Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan football coach John Bonamego added the final piece to the Class of 2018 on Wednesday when he announced the signing of Joel Wilson of Petoskey.
Wilson, who checks in at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, joins 16 Chippewas who signed during the early period in December.
Wilson is a three-sport standout at Petoskey High School, starring in football as a quarterback/linebacker/punter, in basketball as a guard/small forward, and in baseball as a pitcher.
"Once again, we set our goals on getting bigger, stronger and faster," CMU coach John Bonamego said. "we feel we've done that again."
As usual, the Chippewas welcomed many in-state student-athletes mixed with several who come from the likes of New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Georgia.
Seven of the 17 signees hail from the state of Michigan and 10 – including two from Illinois and one from Indiana – are from within a six-hour radius of Mount Pleasant.
"I think we've done a really good job in-state," Bonamego said. "That's always going to be our top priority, to sign players who are from within a six-hour radius of Mount Pleasant where 75 percent of our team comes from. It's very important to do a great job of scouring the state and making sure we bring as much homegrown talent as we can to CMU."
The program has been able to broaden its reach in welcoming talent from several states, including Flordia and New Jersey.
"With the addition of some new coaching staff members, we've been able to branch out into some other areas," said Bonamego, who also stressed that the Chippewas have continuously sought to recruit multi-sport athletes. Fourteen of the 17 signees played at least two varsity sports in high school, he said.
“The more opportunities a young man has to compete the better off they are,” he said. “You cannot manufacture competition and game-on-the-line, ball-in-your-hand (situations), whether it’s basketball, whether it’s head-to-head in track, whether it’s in baseball -- I think competition is huge and when you see guys compete, no matter what it is, it’s a very, very valuable learning tool.”
Not only has Bonamego continued the program's in-state emphasis in recruiting, but he has reinforced it with three legacy signees in linebacker Cory Gildersleeve of Saline, defensive lineman NeVen Simington of Saginaw, and offensive lineman Tyden Ferris of Delton.
The fathers of all three played at CMU. Cory Gildersleeve Sr. lettered at CMU from 1993-95; Nate Simington, his son's coach at Saginaw High School, earned letters as a Chippewa in 1992 and in 1994-95; and Rollie Ferris earned three letters at CMU from 1995-97.
"It's a special thing," said Bonamego, who earned two letters as a walk-on at CMU in 1985-86. "It's not a reason we necessarily offer somebody. Those players, they're deserving. It is unique, and I think it makes the bond a little bit stronger. It's as exciting for me, probably, as it is for those families.
"Family ties and locale are factors, Bonamego said, but at the end of the day - or, more appropriately, at the beginning - the Chippewas have a checklist to which all recruits are subjected.
"They first have to be individuals with the type of character that we want to bring into our community, that's No. 1," he said. "No. 2, we have to feel like they're going to be successful as students here. They have to have the makeup that we're looking for and sometimes that's hard to quantify.
But I think the more time that you're able to spend with the person, the more people you talk to - their high school coach, the people in the school - you learn a little bit about what makes somebody tick and watching them play." Meet the new Chippewas:
TE Joel Wilson • 6-5 • 210 • Petoskey, Mich/Petoskey HS
Threw for 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 500 yards and seven TDs as a senior … school’s all-time leader in pass completions and ranks second in program history in passing yardage … earned First Team All-Big North Conference honors on both offense and defense and received honorable mention as a punter … Associated Press All-State Honorable Mention as a quarterback … carries a 3.14 grade point average.
DB Montrae Braswell • 5-11 • 187 • Avon Park, Fla./Avon Park HS
Earned Second Team All-State honors in 2017 ... earned Avon Park Offensive Player of the Year Award ... led team to 10-2 finish in 2017 ... led team to three consecutive district championships from 2015-17 ... also lettered in football and track and field ... named team MVP in track and field ... played football for coach Wade Jackson
DL Tico Brown • 6-2 • 276 • Kokomo, Ind./Homestead HS
Three-year varsity letter winner ... made 224 tackles, 21.5 sacks, forced three fumbles, made 39 tackles-for-loss, five pass breakups in career ... holds school career sack record ... named team's Outstanding Defensive Lineman during sophomore, junior and senior seasons ... two-time First Team All-Summit Athletic Conference ... twice named to Fort Wayne Journal Gazette All-Northeast Indiana Team ... led Homestead to 8-2 finish in 2017 and back-to-back sectional titles in 2016 and `17 ... played high school football for Chad Zolman
ATH Braeden Childress • 6-3 • 210 • Big Rapids, Mich./Big Rapids HS
Two-year team captain ... three-time first-team All-Central State Activities Association ... lead team to conference and district championships in 2014 ... earned four letters in basketball and one in baseball ... two-time all-conference selection in basketball ... led basketball team to two district and one regional championship ... played football for Mike Selzer at Big Rapids.
RB Jonathan Clark • 5-10 • 185 • Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack HS
Accumulated 1,643 all-purpose yardage - rushing (1,242), receiving (186) and kick returns (215) -- during varsity career ... as a junior at Paramus Catholic, he accounted for 1,130 all-purpose yards and ran for 10 touchdowns.
LB Carlton Cleophat • 6-0 • 210 • Pompano Beach, Fla./Blanche Ely HS
Recorded 26 sacks, forced 10 fumbles, recovered five fumbles and made more than 250 tackles during prep career ... two-time team most valuable player ... twice received All-Broward County honorable mention from the Sun Sentinel ... also a standout in discus and shotput in track and field ... played high school football for coach Calvin Davis.
