Chippewa signees: 'Bigger, Faster, Stronger'

CMU coach John Bonamego discusses the 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday.
Feb. 1, 2017

Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - John Bonamego unveiled his 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday, and it was everything he and his staff imagined.

"We wanted to get bigger, faster and stronger with this class, and we did," said Bonamego on Wednesday morning as the binding national letters of intent arrived. "Twenty-two of our signees were team captains and 20 of them were multi-sport athletes. It's good to see kids coming here who are leaders, and who also have had success in a wide range of athletic endeavors.

"It's a very strong class overall. This is just the first step. We have to ensure that we develop these players. They're all good citizens, and we work to keep them on that path. It's important to us that we turn out not just great football players, but great ambassadors for our football program and our university."

Twenty-four future Chippewas signed national letters of intent and two others inked Chippewa letters of intent, which are signed by preferred walk-ons.

More than a dozen of the signees are from Michigan, as is to be expected, and the Chippewas received commitments from student-athletes who call the Chicago area home. But the program broadened its geographic reach with signees from Florida, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri and New York.

"We went head to head with teams like Rutgers, Boston College, Illinois, Nebraska, Purdue, Minnesota and won those battles," Bonamego said. "We're targeting kids who we feel like are going to improve our team from an athletic standpoint, from an academic standpoint and from a leadership standpoint."

The Chippewas signed nine players who were on the Detroit Free Press Fab 50, that publication's ranking of the 50 best seniors in the state of Michigan. CMU had more than twice as many players from that list than any other MAC school.

"We're always going to start here in-state, we want to make sure we're going to do the very best job that we can in the state of Michigan - that will never change. Our ability to utilize some of the relationships that we've developed and network ourselves in some other key areas is starting to pay dividends for us."

While the first Wednesday in February is the annual signing day, which programs around the country unveil their respective classes, the process is a year-round process, Bonamego said.

Once the letters are received for the class of 2017, work continues on the class of 2018 and even begins to gain momentum for the class of 2019.

"I think we did a really good job over the last year, the staff did, of getting out in their primary areas and some of the satellite areas," Bonamego said. "It's always important to get kids on campus.

"Whether it's Junior Day, spring practice, summer camps, in the fall for a game. That gives us an opportunity to continue to evaluate them, really get to know them. It gives the prospective student-athlete a chance to get to know our staff, our players, and to understand what the vision is for our program and from there it's really just continuing to develop relationships, and relationships are everything.

"It's an on-going process. It never stops."

CMU's signees:

Robi Stuart
Position: DL
Height: 6-2
Weight: 287
Hometown: Saginaw
Last school: Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central
Bio: Detroit Free Press Division 8 First Team All-State in 2016 ... Associated Press Division 7-8 First Team All-State in 2016 ... four-year starter ... made 68 tackles including 18 for loss and 10 sacks during senior year ... also recovered two fumbles and blocked a field goal in 2016 ... two-year captain ... Eagle Scout ... National Honor Society ... played for coach Mike Boyd.
Bonamego on Stuart: "Robi's a two-way player, offensive, defensive line. His other sports are track, where he's outstanding in the shot and discus, and hockey. It was really, really impressive to watch him play hockey. He's a very good football player and an early commit to us. Outstanding student. We're excited to have him and watch him develop over the next four years."

Bernhard Raimann
Position: TE
Height: 6-7
Weight: 230
Hometown: Steinbrunn, Burgenland, Austria
Last school: Delton-Kellogg HS
Bio: No. 50 on the Detroit Free Press Fab 50 .... In 2015, led team to 8-4 finish and first playoff appearance since 2001 ... earned four varsity letters ... also lettered in wrestling and track and field ... earned team most valuable award in track and field ... carries 3.8 grade point average ... played for coach Ryan Bates.
Bonamego on Raimann: "He's a big long tight end. He's another great find for us. He ran track, wrestled and played football. We had him in camp and got really good evaluations on him there. We knew before that that he could be a really good pass-catcher, and then we saw him block people and that's really all we needed to see. We're excited to have him. He's another player with a lot of upside, really high ceiling."

