The 2017 football season is now "in the books" for the Leathernecks. We have a lot of promising young talent coming back next year, but it's also time to say goodbye to many of the players who made this year's Leatherneck football team so exciting to watch. So, without further ado, here is this year's class of seniors (in order by number):
#1 Jarid Brown, WR
Jarid is a WR from Huntington, Maryland who came to us as a senior grad transfer after four years as a member of the Ohio Bobcats program. He finished the season having played in 11 games and with 5 receptions for 67 yards including a 35-yard catch against Indiana State. Jarid is a Sport Management major.
#1 Brandon Mayes, DB
Brandon is a DB from Aurora, IL. Like Brown, he was a senior grad transfer from a MAC school...in this case, Northern Illinois. He played in 10 games for the Leathernecks this season, picking up 3 solo tackles (1 against TTU and 2 against CCU).
#5 Aaron Diggs, DB
Diggs is a DB from Goodyear, AZ (the last of our "wave" of AZ talent from a few years ago). He played in 31 games in his 4-year Leatherneck career, finishing with 128 total tackles, 8 for loss (2 sacks), 14 passes defended, 4 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. During his sophomore year, he had a very memorable 95-yard INT return for a TD against Northern Iowa that tied the second-longest INT return in school history. He had a career-high 10 tackles against Coastal Carolina in 2015.
#7 Trey Dunkelberger, TE
Trey is a TE from Shillington, PA. He came to the Leathernecks after playing his first year at L.A. Pierce College, then two years with the Syracuse Orange. He had 1 catch in three games played this season for the Leathernecks. Trey has a Human Development Bachelor's degree and is working on (maybe finished with?) a Sports Management master's degree. He has also volunteered with Uplifting Athletes and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
#16 Tyrin Holloway, DB
Tyrin is a DB fronm Humble, TX. He transferred to Western following a 4-year career at Liberty where he earned his bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and is working on his master's in Executive Leadership. This season for the Leathernecks, he had 21 tackles in 11 games, with 3 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups. In his previous years at Liberty, he racked up 103 tackles in 36 games (starting 22), 7 INTs, 12 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
#17 Jaelon Acklin, WR
Jaelon is a WR from the small town of Mountain View, MO. He studied Psychology with a minor in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. In his first three years as a Leatherneck, Acklin aquired 364 total yards on 21 catches with 2 TDs. This year, however, as most of us are well aware, he stepped out of the shadow of previous successful WRs and proceeded to blow away school records for receiving in a single season. This year, he finished with 1,369 yards (4th overall in the FCS this season, a school record and 5th best performance in MVFC history) on 84 catches (school record and 6th best in MVFC history) with 12 receiving TDs (tied for 2nd in school history). His 114.1 receiving ypg average is also a school record. He also had a total 255 rushing yards with 4 rushing TDs. Acklin had 5 100+ yard games, which is tied for first in school history on that list and his 16 total TDs puts him tied for #7 on the list for most all-purpose TDs in a season. Despite not getting much his first three years, Acklin now ranks #8 on the list for career receiving yards in school history. He was named first-team All-MVFC and second-team AP All-American for his performance this season. In one particularly memorable game against South Dakota, Jaelon racked up 343 yards (surpassing the previous MVFC record by 51 yards and becoming the 4th best performance in FCS/I-AA history) on 19 catches (also a MVFC record) with 3 TDs.
#21 Devon Sanders, RB
Devon is a RB from Chicago, IL. He played in 30 games in his 4-year WIU career, picking up 195 yards on 36 carries with 1 TD. He also spent some time on the special teams squad, netting 13 tackles in that time.
#23 Josh Smith, DB
Josh is a DB from Chicago, IL who played in 45 games as a Leatherneck, with 41 total tackles, 1 for loss, and a forced fumble. He is an Architecture major.
#35 Adam Brott, LB
Adam is a LB from St. Clair, MO who is a Physical Education major. He played in 44 games in his 4-year career, picking up 125 tackles, 15.5 for loss (including 3 sacks), 8 passes defended and a forced fumble. He had a career high 8 tackles in the game against UNI this year.
#38 David Griffith, DB
David is a DB from Avon, IN. He played in 48 games over 4 years (I believe that's all of the games we've played in that timeframe) and has 219 total tackles, 9.5 for loss, 17 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 7 INTs. He had a career-high 14 tackles against SIU last season and had 13 tackles against SDSU this year.
#44 Brett Taylor, LB
Brett is a LB from Macomb. He has a RPTA bachelor's degree and is working on a master's in Sport Management. Like Griffith, Brett has played in all 48 games over his four years as a Leatherneck. In that time, he has 469 total tackles (3rd in school history), 32.5 for loss (5.5 sacks), 9 passes defended, 5 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 3 INTs including 1 returned for a TD in 2015. His 266 solo tackles and 203 assisted tackles rank him at #3 and #4 respectively in the school record books for those stats. His His sophomore year, he was second-team All-MVFC and Academic All-MVFC and was named to the HC hiring committee that brought Coach Fisher to Macomb. His Junior year, he was First Team All-American (STATS), Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America Team, First Team All-America (College Sports Madness), Second Team All-America (Associated Press), Finished 7th in the Buck Buchanan Award voting (National Defensive Player of the Year), First Team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference, and First Team Academic All-MVFC, and he led the nation in solo tackles per game. His senior year he has (so far) been named MVFC Defensive Player of the Year, First Team Academic All-MVFC, First Team AP All-American, and is a Top 3 finalist for the Buck Buchanan (FCS top Defensive Player) award.
