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Western recruits lock in, Lester lines up staff

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Western Michigan had many recruits jump ship when P.J. Fleck left to take the head coaching job at Minnesota earlier this month.

Tim Lester

However, Ann Arbor Skyline three-star linebacker Tre Hayward was all in and has already enrolled at Western to get a head start on his college career.

Hayward talked to new head coach Tim Lester Monday, along with the new co-defensive coordinator Tim Daoust.

"My first impression with Coach Lester is how he’s a great guy," Hayward said. "This weekend, I actually talked with him on the phone and he talked about how he was going to keep the culture growing. He talked about how he was going to better the players. I’m the only one I know who has enrolled early.

“I know he (Lester) kept David Duggan, the linebacker coach and they brought in the Ball State defensive coordinator Tim Daoust, just met with him. I think he’s bringing in a new OC, don’t know much about the offensive side though.

“I actually met Coach Daoust a year ago when I took a visit to Ball State. His defensive scheme is a fast one and disciplined one and that’s how I play the game. He was saying how I fit in well.”

Western athletic director Kathy Beauregard fired Bill Cubit following the 2012 season to bring in Fleck, who guided the Broncos to a 13-1 record and MAC championship this fall.

Little did Beauregard know when she hired Lester that she was also bringing back the Cubit Gang.

For Western’s Lester, the thrill is coming home

Daoust was Western’s defensive line coach under Cubit when the Broncos led the nation in interceptions (24) and sacks (46) while finishing 8-5 with a win at Virginia and an International Bowl appearance in 2006. He was secondary coach in ’07 when the Broncos defeated Iowa and again in ’08 when the Broncos defeated Illinois and finished with a then-school record nine wins and a Texas Bowl appearance.

Lester was on Cubit’s staff in 2005 and 2006. Lester has also brought in Davenport University head coach Lou Esposito, who was on Cubit’s staff from 2010-12, as co-defensive coordinator. The Broncos played in the Little Caesars Bowl in 2011.

According to, Lester is bringing in former Indiana offensive coordinator Kevin Johns as his offensive coordinator. It would be a great hire since the Hoosiers had one of the premier offenses in the country in 2015, averaging 36.5 points and 504 yards of total offense.

Hayward said there are a number of recruits still on board with him.

“I talked to a couple and I know (running back) Prince Walker is 100 percent committed and so is (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s linebacker) Dwayne Chapman and (Ann Arbor Pioneer linebacker) Derrick Hubbard,” Hayward said. “I know there are more guys who are committed still, too.”

The jury is still out on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s defensive tackle Ralph Holley and U-D Jesuit defensive back A.J. Thomas. Holley was disappointed Lester didn’t keep defensive line coach Jimmy Williams, who recruited him. Defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham was also let go.

Holley and Thomas were among a large group of recruits, who took official visits to Western last weekend.

“I had a great visit, had a lot of fun,” Holley said. “They introduced us to the new coach, Coach Lester, and he’s a real genuine guy who wants the program to continue to be great and he wants the players to enjoy his company as a coach and also as a friend and everything.

“Right now, I reopened my recruiting because he fired my defensive line coach Jimmy Williams. I’m still committed to Western, but also looking at my options. My family had a great connection with Coach Williams, who became a good family friend. That kind of shifted my opinion because they won a MAC championship and the defense was No. 1 in the MAC, but he (Lester) wants to change it.”

Holley plans to take a couple of visits and Thomas plans to take an official visit to Bowling Green this weekend.