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    A Look Ahead - Forecasting the 2022 MAC West teams

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    In part two of two, we look ahead to what the starting lineups of the :mac: West could possibly look like in 2022.  The MAC East's look-ahead can be found here: http://cfbhc.com/index.php?/topic/21369-a-look-ahead-forecasting-the-2022-mac-east-teams/


    And again, the notes:

    • +1.0 progression is assumed for all players.
    • An in-position player will ALWAYS be listed ahead of any out-of-position (OOP) players, no matter how much better/worse they are.  This is done to show any potential holes.  If there is a better OOP option, though, he will be mentioned in the analysis.
    • Defense style (3-4, 4-3) chosen based on best guess of available personnel.
    • LS/KR/PR will not be listed unless the team has specialized players at those positions.


    :ball: Ball State Cardinals

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Phillip Good (Jr) Pocket 3.0 3.0
    RB Damani Laws (So) Speed 3.5 5.0
    FB Usher Robbins (Jr) Run Blocking 3.5 3.5
    WR Sebastian Amato (So) Speed 3.0 4.5
    WR Nicholas Strong Sr Target 3.5 3.5
    WR Kaden Jenkins Fr Speed 1.5 3.5
    TE Steven Moya (So) Receiving 3.0 5.0
    OT Carter Shannon Sr Pass Blocking 3.0 3.0
    OG Alex Story Jr Pass Blocking 3.5 3.5
    C Louis Escamilla (Jr) Pass Blocking 3.0 3.0
    OG Elisara Mataafa (Fr) Pass Blocking 2.5 3.5
    OT Greg Harding Jr Run Blocking 2.5 2.5


    Defense (3-4) Player Class Type Skill Pot
    DE Julian Tate (Fr) Contain 3.0 3.5
    DT Gregory McGee (Sr) 2-Gap 3.5 3.5
    DE Christian Mosley Sr Contain 3.5 3.5
    OLB Tyler Huntley (Jr) Coverage 3.5 3.5
    ILB Jon Carpenter (Jr) Mike 3.5 3.5
    ILB Gregory Wilkins (Fr) Will 2.0 4.5
    OLB Frank Long So Coverage 3.0 3.0
    CB Amara Flowers Fr Zone Coverage 3.0 3.5
    CB (ATH) Giovanni Valentine Fr Zone Coverage 2.5 3.5
    CB Troy Odom Sr Man Coverage 3.0 3.0
    FS Geno Atkins (So) Zone Coverage 3.0 4.0
    SS DeAndre Simms (Jr) Zone Coverage 4.0 4.0


    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot
    K Kenneth Godfrey Sr Power 3.5 3.5
    P Junior Aragon Sr Accuracy 3.0 3.0
    LS Pat Cannon Jr Traditional 3.5 3.5
    PR Bradley McCullough So Specialist 2.5 3.0
    KR Frank Strauss So Specialist 2.0 4.0


    • 2022: Maybe the most exciting special teams in the conference with actual return specialists.  Two of them to boot!  Outside of that the Cardinals look to have some serious weapons in Damani Laws and Steven Moya.  Unless coach @npklemm chooses to throw either of his true freshman QBs into the fire immediately, Phillip Good will be keeping the seat warm in 2022.  He probably will be a game-manager type of QB, being asked to take care of the ball and maximize the chances Laws and Moya can hurt the opposition.  The defense should be pretty solid, helped by the fact that nearly every defensive recruit from the 2021 class can step in right away if needed.  Having SS DeAndre Simms doesn't hurt either.  Add in klemm's coaching pedigree and Ball State is most likely to be the third MAC West bowl participant after Toledo and WMU.
    • After that: The Cardinals have their QB of the future in Erik Parker, now they need to prop up the offense around him.  The last couple of recruiting classes slanted to the defensive side of the ball and Parker will likely get just a year to play alongside Laws and Moya, so finding more skill players and talented o-linemen will be crucial in keeping Ball State's upward momentum going.


