigan football team for the upcoming season.
Following in the footsteps of Mike Jones last season, and "Little Brother" John Deyo the year before, Ash joins the Broncos as a 5th year transfer from an in-state Big Ten school. Ash, the 25th rated defensive tackle coming out of high school and a 4-star recruit according to Rivals, will add immediate depth to a relatively young defensive line. He will hope live up to the high standards set by Jones and Deyo, who both were strong contributors on poor Bronco teams at middle-linebacker and offensive guard respectively.
While Ash does bring experience and size having played in Michigan's system for the past few years, his stats don't pop out at you. In 14 career games at defensive tackle and on special teams, the senior recorded just recorded his first career tackle in Michigan's loss to Ohio State last year. However, he did play in a trio of games during the Sugar Bowl season in 2011, so that should help with a "winning mentality".
But again, Ash is the lone senior on the defensive line, and only one of two upperclassmen (joining junior Cleveland Smith). He's also the biggest man on the line, coming in at a whopping 314 lbs with a 6'3" frame. That should help stop the solid run games of opponents like Eastern Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois, who have all torn up the Broncos on the ground the past few seasons.