Brady Buell
Position: P/K
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 180
Hometown: Traverse City, Mich.
Last school: St. Francis HS
Bio: No. 10-ranked punter in the class of 2017 by Kornblue kicking ... First Team Division 7-8 Associated Press All-State ... two-time all-conference selection ... helped team to back-to-back conference and district championships ... kicked seven field goals in eight attempts ... nine punts downed inside the opponent 20-yard line, including four inside the 5 ... scored more than 150 career points ... 90 percent of career kickoffs went for touchbacks ... converted 97 percent of career extra point attempts ... earned two letters in basketball ... carries 3.30 grade point average ... played for coach Josh Sellers.
Bonamego on Buell: "We're just excited about getting another great kicker from the traverse City area. The last one that came to us from that area (David Harman) ended up being a three-year starter."

Johnathan Berghorst
Position: DT
Height: 6-2
Weight: 267    
Hometown: Zeeland, Mich.
Last school: Zeeland East HS
Bio: Detroit News Dream Team 2016 ... Detroit Free Press Dream Team 2016 ...  First Team Associated Press Division 3-4 All-State in 2016 ... 2016 Holland Sentinel Defensive Player of the Year ... No. 24 on Detroit News Blue Chip list ... No. 36 on Detroit Free Press Fab 50 ... No. 29 on MLive Top 50 Class of 2017 ... two-time First-Team All-OK Conference ... two-time Grand Rapids Press Dream Team ... Detroit News and Detroit Free Press First Team Division 3-4 All-State in 2015 ... Four-year starter ... two-year captain ... four-year letter winner in football and in track and field ... earned three letters in baseball ... All-State in shot put and in discus ... played for coach Derek Pennington.
Bonamego on Berghorst: "Excellent two-way player at Zeeland East. We project him on the defensive side of the ball, at defensive tackle. Strong player. We had him in camp and he was very impressive. He runs really well, moves well. Outstanding student, citizen. He's done a thousand pushups a day for three years straight."

Keegan Cossou
Position: TE
Height: 6-4 1/2
Weight: 240
Hometown: Greenville, Mich.
Last school: Greenville HS    
Bio: Ranked No. 24 on MLive Top 50 Class of 2017... ranked 27th on both Detroit News Blue Chip list and Free Press Fab 50 ...  three-time All-OK Conference selection ... Associated Press Division 1-2 Special Mention in 2015 ... Associated Press Division 1-2 honorable mention in 2016 ... helped lead Greenville in 2016 to its first playoff appearance since 2010 ... earned one letter in track & field ... played for coach Eddie Ostipow.
Bonamego on Cossou: "He's a kid that we've been recruiting a long time. We offered him going into his sophomore year. He had offers from Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue and the rest of the MAC. He's a big athlete. There's a lot of tight ends right now that are specialty guys, that are either blockers or pass-catchers. Keegan's not. He's a complete tight end who can do everything and never has to come off the field. He's a guy who can do just about everything."

Erik Ditzhazy
Position: OL
Height: 6-4 1/2
Weight: 273
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Last school: Forest Hills Northern HS
Bio: Ranked No. 43 on MLive Top 50 Class of 2017 ... No. 43 on Detroit Free Press Fab 50 ... No. 52 on Detroit News Blue Chip list ... Detroit Free Press All-State honorable mention in 2016 ... First-Team All-OK Conference in 2016 ... led team to three playoff appearances ... as a senior, surrendered just two sacks as team attempted 290 passes ... earned one letter in wrestling and three in track and field ... played for coach Ryan Oshnock.
Bonamego on Ditzhazy: "We were his first offer. He loved us, we loved him, and he committed quickly and stuck with it. He picked up several other offers along the way. We're really looking forward to adding him in the mix on the offensive line. He's a very physical player, and he's going to be a great addition to our team."

Chuck Jones
Position: LB
Height: 5-11
Weight: 216
Hometown: Ypsilanti, Mich.
Last school: Skyline HS
Bio: No. 19 on MLive Top 50 Class of 2017 ... No. 37 on Detroit News Blue Chip list ... ranked 47th on Free Press Fab 50 ... school's career rushing leader with 5,249 yards ... rushed for 1,258 yards during senior year ... amassed 292 career tackles including 25 for loss ... made six career sacks, four career interceptions ... three-year captain ... named team most valuable player three times during four-year career ... NAACP Student-Scholar Award in 2014 and '15 ... earned one letter in wrestling, going 34-7 as a freshman and becoming first wrestler in school history to place in individual district tournament ... carries a 3.39 grade point average ... played for coaches Andrew Sorgatz.
Bonamego on Jones: "Chuck's a kid that we've been recruiting since his sophomore year. Played both sides of the ball at Skyline High School, running back and linebacker, and we're projecting him on defense. He was also an outstanding wrestler. We developed a good relationship with him early, and we're happy to have him."