    :cmu: Central Michigan Chippewas

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Byron Suggs (So) Scrambling 4.0 5.0
    RB Daveed Huff (Fr) Speed 2.0 4.5
    FB Nicholas Meredith (So) Run Blocking 3.0 4.0
    WR (ATH) Joseph Aikman (So) Target 4.0 4.0
    WR Dontae Peppers (Fr) Speed 3.0 3.5
    WR Richard Mace Sr Speed 3.0 3.0
    TE Jasper Rowley (Sr) Blocking 4.5 4.5
    OT Rocco McDonough (Jr) Pass Blocking 3.5 3.5
    OG Sean Doran Sr Pass Blocking 3.5 3.5
    C Carter Nance (Jr) Pass Blocking 3.0 3.0
    OG Ethan Bennett (So) Run Blocking 3.0 4.5
    OT Milo Yost Sr Run Blocking 3.0 3.0


    Defense (4-3) Player Class Type Skill Pot
    DE Nazir Tatum-Kimbrough Sr Contain 4.0 4.0
    DT Kareem Lindsey (So) 2-Gap 3.0 4.0
    DT Jeremy Tubbs Sr 1-Gap 3.0 3.0
    DE Rory Bolin Sr Contain 3.5 3.5
    OLB Bradley Lloyd (Fr) Coverage 2.0 4.0
    ILB Graham Frye (Sr) Mike 3.5 3.5
    OLB Jalen Kemp So Coverage 3.0 3.0
    CB DeSean Mathis (So) Man Coverage 3.0 3.5
    CB Sebastian Simpson Sr Man Coverage 3.0 3.0
    CB Bill Haas (Fr) Zone Coverage 2.0 3.5
    FS Greg Altman (Sr) Man Coverage 3.5 3.5
    SS Louis Dobbins (Fr) Man Coverage 3.0 3.5


    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot
    K Brandon Mayberry So Power 2.0 3.0
    P Nikolas Nadeau Sr Power 3.0 3.0
    LS Mike Henley Jr Specialized 4.0 4.0


    • 2022: With QB Byron Suggs, RB Daveed Huff, TE Jasper Rowley, and ATH/WR Joseph Aikman, Central Michigan has the foundation to be one of the better offenses in the conference.  The question will be how the surrounding pieces hold up - the offensive line won't be as concerning as it was in 2021 but it still isn't a comfortable foundation that the Chippewa offense can rely on yet.  The defense should STILL has DEs Nazir Tatum-Kimbrough and Rory Bolin for what feels like the 17845th year in a row, and once again the two bookends will be asked to provide enough pressure to compensate for what looks to be an average at best defense.  DT Kareem Lindsey will need to step up and make the duo's lives easier.  This team can make a bowl, but they won't have much wiggle room.
    • After that: ...it's hard to say, actually.  Central feels like a team that created a good talent floor and now needs to start building upon it.  If the Chips can do that successfully while leveraging the Byron Suggs Era as long as they can, CMU could seriously threaten the Toledo-WMU hold on the MAC West title.  But if they recruit poorly and don't attract enough quality recruits to Mt. Pleasant, several more years of around-.500 ball could await them.


    :emu: Eastern Michigan Chippewas

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Giovanni Shaw (Sr) Scrambling 4.5 4.5
    RB Tyler Pearson (Fr) Power 2.5 5.0
    FB E.J. Greer Sr Pass Blocking 4.5 4.5
    WR Declan Blanton Sr Target 3.5 3.5
    WR Giovanni Hooker (Jr) Target 3.0 3.0
    WR Kevin Guzman So Target 2.0 3.5
    TE Amir Nixon (Sr) Blocking 3.5 3.5
    OT Keith McNeil (Fr) Pass Blocking 2.0 3.5
    OG Ned McCabe (Sr) Pass Blocking 3.5 3.5
    C Jake Dodd So Run Blocking 2.0 2.5
    OG Sawyer Boswell Sr Pass Blocking 3.5 3.5
    OT Michael Webber So Pass Blocking 2.0 3.0


    Defense (3-4) Player Class Type Skill Pot
    DE Nicholas Bass (Jr) Contain 3.5 3.5
    DT Ashton Humphrey (Sr) 2-Gap 3.5 3.5
    DE Thomas Randle-Douglas (Fr) Blitz 2.0 3.0
    OLB Brian Pearson (Jr) Blitz 3.5 3.5
    ILB Julien Rinehart (Sr) Will 4.0 4.0
    ILB Patryk Bennett (Sr) Mike 3.5 3.5
    OLB Mendy Cantrell (Sr) Coverage 3.0 3.0
    CB Julian Gaines (Sr) Man Coverage 3.0 3.0
    CB Abdul McQueen (So) Zone Coverage 3.0 3.0
    CB Javier Blackwell (Fr) Man Coverage 2.0 3.0
    FS Jacob Guillory So Man Coverage 2.5 3.5
    SS Ibrahima Griggs Jr Man Coverage 3.0 4.0


