WMU signs highest-rated recruiting class in MAC

WMU football head coach Tim Lester speaks to the media in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Aug. 30, 2017.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — In January, head coach Tim Lester had just over two weeks to put together a recruiting class to shape the future of Western Michigan’s football program.

What a difference a year can make.

The Broncos had most of 2017 to recruit its next wave of talent and were able to accumulate the best class in the Mid-American Conference, according to college athletics recruiting site 247Sports.com.

“Last season, it was the craziest 17 days of my life,” Lester said in a release. “Now, we’ve put together the best class ever in our league, ratings-wise.”

The recent success of the Broncos’ program and amount of players making it to the NFL has given coaches the ability to highly-rated players who typically avoid commitments to MAC schools.

Muskegon offensive lineman Antwan Reed is a prime example, as the 6-foot-7, 320 pound lineman was a four-star recruit previously committed to Penn State before signing with WMU Wednesday.

Reed is the highest rated player to sign with a MAC school in eight years and best in program history.

Reed enjoyed the story of WMU offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor, who is projected to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft next year, and wanted to go to a school where he felt comfortable, Lester said in the release.

WMU is also recruiting players at positions all over the field, including a defensive lineman, wide receivers and linebackers.

Lester and his staff also face the challenge of replacing senior tight end Donnie Ernsberger and defensive back/return specialist Darius Phillips, both of which were a point of emphasis in recruiting, Lester said in the release.

This is the first year the early signing period has been approved by the NCAA for football, which continues through Friday. The next signing period will begin on Feb. 14.