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Top 70 MAC Football Players: #35 Blake Serpa (DE- Central Michigan Chippewas)

Leading one of the best defensive fronts in the MAC, Blake Serpa returns to Mt. Pleasant as one of Central Michigan's top defensive players.

Mike DiNovo (USA TODAY Sports)

Blake Serpa enters the 2015 season as one of the leaders of the Chippewa defense. On the opposite end of fellow Top 70 finalist Joe Ostman, Serpa led Central Michigan's second-ranked rushing defense in the MAC in tackles-for-loss, with 8.5. In totality, the Chippewa defense finished first in the MAC in total defense, and their strength will again be with the defensive line. With three returning starters on the defensive front, CMU's defensive front has a chance to be a top unit in the conference. Serpa will need to continue to wreak havoc in the trenches, as he did last season, where he tallied up four sacks and five QB hits.

This season's 35th ranked player in the MAC has been named to Phil Steele's preseason All-Mac first team. Blake Serpa will play an invaluable role in the Chippewas' defensive scheme, after managing 44 tackles in 2014. He possesses rare pass rushing skills, as he has shown ability to get to the quarterback. Also, he has the awareness and skill to get his hands up to swat passes down (J.J. Watt-like) at the line of scrimmage. His strong performance throughout last season has earned him a spot on the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, along with fellow Chippewa linemen, Joe Ostman and Ramadan Ahmeti. On a defense that will only be returning four starters (three of whom are on the defensive line), Serpa will have ample opportunity to stand out and shine against top-tier opponents early in the season, such as Oklahoma State, Syracuse, and Michigan State.

His presence will certainly be felt once the conference schedule comes around for Central Michigan. He thrived in conference games last year, such as the week 8 match-up against Ball State, where he recorded a season-high six tackles for the Chippewas. Also, in week 6 against Ohio, Serpa brought down the quarterback twice, his highest single-game sack total of his career.

Serpa's senior season will have a lot to do with how Central Michigan's defense will wind up. Amidst major inexperience, the veteran mindset that he can provide will affect the success of the team. With a good defensive end opposite him, Serpa will be hard to game-plan against, as Ostman can cause trouble as well. Look for Blake Serpa to have himself a first team All-Mac-caliber senior season, as he looks to become the first Chippewa defensive end to get drafted since 2007.

I believe Serpa will get at least seven sacks, as well as ten tackles-for-loss this season, giving him a considerable amount of hype as a late-round draft selection. In 2015, look for Blake Serpa to be a strength in what is thought to be a questionable CMU defense.