    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot
    K Donald Bray (Fr) Accuracy 2.0 3.5
    P Joshua House So Power 3.0 3.0
    LS Colin Cunningham So Specialized 2.0 3.0
    PR Jose Carranza Fr Hybrid 1.5 3.0


    • 2022: Giovanni Shaw is a good QB that has been asked to do too much on his own for virtually his entire career.  In his final year he finally gets some help in the form of stud RB Tyler Pearson.  But the same bugaboo that's plagued Eastern's offense over the last few years - the line - is still an issue in 2022.  Pearson is much more talented than previous starter Chris Morton, but first contact with defenders may occur at or behind the line of scrimmage much more than he'd like.  The Eagle defense is... there.  Unfortunately for them two of their best defenders (Julien Rinehart and Mosi Gary) play the same position, and outside of junior SS Ibrahima Griggs there isn't anyone else starting that really scares opposing offenses.
    • After that: As with Akron, EMU has plenty of bodies but not as much quality coming.  2021's class currently has 21 commits but only five with a 3.5 potential (none better than that).  The previous class (featuring Pearson, 4-star FB Ned Hansen) will prop the Eagles up for a year of two, but consistent recruiting of 3.5-4 star players are needed to continue filling in the holes.  It may be a few years yet before EMU has a solid roster from top-to-bottom.


    :niu: Northern Illinois Huskies

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Charlie Sanford (Sr) Pocket 4.0 4.0
    RB Khalil Eubanks (Jr) Speed 3.5 3.5
    FB Akeem Mims Jr Run Blocking 4.0 4.0
    WR Maxwell Rider (So) Speed 3.0 4.0
    WR Gabriel Davidson So Speed 2.5 3.0
    WR (TE) Jayson Dowell Fr Receiving 2.0 3.0
    TE Jaden Payton (Jr) Blocking 4.0 4.0
    OT Jermon McCullough Jr Pass Blocking 4.0 4.0
    OG (ATH) Faresa Lealofi (Fr) Pass Blocking 2.0 4.5
    C Cooper O'Neill (Jr) Run Blocking 4.0 4.0
    OG Austin Haynes (Sr) Run Blocking 3.5 3.5
    OT Anthony Sprague (Sr) Run Blocking 3.0 3.0


    Defense (3-4) Player Class Type Skill Pot
    DE Tywin Reis Sr Blitz 2.5 2.5
    DT Samuel Nielsen (Sr) 1-Gap 3.5 3.5
    DE Cristopher Carmona Jr Contain 3.0 3.5
    OLB Sean Clarke Sr Blitz 3.5 3.5
    ILB (ATH) Oliver McNeal (Jr) Mike 4.5 5.0
    ILB Kieran Linn (Sr) Will 4.5 4.5
    OLB Ivan Rosenberg Jr Blitz 3.0 3.0
    CB Samuel Echols (Sr) Zone Coverage 4.5 4.5
    CB Alpha Mitchell (Sr) Zone Coverage 3.5 3.5
    CB Malachi Tinsley So Zone Coverage 2.5 2.5
    FS Christian Brumfield (Sr) Zone Coverage 3.0 3.0
    SS Antonio Weeks (So) Zone Coverage 4.0 4.5


    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot
    K Jasper Horton (Sr) Accuracy 3.5 3.5
    P Charles Hoff (Sr) Power 3.5 3.5
    LS Dean North (So) Specialized 3.0 4.5


    • 2022: Northern Illinois still has some talent.  As a combined group their linebackers/secondary could be among the best in the conference.  QB Charlie Sanford (or Emmett Mast, depending on the QB competition I expect coach @subsequent to run in spring practice) will probably feel as comfortable as any NIU QB has felt in a while, considering their offensive line will be the best it's been in several seasons.  If things fall the right way and the schedule isn't too unforgiving, the Huskies have a chance to compete for a bowl game in 2022.
    • After that: After 2022 is where things could really fall apart for the Huskies.  With only two CBs and one WR recruited in 2020 and 2021 to date, Northern Illinois runs the very real risk of starting walk-ons and second-string OOP players on the offensive and defensive boundaries for years to come.  They also need to replace a free safety and have a plan for when McNeal and Linn depart.  They will also need to rebuild their talent floor in general so QB Emmett Mast then QBOTF Brody Hill aren't playing with a collection of 2.5-star players.  A rebuild over 2023-2025 looks to be coming is what I'm saying.