Evan Plate
Position: LB
Height: 6-2
Weight: 217
Hometown: Greenville, Mich.
Last school: Greenville HS
Bio: No. 50 on MLive's Top 50 Class of 2017 ... Recorded 10 sacks among 20 tackles-for-loss in career ... All-OK White First Team ... earned three letters in track & field ... his father Eric played at Central Michigan from 1989-92 ... played for coach Eddie Ostipow.
Bonamego on Plate: "We're projecting him as an outside linebacker but he could grow into a defensive end. He was the first commitment of this class. He'll be the third player from Greenville who will be playing for us, joining his current teammate Keegan Cossou and sophomore offensive lineman Steve Eipper. He's a throwback player. High-effort guy, plays from snap to whistle, highly competitive, 100 mph all the time. He was born a Chippewa, and he's going to be a Chippewa."

Steve Spenner
Position: LB
Height: 6-1 1/2
Weight: 217
Hometown: Berrien Center
Last school: Berrien Springs HS
Bio: Named by the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News First Team Division 5-6 All-State in 2016 ... Associated Press Division 5-6 First Team All-State in 2016 ... recorded 401 career tackles including 53 for loss ... recovered eight fumbles and made eight sacks in career ... also made four career interceptions and blocked two kicks ... helped lead team to three consecutive playoff appearances and conference and district championships during senior year ... Free Press and AP honorable mention All-State in 2015 ... four-time all-conference selection ... earned one letter in baseball ... played for coach Tony Scaccia.
Bonamego on Spenner: "Spenner's a tough, tough physical player. He comes from an athletic family and right now he projects as a linebacker. We think he's a kid who has the growth potential to possibly move to a defensive end."

Jacorey Sullivan
Position: WR
Height: 6-1 ½
Weight: 216
Hometown: Muskegon, Mich.
Last school: Muskegon HS
Bio: Ranked 28th on Free Press Fab 50 ... ranked No. 29 on Detroit News Blue Chip list ... Ranked 34th on MLive Top 50 Class of 2017 ... Detroit Free Press Division 3 First Team All-State in 2016 ... Associated Press Division 3 First Team All-State ... helped lead Big Reds to 2016 Division 2 state championship game ... finished senior year with 25 receptions for 571 yards and made 74 tackles and five interceptions with one pick-six on defense ... three-year starter in one of state's best prep programs ... played for Shane Fairfield.
Bonamego on Sullivan: "He comes from an outstanding high school program at Muskegon, and we're really excited to have another Big Red as part of our program. He's one of the top wide receiver prospects in the state of Michigan. He's a physical specimen. He moves really, really well for a kid his size and understands how to use his body. Long arms, strong hands. Just can't say enough good things about him."

Nick Follmer
Position: OL
Height: 6-4 1/2
Weight: 276
Hometown: O'Fallon, Mo.
Last school: Liberty HS
Bio: Three-time Missouri Football Coaches Association First Team All-District pick ... first-team all-conference in 2016 ... three-year starter and captain ... earned three letters in track and field ... carries a 3.4 grade point average ... played for coach Ryan McMillen.
Bonamego on Follmer: "He's looking good. He's the 15th-ranked player in the state of Missouri. We feel like we stole one here. He was at our big-man camp this summer and consistently dominated top-level competition. Very, very good player."

Jamezz Kimbrough
Position: OL
Height: 6-2
Weight: 261
Hometown: Homewood, Ill.
Last school: Homewood-Flossmoor HS
Bio: Chicago Tribune All-State honorable mention ... helped team to Class 8A state runner-up finish in 2014 ... helped lead team to South Suburban Conference championships and state quarterfinal playoff berths in 2015 and '16 ... team went a combined 31-6 during his three-year career ... three-year starter ... played for coach Craig Buzea.
Bonamego on Kimbrough: "He had offers from Nevada, Eastern Michigan, Wyoming and South Dakota State. He comes out of a great program. Three of his teammates are also signing Division I scholarships this year. He's one of the most athletic linemen that we saw this year. He can really run, has great feet, capable of playing multiple positions on the offensive line. I think he's an excellent prospect."

