Third ACL tear shelves WMU linebacker Justin Tranquill

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Despite relatively respectable showings against Southern Cal and Michigan State, Western Michigan is 0-2 after its daunting early schedule.

And, now, the news gets even worse.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Justin Tranquill, one of the stars of a defense that’s expected to be a strength for the defending Mid-American Conference champions, is lost for the season with an ACL tear. Tranquill suffered the injury early in Saturday afternoon’s loss to Michigan State.

It’s the third ACL tear he’s suffered, on both legs. He was lost for the season early his freshman year, in 2015, and also suffered a tear when he was in high school in Indiana.

Tranquill started every game last season and finished third in tackles on a team that made the Cotton Bowl. He forced a fumble in the victory over Eastern Michigan.

The defense still has plenty of high-end talent, with the likes of cornerback Darius Phillips and linebacker Robert Spillane, but its depth now will be tested.

Western’s rushing game also is expected to be huge this season, especially since the team is breaking in a new quarterback, but first-year coach Tim Lester acknowledged Monday that star back Jarvion Franklin is dealing with some nagging, albeit undisclosed, injuries, as well. Franklin had 12 rushing attempts against USC and just six against Michigan State.

The Broncos play Saturday against Idaho in their first home game of the season, then host Wagner the following week before starting conference play.