    :toledo: Toledo Rockets

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Giovanni Baughman (Sr) Hybrid 3.5 3.5
    RB Jamel Hopkins (Sr) Speed 3.0 3.0
    FB Jacob Holt (Sr) Pass Blocking 5.0 5.0
    WR Justin Evans (Sr) Speed 4.5 4.5
    WR Prince Malone (So) Target 3.0 4.5
    WR Jaiden Hightower (So) Target 3.0 3.5
    TE Nate Linsley (Sr) Blocking 5.0 5.0
    OT (ATH) Keith Holbrook (Jr) Pass Blocking 4.5 5.0
    OG Brett Spangler (Sr) Run Blocking 4.5 4.5
    C Vic Troutman (So) Pass Blocking 3.0 5.0
    OG Vincent McCabe (So) Run Blocking 3.0 5.0
    OT Isaac Decker So Run Blocking 3.0 5.0


    Defense (4-3) Player Class Type Skill Pot
    DE Dwyane Briggs (Sr) Contain 4.5 4.5
    DT De'Shawn Beckwith Sr 1-Gap 4.5 4.5
    DT Damian Larkin (Jr) 2-Gap 5.0 5.0
    DE Ezekiel Williams Jr. Sr Blitz 4.5 4.5
    OLB Nicolas Kowalski Sr Coverage 4.0 4.0
    ILB Ryan Carr Jr Mike 4.0 4.5
    OLB Dennis Jarrett (Jr) Blitz 3.5 3.5
    CB Quinton Wilkerson Jr Zone Coverage 3.5 3.5
    CB Jerraud Bynum (So) Zone Coverage 3.0 3.5
    CB DeVante Gilliam Fr Man Coverage 1.0 4.0
    FS Mekhi Singleton (Jr) Zone Coverage 4.5 4.5
    SS Henry Krause (Sr) Zone Coverage 4.0 4.0


    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot
    K Sam Painter (So) Accuracy 3.0 5.0
    P Eric Caudill (Jr) Accuracy 5.0 5.0
    LS Ropati Tuaolo So Specialized 2.0 2.5


    • 2022: Toledo is a tough team to forecast.  Let's address the big omission first: RB Gabe Ciamo isn't listed because I honestly believe he declares after the 2021 season.  He's been a 5.0 of 5.0 in both the 2021 and 2020 seasons and if the 2021 senior RB class is as meh as @Bubada thinks, it makes sense for Ciamo to jump early.  The other big question is at QB, where true freshman Mario Pierre (2.0 of 4.5 Scrambling) could start depending on how @deathcpo wants to tailor the offense.  Where there is no question is on the lines - both of them actually.  It's unreal that the Rockets have four 5-stars on that offensive line, but that's the world we live in and whoever is under center is going to be very well protected.  The defensive front four will likely eat almost every offensive line they face, and while there are downgrades at RB and the cornerbacks Toledo still has enough talent to easily be one of the best teams in the MAC in 2022.
    • After that: The 2020 recruiting class was a disaster outside of JuCo.  After starting off with a bang by signing 5-star OLB Blake Gauthier, Pierre, and CB DeVante Gilliam the Toledo 2021 class has bogged down with only ten commits, although they currently are leading on 4.5-star WR Atamu Tatupu and 4-star RB Alvin Hines.  The bill for these recruiting classes starts to come due in 2023.  The offensive line and Pierre will keep the Rockets competitive, but there is a clear drop-off in talent after 2022.  Toledo has 11 seniors on their their projected 2022 lineup and while one or two positions will receive talent upgrades after graduation (QB, OLB), most will be downgrades and some positions don't even have a replacement on the current roster.  Then the Rockets lose another seven starters to graduation after 2023.  There is enough here to build on and deathcpo deserves the benefit of the doubt for his body of work, but the Rockets could fall back to the MAC West pack if they don't find longer-term answers to their upcoming holes.