Norman "Bubba" Anderson
Position: CB
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 174
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Last school: Fletcher HS
Bio: Recorded 45 tackles and four interceptions in senior year ... led team to 10-4 finish ... also lettered in track and field and ran leg on league-champion 4x100 relay team ... carries a 3.5 grade point average ... earned four letters ... played for coach Kevin Brown.
Bonamego on Anderson: "Bubba Anderson's one of the first commits we've had out of Florida in some time. He played for (assistant coach) Ciatrick Fason down there. Ciatrick was standout player from Fletcher who ended up playing at Florida and then in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. Bubba played in a highly touted secondary; everybody in that secondary had scholarship offers, so he's used to playing at a high level and against good competition. He's got great feet, great length. He had a lot of offers."

Jack Combs
Position: WR
Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Last school: East Grand Rapids HS
Bio: Made 40 receptions for 801 yards and scored 10 touchdowns during senior year ... also returned two interceptions for touchdowns in 2016 ... Associated Press All-State ... First Team All-OK Conference Gold Division ... Grand Rapids Press Dream Team ... helped team to league title in 2016 and to state semifinals in 2015 ... also lettered in basketball and baseball ... played for coach Casey Longo.
Bonamego on Combs: "He's a smooth athlete with good hands and good body control. He comes out of breaks well, is a really good worker and he trains with former CMU great wide receiver Brian Anderson."

Drayton Law
Position: WR
Height: 6-4
Weight: 194
Hometown: Mobile, Ala.
Last school: Baker HS
Bio: Had 35 receptions for 920 yards and eight touchdowns over final two varsity seasons ... ranked the No. 3 wide receiver in Alabama by Rivals.com ... led team to two state playoff appearances ... played for coach Danny Smith
Bonamego on Law: "He was originally committed to Troy and he had other offers from Grambling and Southern Miss. He's really a unique body type. He's very long and he immediately adds size and leaping ability to our receiving corps. Great feet for his size and body control. We're excited about his willingness, his productivity, and his physicality in blocking in the run game. He's a hard-nosed kid."

Willie Reid
Position: S
Height: 6-1
Weight: 192
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Last school: Detroit Cass Tech
Bonamego on Reid: "He's a guy that kind of flew under the radar. His junior year he was behind two All-Americans and then he really burst out and had a huge season in 2016. He was overlooked by a lot of other teams. We just see him as a player with a tremendous amount of upside. He's a great citizen, great leader, and we're excited to have him here."

Elijah James
Position: DT
Height: 6-4
Weight: 267
Hometown: Plainfield, Ill.
Last school: Oswego East HS
Bio: Named to Chicago Tribune All-State Second Team in 2016 ... made 99 tackles including seven sacks ... led team to 9-2 record in 2016 ... four-year starter ... played for coach Tyson Leblanc.
Bonamego on James: "Had offers from Western, Purdue, FAU and Miami (Ohio). He's also an accomplished long snapper and a former basketball player with a huge wingspan and great size. Really, really high ceiling in terms of his growth. He has great burst and athleticism."

Ty Henderson
Position: WR
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 170
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
Last school: Dublin Jerome HS
Bio: Totaled 1,719 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns during senior year ... Associated Press Division I-II First Team All-State ... holds school receiving yardage and touchdown reception records ...led team to back-to-back league championships ...  team finished 10-2 and first playoff victory in school history in 2016 ... also lettered in track and field ... played for coach Bob Gecewich.
Bonamego on Henderson: "The thing that jumps off on the film about him is his speed. He can really run. He's capable of taking a catch the distance from anywhere on the field. He's smooth in and out of his breaks and he tracks the deep ball really well. We see him being a dangerous weapon for us in the slot."

Shawn Wiley
Position: OL
Height: 6-2
Weight: 296
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Last school: First Coast HS
Bio: Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star ... all-conference ... Blue-Grey All-American ... team captain ... earned three varsity letters ... also lettered in basketball and track and field ... played for coach Marty Lee.
Bonamego on Wiley: "He has exceptional strength, he's very athletic and was a two-way player in high school. A lot of people recruited him as a defensive lineman. We're projecting him on the offensive line at center."

