Western Michigan: Falcon heads group of 25 recruits

Marissa McNees
Special to The Detroit News

Kalamazoo – — Three years ago, if you would have told P.J. Fleck he’d have the number-one recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference the next three years, he might not have believed it.

Sure enough, after going 1-11 in his first year as Western Michigan’s head football coach, Fleck signed 25 recruits during Wednesday’s National Signing Day to maintain the top-ranked class in the conference since 2014 according to Rivals.com and 247sports.com.

“Three years ago, we talked about having No. 1 recruiting classes and it seemed like just a dream and a wish back then,” Fleck said. “The plan is actually happening and this is just the start.”

Among the newest batch of Broncos are 13 players from Michigan, including nine on the Detroit News Blue Chip List.

“When we took the job we said we were going to recruit within a six-hour radius, but not only that, we were going to hit Michigan hard,” Fleck said. “We’re never going to take a back seat to anybody no matter what conference they’re in. We may not win every battle, but we are going to compete. That time and effort is worth it to me.”

Complete list of WMU recruits

One name that draws a lot of attention is Matt Falcon, the four-star running back from Southfield. Falcon suffered a knee injury, sidelining him his senior season, and after previously committing to Michigan, Jim Harbaugh informed Falcon while he would honor his scholarship, he would not play football for Michigan.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” Fleck said of Falcon. “When you see what recruiting does to a lot of kids, sometimes it’s not what you think. When he left Michigan, we were there to catch him. We’re sticking by him. This kid’s hungry.”

Other notable recruits include Stefan Claiborne (Chippewa Valley) a three-star defensive back who had previously de-committed from WMU only to recommit later in the year, and Hunter Broesma (Mona Shores), a three-star wide receiver who Fleck calls “the best football player and overall athlete of the 2016 class.”

Overall, this recruiting season was about providing depth to an already deep roster.

“My job is to out-recruit every player [on the team],” Fleck said. “Their job is to keep their job, my job is to out-recruit them. That’s how a program continues to rise.

“In the last three years we’ve been able to identify exactly what our system is like — what fits in our system.

“The first few years of trial and error—seeing what works and doesn’t work — that’s what makes this class really special. We’re just going to be able to plug these guys in.”

Marissa McNees is a freelance writer