By Alan Gerould, Senior Writer
If first impressions mean anything, I am certain that the 2017 Western Michigan football Broncos are in great shape with redshirt sophomore Jon Wassink calling the signals. I've never had children, but if I had a daughter, Wassink is the type of young man I would want her to bring home. Polite, humble, confident, articulate and deeply rooted in his Christian faith. Wassink will be a great face of the program in the absence of the departed Zach Terrell, who also shared those qualities.
Wassink, a 6-foot-2, 205 pound product of Grand Rapids South Christian, has yet to take a snap at center for the Broncos but does have a well established track record coming in to this season. Wassink spent the last two seasons watching and learning from Terrell, who broke most of the WMU passing records while leading the team to an undefeated regular season last year.
Before that, Wassink led his Sailors football team to back-to-back MHSAA Division Four State Championships in his junior and senior season. Wassink threw for 8,124 passing yards while in high school, which ranks third all time in the MHSAA record books. He also had over 900 rushing yards his senior season. Wassink also scored 23 points a game during his senior basketball season which just demonstrates his natural athleticism.
"We have 100 percent confidence in Jon as our quarterback. He is mobile, can make all the throws, is intelligent and a natural leader," Bronco junior center John Keenoy, also from Grand Rapids, said. "Jon leads by example, he is not a big rah rah guy, but I suspect that now that we know he is the man going forward, I expect that he will become more of a vocal leader."
Terrell also recently weighed in on the young man replacing him as the Bronco quarterback.
"I have no doubt that Jon will continue to make Bronco Nation proud in all facets that are expected of him as the new quarterback of WMU. Jon is a very talented athlete and passer that possesses a football IQ, that is off the charts. This will allow him to play with great poise and feel for the game despite limited experience," Terrell said. "What makes me most sure about Jon though, is his character. He is the true definition of a servant leader, who has an unwavering moral compass that will steer him and his teammates, in the right direction. I truly can’t say enough good things about Jon. I am excited to cheer him and the rest of the football team on this year."
Bronco head coach Tim Lester said much the same.
"This has been Zach's team the last several years, but now that Jon is in the drivers seat we expect to see him develop into a more vocal leader. Jon has a tremendous upside," Lester said.
Wassink is grateful to have a head coach who was also a highly successful Bronco quarterback to mentor him.
"I have a great relationship with Coach Lester and am excited to have him as our coach my next three years," Wassink said. "He works with us quarterbacks everyday on all of the little things that make the difference between being good and great. He has had tremendous success coaching quarterbacks in the past in addition to being a great one himself. I am just trying to soak it all up."
The notion of starting his first college game in the Los Angeles Coliseum against the USC Trojans has not yet sunk in with the man charged with leading the team to another Mid-American Conference Championship.
"Right now, I am just working with my teammates on getting better every day and continuing to grow," Wassink said. "I am sure it will probably hit me about the time we board the jet to head west."