Toledo's no stranger to having a dominant run game in the MAC, but having only three returners isn't as common of a situation. The good news is that there's plenty of talent to be shown from Bryant Koback, Shakif Seymour and Ronnie Jones, but how much will Jason Candle lean on this position group anyway?
Out of nowhere, BGSU got exciting for the recruiting world and leads the MAC with 16 commits to its 2020 class. That's probably the biggest surprise. If not, then maybe Buffalo? The Bulls are following up a 10-win season with one of the conference's slower starts to the recruiting cycle. It's not a race, but it's noticeable.
Quwantrezz Knight transferred from Maryland (for obvious reasons) to Kent State, and requested to be able to play right away since the horrible events at Maryland caused him to become depressed — which is a serious thing. The NCAA disagreed, and now Knight & his team are trying to fight back.
There's, I believe, plenty of talent for the Cardinal receivers to make some noise in the MAC. Problem is they just haven't put it all together yet. But with more talented receivers coming in and playing right away out of HS, maybe this group could kick it up a notch in Mike Neu's fourth year as the head coach.
It's been a while, so here are five very-recent headlines to can be up-to-speed before the summer really heats up.
1. Ohio's AD Jim Schaus is on his way to be the Southern Conference commish.
2. The MAC will be a primary member of the Quick Lane Bowl from 2020-2025.
3. Brandon Peters visiting BGSU & Miami this weekend.
4. Grad transfers added to NIU's roster.
5. Uplifting: Jadon Rucker-Furlow & teammates help after tornadoes strike Dayton-area.
There are a lot of transfers out there, especially guys leaving as grad students. But if you leave as a graduate student and enrolled early out of high school but didn't get much playing time, chances are you'll still have two years left to play. Could we see more of these kinds of transfers if we see more early enrollees across the board? I'm just spit-balling here, but there's a way for this to make sense (at least I think so), especially in the MAC.
Exciting returning sophomores Jayden Reed and Chase Brown for Western Michigan won't actually be returning. Both of these guys who were expected to have important roles on the team's offense this year (and years to come) have entered the transfer portal, and the report is that they're looking to go Power 5. Obviously this is bad news for WMU, but things could be worse, right?
Well, the thing finally happened. Not that this was something anybody would really root to happen (unless you're a Toledo fan I suppose), but Jarret Doege has now put his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal. Doege earned the starting QB job his first year on campus as a true freshman who came in with only the one offer, and ended up having a short but promising career with the Falcons. In his 19 games: 362-for-577 (62.7%), 4,041 yards (7.0 Y/A), 39 TD, 19 INT. If the NCAA lets him, he can play right away with two years of eligibility.
A couple bits of news regarding the transfer portal. Keishawn Watson, former WMU receiver, found a new home in Appalachian State which is a really solid destination end up at. And at Bowling Green, running back Davon Jones is reunited with Scot Loeffler, his old offensive coordinator from Boston College, as a grad transfer.
Congrats to Sean Bunting, Max Scharping, Diontae Johnson, Maxx Crosby, Sutton Smith, Ka'Dar Hollman, Xavier Crawford, Ulysees Gilbert III, and Scott Miller for all being selected in the NFL Draft, and congrats to everybody else that received opportunities after the draft to get on a roster. But the big story that everybody is focusing on is the big quarterback out of Buffalo and why he didn't get picked after leaving school a year early.
Is Soand So a sleeper? Depends on who you ask. With a lot of MAC guys having gone to the Combine this year, on top of many other 3- and 4-year starters to also consider, there's a lot of talent that really hasn't been slept on in the MAC. But there certainly are a few out there. (They're probably the guys not talked about in this episode.)
The Athletic's Dan Brugler put out a full 7-round mock draft which features 10 MAC players. That's quite a bit! Who are they, what did he say about them, and how did Pro Football Focus' 250-player big board line up with the mock?
