Western Michigan

Taking a Chance: three-star WMU QB signee heads to D-II

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In 2014, Chance Stewart was thought to be the next big thing at the quarterback position for Western Michigan.  In 2015, Stewart will ply his football wares a couple of rungs down the collegiate football ladder.

On its official Twitter page a few days ago, Hillsdale College in Michigan officially welcomed Stewart to its football program.  As the Chargers play at the Div. II level, Stewart can compete immediately in 2015.

He will also have four years of eligibility remaining beginning with this upcoming season.

Chance was a three-star member of WMU’s 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 21 pro-style quarterback in the country.  He was just the fourth quarterback rated more than a two-star prospect signed by the Broncos since Rivals.com began releasing rankings for the 2002 cycle, joining Anthony Maddie (2012), Mike Perish (2010) and Tim Hiller (2005), all of whom were three-star signees.

Only Hiller, the most prolific passer in Broncos history, ever started a game under center for the Broncos amongst that quartet.

For the 2016 class, P.J. Fleck has also landed a verbal commitment from another three-star quarterback prospect: Illinois prep star Matt Little.  That dual-threat signal-caller is part of a class that’s currently ranked 52nd in the country;  that’s the best current class in the MAC, easily ahead of No. 74 Toledo, No. 80 Miami of Ohio, No. 92 Central Michigan and on down that conference line.

(Photo credit: Western Michigan athletics)

Two glaring omissions headline Biletnikoff watch list

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It’s not often that who’s not on what’s essentially a meaningless preseason watch list is the main storyline, but that’s the case when it comes to the Biletnikoff Award this year.

First, who is on the watch list for the award handed out annually to the nation’s top wide receivers: a total of 48 players at the position, which is actually a rather subdued number compared to other watch lists that come out this time of the year.

Headlining the four dozen receivers actually listed is Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who was a finalist for last year’s award that went to Alabama’s Amari Cooper.  Joining Higgins are 2014 semifinalists Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma and Nelson Spruce of Colorado.

Now, the players who was inexplicably excluded from the initial watch list? Auburn’s D’haquille Williams, first and foremost. The senior wideout was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month. He’s considered by many to be the best receiver in the SEC — Mel Kiper has Williams as his No. 1 player at that position — yet four receivers from that conference are included.  The only receiver on the Biletnikoff watch list to also make Maxwell’s is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.

Williams missed three of the last four games last season because of an injury, yet still totaled 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Kiper may have him a bit overrated on his Big Board, but Williams certainly deserves one of the 48 spots allotted — or the award should at least make room for a 49th.  Or a 49th and 50th.

That said, Williams can, and probably will, be added to an in-season update from the folks at the Biletnikoff.  The same could be said for Player. No. 2: Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Despite missing the last four games of the year because of a gruesome leg injury, Williams still led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and was second in yardage with 632.  Like Williams, Treadwell made the cut for the Maxwell, which is awarded annually to the best player in college football regardless of position.

Anyway, below is the complete Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State
Devonte Boyd, UNLV
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Ryan Burbrink, Bowling Green
KD Cannon, Baylor
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Rashon Ceaser, ULM
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
River Cracraft, Washington State
Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Josh Doctson, TCU
Travin Dural, LSU
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin
William Fuller, Notre Dame
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Donovan Harden, Georgia State
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Ajalen Holley, ULM
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
Marcus Kemp, Hawaii
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Mitch Mathews, BYU
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Artavis Scott, Clemson
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Shaq Washington, Cincinnati
Mike Williams, Clemson
Ron Willoughby, Buffalo

2012 MAC Freshman of the Year transferring to Bethune-Cookman

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According to Bruce Feldman, Jaime Wilson — who announced he’d transfer from Western Michigan back in February — is heading to FCS-level Bethune-Cookman to be closer to his 5-year-old daughter.

Wilson earned MAC Freshman of the Year honors in 2012, reeling in 67 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns while also succeeding as a punt returner. But he broke his ankle and missed the entire 2013 season, though stuck around the program after deciding to transfer so he could finish out the semester and work as a student assistant with the team.

Bethune-Cookman, located in Daytona Beach, Fla., is about a three hour drive south from his hometown of Belle Glade, Fla., so he’ll be able to be around his daughter far more often than when he was over 1,000 miles away in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“It was a tough decision to leave, but really when it came down to it, I had to think about my daughter’s future and me being in her life,” Wilson told Feldman.

2012 MAC Frosh of the Year leaving WMU

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A broken ankle in mid-August cost Western Michigan its best wide receiver for the entire 2013 season.  Now, a transfer will cost the Broncos the same player for the remainder of his playing career.

WMU head coach P.J. Fleck confirmed to mlive.com Monday morning that Jaime Wilson has decided to transfer out of the football program.  The coach cited the Belle Glade, Fla., product’s desire to be closer to home as the impetus for the decision.

Specifically, Wilson wanted to be closer to his young daughter.

“He missed home, especially with being injured,” Fleck said. “He gave it a few more months after the year and he came to me with tears in his eyes and asked if I could help him become a better father.

“That’s the price of making Western Michigan not as good, but making his life better and that’s why I’m the head football coach here and that’s why we made the decision to help him in this situation to become a better father and be there in his daughter’s life.”

Programs such as FAU, FIU, UCF and USF could be very appealing destinations given their proximity to his hometown.

As a true freshman in 2012, Wilson led the team in receptions (67), receiving yards (792) and receiving touchdowns (six). He was the first true freshman in the program’s history to lead the team in those categories.

Following the season, he was named as the MAC’s Freshman of the Year.

Season for WMU’s best WR officially ends

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One of the best young wide receivers in the country, Jaime Wilson, suffered a broken ankle during summer camp and has yet to see the field this season.

Western Michigan’s hope was that Wilson would return at some point in 2013. Unfortunately, that hope has been officially dashed.

It was confirmed Tuesday that, because of the ankle break and a rehab that’s not gone as hoped, Wilson will be sidelined for the entirety of the 2013 season. The sophomore will take a medical redshirt for this season and retain three years of eligibility.

As to where Wilson is in the recovery process, mlive.com writes that “Wilson had been using a rolling knee walker until recently when he started making his way around practice in just a walking boot.”

As a true freshman in 2012, Wilson led the team in receptions (67), receiving yards (792) and receiving touchdowns (six). He was the first true freshman in the program’s history to lead the team in those categories.

Following the season, he was named as the MAC’s Freshman of the Year.