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July 26, 2013

WMU class of 2014 cracks top 25 nationally

Western Michigan continues to hit new heights on the 2014 recruiting trail, garnering seven new commitments on Thursday alone and vaulting into 25th in the current Rivals.com national recruiting rankings, the highest ranking yet for the Broncos' class.

WMU also boasts the most commitments of any program in the nation with 27, which is especially surprising considering schools in the Mid-American Conference tend to gain verbals later in the process.

By way of comparison, Bowling Green, who ranks second in total commits in the conference, currently sits at 16. Just four schools in the MAC (WMU, BGSU, Central Michigan and Ball State) have reached double digits.

While this does indicate that the Broncos' ranking may fall as other teams catch up in sheer numbers, that hardly makes the accomplishments of this staff any less impressive, particularly in the context of a MAC program.

First-year WMU head coach P.J. Fleck addressed the subject of his early recruiting success at Tuesday's MAC Media Day.

"I really don't know if the stars project, it's recruiting, you're guessing. But I'm really happy with the progress we're making," he said. "The number one job of our program is to recruit. I don't know where we'll end up. We're going to fall some spots, I know that's probably going to happen just because of the high numbers we have, but I think this class is going to be really special."

Fleck isn't the only one who believes that. Of the Broncos' 27 commitments, eight are ranked at three stars and one (quarterback Chance Stewart) is a four-star prospect.

In the Rivals.com era, only one MAC class (Toledo in 2010) compiled an average star rating higher than WMU's current 2.45-- and that's with five of the Broncos' current commits still yet to be ranked.

Perhaps even more impressive are the schools that WMU has beaten out for their talent. According to the Rivals.com database, WMU commits have held offers from Indiana, South Florida, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, N.C. State, Kansas, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Wisconsin and Illinois along with a host of MAC and BCS non-automatic qualifying schools.

Just as importantly, the Broncos have found great success against conference rivals like Central Michigan and Toledo, who all too often in recent years have beaten WMU out for local MAC-level talent.

The success locally is in part a result of a renewed focus on the Midwest, something that Fleck emphasized from the beginning. The very first time he addressed the media as WMU's head coach, Fleck stated that he would focus mainly on a six hour radius around Kalamazoo for his new talent.

So even if WMU falls in the rankings in the coming months (the 1,110 points they currently have amassed would have placed them 65th last season), their current ranking is a well-deserved testament to the work the new coaching staff has put into upgrading the talent level of this team.

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