With the NFL Draft coming up, it's time to start focusing on the MAC prospects. To get things started with a Combine invitee and a non-invitee, let's begin the series with Sean Bunting (CB, CMU) and Scott Miller (WR slot, BGSU). Bunting's an obvious draft pick to-be, but can Scott Miller, a 3-time All-MAC receiver, be a late-round sleeper?
Two new guys will be joining NIU's offense after previously being on P5 rosters. Ross Bowers comes in as a grad transfer QB from Cal and Erin Collins joins the team as an NC State bounceback-JUCO transfer. NIU's offense was really bad last year, so maybe they can be of some help? Also, some chatter on the NFL Draft and Ball State's recruiting class.
Found an error with Episode 7 as soon as I published it, so I need to start with a correction on Ozziah Williams & Western Michigan's secondary. NIU's fourth commit for the 2020 cycle is another in-state defensive linemen, and that's exciting if you're into that sort of stuff! Lastly, John asked me a question about the MAC's place in the world. Specifically: what's the excuse for the Sun Belt being better than the MAC right now?
In breaking news: WMU's adding another transfer cornerback to its program, this time it's Kareem Ali Jr., by way of Temple. Ali was a 4- or 3-star prospect out of high school, but never received meaningful minutes as a corner with Temple because of injuries. Now he's got a shot at finally playing at WMU. Worked last year for Juwan Dowels (who may or may not play for WMU again this year), and there's JUCO transfer Ozziah Williams joining the program this year too. Behind them are a lot of inexperienced players that are still being broken into D1 football.
Spring is upon us all and there are a few teams that have an all-hands-on-deck approach to filling in the depth charts at wide receiver. Ohio graduated Papi White, who had 100 receiving targets last year, Toledo's lost its top three receivers from the last two seasons, and Akron's... well, Akron's Akron.
Our first look at the class of 2020 commits around the MAC. It's early, but there are a couple names that I want to take a look at. Namely, ATH (WR/QB) Freddy Edwards from south Illinois, and LB Camden Rogers from Fort Wayne, Ind. By my count, Miami has six commits, Northern Illinois has three, and Ball State, Buffalo, Kent State, Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan all have one commit each. Akron, Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan have all yet to receive a verbal commitment, but it's still really early in the cycle.
Today's the MAC Tournament Championship day for women's and men's hoops, so congrats to Buffalo in advance. (Please don't Old Takes Exposed me if I'm at all wrong.) Got me to thinking how the MAC could improve its championship scene. Having the football championship be a color rush should most-definitely be allowed, but what about the Friday night/Saturday morning dilemma? Is Ford Field actually a better place to have the games than having them on campus sites? (Probably, yeah. Maybe.)
It's REWATCH FOOTBALL GAMES SZN for the friendless, like myself. But this game works as a way-too-early preview for the 2019 season and helps open up more questions about the teams now that spring ball has begun for everybody.
FootballScoop has reported that Ball State's newly-hired defensive backs coach, Grady Brown, has left for Old Dominion to be the Monarchs' co-defensive coordinator. Brown was hired to be a proven coach to help boost the trending Cardinal secondary, but he was also hired to be another solid recruiter in the state of Georgia. Before that, it was Chevis Jackson as the Cardinals' DB coach. In his first full recruiting cycle for Ball State, he helped the team piece together the No. 4 signing class in the MAC and was named the MAC Recruiter of the Year by 247sports.com. Now, with Jackson gone to Kansas and Brown to ODU, head coach Mike Neu has to hire another DB coach with great ties to Georgia — a state that Neu wants get his athletes from.
This is the very first episode of MAC Prospectus Audio, which means you deserve an explanation of what's going on right now. This podcast will be a ~daily show, which means MAC football will be part of our everyday conversations more often than not. At the very least, most days of the year we'll be able to talk about MAC football.
To leave you with an actual MAC football discussion: TE Tyler Mabry leaves Buffalo and will join Maryland as a graduate transfer.