Julian Hicks
Position: WR
Height: 6-2
Weight: 170
Hometown: Mayfield Heights, Ohio
Last school: Mayfield HS
Bio: Amassed 1,100 all-purpose yards, caught 30 passes and scored 16 touchdowns during senior season ... all-conference ... conference offensive player of the year ... All-State honorable mention ... earned two letters in basketball ... played for coach Ross Bandiera.
Bonamego on Hicks: "He's kind of a late bloomer who flew under the radar in his recruiting class. He really blossomed in his senior year and had a big season. Really excited about his combination of size and speed and his hands. He's a guy that will out-rebound people, breaks tackles, whatever it takes to get to the end zone."

Darius Bracy
Position: CB
Height: 5-10
Weight: 177
Hometown: Mobile, Ala.
Last school: Baker HS
Bio: Two-time Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 7A All-Stater ... as an option quarterback he accounted for 2,326 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior ... averaged 211 yards per game combined rushing and passing in 2016 ... all-conference ... also lettered in track and field ... carries a 3.3 grade point average ... played for coach Danny Smith.
Bonamego on Bracy: "He had offers from Army, Navy, Georgia Southern. We're projecting him on the defensive side of the ball as a corner. He's one of the top athletes in the state. Comes from the second-largest high school in the state of Alabama and a school that has four Division I signees."

Amir Siddiq
Positon: LB
Height: 6-1 1/2
Weight: 219
Hometown: Dearborn
Last school: Fordson HS
Bio: Recorded double-digit sacks in helping lead Fordson to league championship and Division 1 playoff berth ... played for coach Fouad Zaban.
Bonamego on Siddiq: "Amir is a very athletic linebacker, super athletic, with big-play ability. He's very explosive and he has the pedigree, coming out of a very solid program. He's a workout warrior - he put on 35 pounds from the end of his junior year. He really came on in his senior year, made huge strides."

Brandon Brown
Position: DB
Height: 5-10
Weight: 178
Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
Last school: Canada Prep Football Academy
Bonamego on Brown: "Brandon had offers from Boston College, Rutgers and Buffalo. We really had to hold off a late push from BC and Rutgers the last couple weeks leading up to signing day. He's a do-it-all athlete. Did everything, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and he's also an outstanding kick returner. We see him having an opportunity to compete in that role right off the bat and we're projecting him as a defensive player. He's an explosive kid. Play-maker. He's a threat anytime his hands are on the ball."

George Douglas
Position: LB
Height: 6-1
Weight: 208
Hometown: Belleville, Mich.
Last school: Belleville HS
Bio: Helped lead Belleville to 7-3 finish and a playoff berth ... played for coach Jermain Crowell.
Bonamego on Douglas: "George had offers Western, Eastern, Cincinnati, Kent State. He's played running back and linebacker. He's kind of a do-it-all athlete, he's really good in space. Has good speed, agility and quickness and we're really excited to add him to our linebacker corps."

Devonni Reed
Position: S
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 180
Hometown: Ypsilanti
Last school: Belleville HS
Bio: Ranked 37th on Detroit Free Press Fab 50 ... ranked No. 41 on Detroit News Blue Chip list ... Helped lead Belleville to 7-3 finish and a playoff berth ... played for coach Jermain Crowell.
Bonamego on Reed: "Devonni's another member of the Belleville Bruisers. Had offers from basically the entire MAC, and also Purdue. Played running back and safety and returned kicks. He'll be playing safety for us. He's an instinctive player, very physical and has the complete package."

Troy Brown
Position: S
Height: 6-0
Weight: 188
Hometown: Flint, Mich.
Last school: Carman-Ainsworth HS
Bio: Ranked 46th on Detroit Free Press Fab 50 ... No. 47 on MLive Top 50 Class of 2017 ... led Cavaliers to Saginaw Valley Blue championship and playoff berth ... played for coach Jerry Parker.
Bonamego on Brown: "One of the top athletes to come out of the Flint area this year. He's also an excellent basketball player. He did it all for his high school team, played quarterback, wide receiver, safety. In one of his games this year he had the trifecta: he had a receiving touchdown, a throwing touchdown and returned an interception for a touchdown. Very instinctive player, smooth fluid athlete. He's got a really good frame, good body control. We project him as a safety."

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