The top 10 Western Michigan football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. WR Corey Davis, Sr.
One of the nation’s most productive wide receivers over the last three seasons, the 6-3, 205-pound Davis caught 145 passes for 2,349 yards and 21 scores in his first two seasons before blowing up last year. Very big and very productive on his deep plays, he came up with 90 grabs for 1,436 yards and 12 scores in 2015 with seven straight 100-yard seasons to close out the season topping out with a 183-yard, one score finish in the bowl win over Middle Tennessee.
Hardly a top recruit, he blossomed from the word go earning Freshman All-America honors. The First Team All-MAC star should be in the hunt for national all-star honors this season, even with his running mate, Daniel Braverman, gone on the other side after taking away some of the attention.
2. QB Zach Terrell, Sr.
While the 6-1, 204-pound veteran isn’t all that huge, and he doesn’t have a monster arm, he has a great command of the offense with the ability to get the ball deep. Just mobile enough to get by, he knows what he’s doing and is great at making things happen to get the passing game going. Very smart – he’s an all-star in the classroom as well as on the field – he saw time as a freshman and blossomed as a sophomore, throwing for 3,443 yards and 26 touchdowns with ten picks to go along with three rushing scores.
Last year he ran for three touchdowns, too, while hitting 67% of his throws for 3,526 yards and 29 scores with nine interceptions last season. Five of those picks game in the first two games, coming up with just four in the last 11 games coming up with 220 yards or more in 11 games. He might not hit the 4,000-yard mark considering the running game will take up its share of yards, but Terrell is good enough to bomb away if he has to.
3. CB/KR Darius Phillips, Jr.
The very quick, very active Phillips started out his career as a receiver and a devastating kick returner – averaging 26.4 yards per return with 32 catches for 479 yards and two scores. Last year he moved over to the other side of the ball, but he stayed on special teams averaging 23.25 yards per kickoff return with a score, while picking off five passes with a touchdown. He’s only 5-10 and 184 pounds, and he’s built like a receiver, but he can tackle in the open field with 36 of his 48 tackles solo. The best part is that he’s still just getting started – now he knows what he’s doing as a defensive back.
4. RB Jamauri Bogan, Soph.
Small and quick, Bogan got a little bit of work early on before cranking things up over the second half of the season. Tremendous around the goal line, he ran for 16 scores with all of them coming in the final eight games. Averaging 6.49 yards per carry, he ran for over 100 yards just four times, but he destroyed Middle Tennessee in the bowl win with 215 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries. Just 5-7 and 174 pounds, he’s not huge, and he hasn’t been used much as a receiver, but he was a great recruit out of New Jersey with great speed and the upside to do even more, even if he has to share the workload.
5. S Asantay Brown, Jr.
The 6-0, 198-pound junior didn’t do too much early on in his career, but the former wide receiver turned into one of the MAC’s best defensive backs making a team-high 103 tackles with 14 against Bowling Green and 13 against Central Michigan, serving as a great last line of defense. With blazing speed to make up for his lack of bulk, he always gets around the ball. Dangerous when he makes plays, he’ll be deadly again if he picks off more than two passes.
6. RB Jarvion Franklin, Jr.
After a special freshman season – earning MAC Offensive Player of the Year after running for 1,551 yards and 24 scores – he combined forces with the speedy Jamauri Brown running for 735 yards and five scores. A bit more of a receiver than Brown – catching 17 passes for 184 yards – he was fine running the ball, but he saw his workload decrease as the season went on with just 27 carries over the final five games. Smart, tough, and quick, the 6-0, 220-pounder can do a little of everything. Now he has to get his workload back.
7. OG Taylor Moton, Sr.
The best run blocker on a veteran line, the big 6-5, 316-pound versatile blocker has the size of a guard but has worked mostly at right tackle. While he’s just okay in pass protection, he can blast away when he gets up a head of steam. An all-star in the classroom and with surprising speed for his bulk, he’s a good leader with the talent to play either tackle spot.
8. LB Caleb Bailey, Jr.
The 6-0, 236-pounder sent from being a nice special teamer to one of the team’s best all-around defenders. The team’s second-leading tackler, the weakside defender came up with 80 stops and was a demon in the backfield with 12 tackles for loss. Even though he missed the opener against Michigan State, he still turned into a steady producer making run stop after run stop coming up with six tackles or more in eight of the final 12 games. With his talent and speed, he should become even more of a pass rusher and start generating a few sacks.
9. DE Keion Adams, Sr.
The team’s best pass rusher, the North Carolina native went from being a decent spot starter into a regular at one defensive end spot with a team-high 5.5 sacks with ten tackles for loss along with 41 tackles. At 6-2 and 261 pounds, he’s a short, compact end with a quick burst off the ball, taking over after the first quarter of the season to grow into a dangerous factor in the backfield. He should be even deadlier this year.
10. LB Robert Spillane, Jr.
As long as he’s back and healthy after missing the back half of the season hurt, he’s going to be a statistical machine after starting six times last season and making 46 tackles with 1.5 sacks. He’s undersized and just 6-2 and 218 pounds, but he’s active, tough, and experienced making 67 stops as a freshman and growing into the role last year before the injury.