    :wmu: Western Michigan Broncos

    Offense Player Class Type Skill Pot
    QB Chase Sims (Sr) Scrambling 4.0 4.0
    RB DeSean Madison (Jr) Power 5.0 5.0
    FB Ian Jewell Fr Run Blocking 2.5 3.5
    WR Josh Whitt (Sr) Speed 4.0 4.0
    WR Aaden Jack (Sr) Speed 3.0 3.0
    WR Bryce Waters (So) Target 3.0 3.0
    TE Hunter Stallings (Sr) Blocking 3.5 3.5
    OT Taua Mataafa (So) Pass Blocking 3.0 3.5
    OG Alex Westbrook (Sr) Run Blocking 4.0 4.0
    C Otto Langston (Sr) Run Blocking 3.5 3.5
    OG (ATH) Kualii Umaga (So) Pass Blocking 3.0 5.0
    OT Avery Curley Jr Run Blocking 3.0 4.5


    Defense (4-3) Player Class Type Skill Pot
    DE Kayden Soriano (Fr) Blitz 2.0 4.5
    DT Silas Booker (Jr) 1-Gap 4.5 4.5
    DT Rocco Booker (Sr) 2-Gap 4.0 4.0
    DE Victor Roberson (So) Blitz 3.5 3.5
    OLB Tony Ackerman (Fr) Coverage 2.5 3.5
    ILB Eric Holbrook (Sr) Mike 3.0 3.0
    OLB Christian Reese So Coverage 2.0 5.0
    CB Miles Bradford So Man Coverage 3.0 4.0
    CB Abdul Dixon Jr Zone Coverage 3.0 3.0
    CB Damani Powell Fr Man Coverage 1.5 4.5
    FS Julius Reese Fr Zone Coverage 2.0 5.0
    SS Jaylin Hinds (Sr) Zone Coverage 4.0 4.0


    Special Teams Player Class Type Skill Pot
    K Harry DeMarco (Jr) Power 4.0 4.0
    P Tony Post So Accuracy 3.5 3.5
    LS Willy Ballard Jr Specialized 3.0 4.0


    • 2022: Another year of DeSean Madison pounding the ball down the defense's throat and Chase Sims throwing it over their heads when they get too close to the line of scrimmage.  A simple formula that's worked well over the last couple of years and will probably work just as well this year.  Although losing LT Marc Allen to graduation and the NFL is a big loss all in all the Broncos offense should still perform at a high level.  The defense is retooling on the fly with three freshmen expected to start in 2022, and fourth slotting in at nickel back.  While the linebacking corps still need another year to look ready for prime time and the secondary isn't quite at the lofty standards of the Sean Taylor era, the defensive line will be very good.  But make no mistake, it's the Western offense that should have them competing for the 2022 MAC West title.
    • After that: WMU's 2021 recruiting class is currently ranked 26th in the nation, but they're not done - they currently lead for 4-star Texas DT Leonard Landrum.  The Broncos are putting their playoff appearance to good use on the recruiting trail, and it seems to be creating a solid foundation that should keep them competitive over the next few years.  The bigger questions are these:
      When Madison leaves, will the WMU tradition of excellent running backs (Emmanuel Fields, Gabriel Shields, DeSean Madison) finally run its course?  And with pocket QB Gabe Baker, pass-catching TE William Griggs, and WR Viliamu Vainu'upo all coming to Kalamazoo in 2022, will this signal a shift in the Broncos' offensive philosophy moving forward?  


    Jieret's first guess at 2022 MAC West order of finish:

    1. :wmu:*
    2. :toledo:*
    3. :ball:
    4. :cmu:
    5. :niu: 
    6. :emu: 


    *Flip WMU And Toledo if Ciamo does stay for his senior season.


    I hope you enjoyed the Look-Ahead.  While these articles come with huge caveats, hopefully the commentary provided something to chew on for the coaches, fans, and observers of Everyone's Favorite Conference!


    (Now watch JuCo completely render these articles obsolete.)


    Soon we will return you to your normal MAC Network ("If it's not MAC, it's wack!") content.  But if you have any suggestions, comments, or errors you'd like to discuss I'd love to hear them.  Until next time!

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