#51 Colin Olson, DL
Colin is a LB from Mt. Prospect, IL who is a Pre-Nursing major. He played in 31 games and has 50 tackles in his career with 11.5 for loss (4 sacks), 1 pass defended, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.
#55 Josh Baldus, OL
Josh is an Engineering major from Palatine, IL who has played in 46 games over the past 4 years. This season, he was named All-MVFC Honorable Mention.
#66 Jacob Judd, OL
Jacob is a LEJA major (bachelor's in May 2016, working on master's) from Clinton, IA who played in 40 games over 4 years, starting the last 36 straight games as center. His sophomore year, he was Second Team All-MVFC, CoSIDA Academic All-District, Second Team Academic All-MVFC, and two-time MVFC 'Offensive Lineman of the Week'. His junior year, Jacob was named Second Team CoSIDA Academic All-America, Second Team All-MVFC, CoSIDA Academic All-District, and First Team Academic All-MVFC. This year so far, he was named first team All-MVFC, first team Academic All-MVFC, and was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy (top football scholar-athlete).
#70 Lucas Holder, OL
Lucas is in the MBA program at Western and is from Hillsville, VA. He joined the Leathernecks after 4 years with the Liberty Flames football program. While at Liberty, Lucas earned a bachelor's degree in Government (in 3 years with a 3.69 GPA) and then a master's degree in Public Policy/Public Administration (3.92 GPA). In 2016 at Liberty, he was named second team All-Big South and the conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Lucas played in 9 games this season for the Leathernecks.
#72 Jordan Detweiler, OL
Jordan is an Agriculture Business major from Williamsburg, IA. He played in a total of 11 games for the Leathernecks, missing the majority of his sophomore year with a knee injury. Last season he was awarded the Missouri Valley Football Conference President's Council Academic Award and MVFC Commissioner's Academic Excellence Award.
#77 James Torgerson, OL
James is a Finance major from Springfield, IL. He played in 47 games over the last four years for Western. He was named the MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week following this season's win over Illinois State and was named second team Academic All-MVFC this year.
The previously mentioned five men are all O-Linemen, and as to not repeat the information, these seniors were instrumental in our offensive success this year. They guided the Western Illinois offense to national top-30 rankings in team passing efficiency (10th, 154.36), red zone offense (15th, 87.8), turnovers lost (18th, 13), scoring offense (19th, 34.2), time of possession (20th, 31:43), first downs (23rd, 241), third down conversions (24th, 42.2) and passing offense (29th, 241.3).
#81 Tony Harper, TE
Tony is originally from Toledo, OH but spent three seasons at Pitt prior to coming to Western in 2016. He played in 23 games over the last two years, picking up 32 receptions for 338 yards, with 2 TDs. He had a career high 60 yards receiving (on 3 catches) against Illinois State earlier this year.
#87 Cal Breedlove, TE
Cal is from Kewanee, IL and spent two years at Northern Illinois before transferring to Western in 2015. He played in 24 games in his Leatherneck career.
#95 Mick Nelson, DL
Mick is an Agriculture Business major from Vadnais Heights, MN. He played in all 48 games over the last 4 years, finishing his career with 64 tackles, 13 for loss (including 3 sacks), and 3 fumble recoveries. He had a season high of 5 tackles against UNI earlier this season.
I also wanted to make sure to mention two senior former players who were team managers/assistants this season.
Brody is a LEJA major from Pana, IL. In spring of 2016, he "answered the call" as part of the Be The Match bone marrow donation program...the second member of the Leatherneck football team in two years to be matched. Following a leg/hip injury, Mr. Carls decided to hang up his cleats and made his contributions to the team from the coaching side of things from the press box. He will graduate next May and already has a job lined up for him in Oklahoma when he's done here.
Myles is a Biology major from Surprise, AZ. He played DB his redshirt freshman year in 2014, recording 18 tackles and 3 passes defended in 5 games. During his sophomore year in 2015, Spearman recorded 35 tackles, 5 passes defended and 2 interceptions in 13 games played. Due to an ACL injury during the offseason he had to miss the entire 2016 season and after recovery ended up taking longer than expected, decided to be a student mananger/coach. He will be graduating this Saturday and will be heading back to his home state (AZ) to work on a doctorate in Physical Therapy at A.T. Still University - Arizona School of Health Sciences.
All of these young men contributed both on and off the field to the recent success of the Leatherneck football team. Many of us will never know all of the hard work, blood, sweat, and pain that these men went through in pursuit of their dreams, but it's because of them and the ones who came before them that we are able to enjoy cheering for the Leathernecks. I personally want to thank them all for their contributions to our school and our community. Whether or not there is football in their future (either as a player or a coach), I wish them the best in whatever their futures hold.
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