Top Broncos LB Robert Spillane granted transfer

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Robert Spillane

One of the reasons Western Michigan figured to be a significant threat in 2017 was its defense.

That defense suffered a huge loss Monday when linebacker Robert Spillane asked for his transfer, and was granted his transfer.

It's unclear where Spillane will transfer or whether there will be restrictions on where he can transfer, a Western Michigan spokesman said.

Spillane, 21, hasn't yet graduated, so wherever he transfers, he will have to sit out a season, per NCAA regulations.

Spillane, an Oak Park, Ill., native who committed to then-coach P.J. Fleck on the spot despite objections from his mother and father – who wanted him to let the recruiting process play out – could make the jump to the Big Ten, at a place such as Northwestern, if he wants to move closer to home.

It's possible he could join Fleck at Minnesota.

Spillane had a big season for Western Michigan, which was 13-0 before losing to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. He stripped a ball as Northwestern was in the red zone and about to score during the season opener, and had an interception late in the Mid-American Conference championship game against Ohio.

Spillane had three interceptions this past season, and finished his Western Michigan career with three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 7.5 sacks.

Outside of recruiting defections, this is the first major player-personnel loss since Tim Lester took over as Western Michigan coach. Lester inherited an experienced defense that still includes all-league candidate corner Darius Philips, as well as a good running game on offense.