OL Nolan Eike • 6-6 • 260 • Batavia, Ill./Batavia HS
Led Batavia to 13-1 finish and Illinois Class 7A state championship ... started 25 consecutive games ... First Team All-Upstate Eight Conference in 2017 ... All-Kane County and Beacon News All-Area in 2017 ... Batavia Bulldog Award for leadership/character in 2017 ... earned all-league honorable mention in 2016 ... carries a 4.2 grade point average ... two-time Academic All-Upstate Eight Conference honoree ... earned Illinois High School Association Academic All-State honors in 2017 ... four-year honor roll student ... National Math Honor Society and National Science Honor Society ... served as team captain during senior season ... also lettered in track and field ... chose CMU over Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan ... also drew interest from, among others, Illinois and Northern Illinois and at least two Ivy League schools ... played high school football for coach Dennis Piron.
OL Tyden Ferris • 6-4 • 236 • Delton, Mich./Delton-Kellogg HS
Named First Team Division 6 All-State by the Detroit Free Press and First Team Division 5-6 All-State by the Associated Press in 2017 ... made 21.5 tackles including 13 solos in 2017 ... posted 4 sacks among 6.5 tackles-for-loss in 2017 ... registered 37 pancake blocks without surrendering a sack during year year ... earned team Most Valuable Player Award in leading Delton Kellogg to 6-5 finish and district title-game berth in 2017 ... two-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference First Team pick ... two-time All-Barry County selection ... Named to Kalamazoo Gazette Dream Team in 2017 ... carries a 3.8 grade point average, ranking in the top 10 in his class ... team captain ... member of the National Honor Society ... selected to play in 2018 Blue-Grey All-American Bowl ... son of Rollie Ferris, who lettered at CMU from 1995-97 ... also earned four letters in wrestling and three in track and field ... three-time team captain in wrestling ... qualified for the State Finals in track and field in both the discus and the shot put in 2017 ... three-time placer in Individual State Wrestling Tournament, including a second in 2016 and a third in 2017, both at 215 pounds ... played high school football for coach Ryan Bates.
LB Cory Gildersleeve • 6-2 • 220 • Saline, Mich./Saline HS
Three-year starter ... recorded 265 tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss and five sacks in career ... team captain and most valuable player in 2017, helped lead team to 7-2 finish and playoff berth ... as a junior in 2016, helped Saline to 11-1 finish, Southeastern Conference championship, and Division I regional title game ... Saline finished a combined 29-4 during his three-year varsity career ... three-time All-SEC linebacker ... 2017 All-AnnArbor.com Dream Team selection ... earned Division 1-2 All-State honorable mention from the Detroit Free Press and from the Associated Press ... selected to play in 2018 Blue-Grey All-American Bowl ... carries a 3.7 grade point average ... father Cory lettered for the Chippewas from 1993-95 ... earned four varsity letters in track and field ... played football at Saline for coach Joe Palka.
DB Randall Harris • 6-0 • 182 • Walled Lake, Mich./Western HS
Named to All-Lakes Valley Conference team ... earned a spot on the Detroit News All-North team ... made two interceptions, deflected 21 passes and made 55 tackles during senior season ... also amassed 345 yards in punt returns during the season ... three-year varsity letter winner ... helped lead Western to 8-2 finish and playoff berth while serving as a team captain in 2017 ... earned three stars from 247sports.com ... earned four varsity letters in track and field and three in basketball ... played football for coach Michael Zdebski.
DL LaQuan Johnson • 6-3 • 230 • Flint, Mich./Burton Bendle HS
Two-year starter ... recorded 184 tackles, 21 sacks and scored five touchdowns during two-year varsity career ... served as team captain and was named Bendle's Defensive Player of the Year during senior year ... named First Team All-State by the Detroit Free Press and by the Associated Press during senior year ... two-time All-Genesee Area Conference selection ... also lettered in basketball at Bendle, earning all-conference honors in 2016-17 ... played football for coach Jason Beverly.
DB Kobe Lewis • 6-0 • 215 • Americus, Ga./Americus-Sumter
Named co-Player of the Year in Regional 1-4A … during senior year, rushed for 1,734 yards and finished with 204 yards in receptions … scored 25 touchdowns I 2017 … made 14 solo tackles and two interceptions during senior season … led Americus-Sumter to 9-3 finish and second round of Class AAA playoffs … chose CMU over Georgia State.
WR Keonta Nixon • 6-4 • 205 • Roselle, Ill./Lake Park HS
Earned honorable mention on 2017 All-DuPage County Team ... among 2017 highlights was 69-yard touchdown reception and six-catch game in state playoff game.
QB George Pearson, 6-1, 210 pounds, Matawan, N.J./Mater Dei HS
A quarterback who can run and pass, Pearson led Mater Dei Prep to a New Jersey Non-Public Group II title in 2016, his first year at the school ... Had 1,456 yards and 29 touchdowns and ran for nearly 400 yards as a junior ... As a senior, he helped Mater Dei return to the Group II finals ... Was a two-time New Jersey sectional champ, the first coming at Matawan in Central Jersey Group 3 as a freshman ... Finished high school career with an 8-2 record in state playoffs.
WR Tyrone Scott, 6-3, 187 pounds, Savannah, Ga./Jenkins
Opened senior season at Jenkins High School with five receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns ... Caught a 45-yard TD pass with no time on the clock in a one-point victory in November ... attracted recruiting interest from 11 teams, including Western Kentucky, Tulane, Mercer, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State, Boston College ... Had 30 catches for 821 yards and six touchdowns as a junior.
DL NeVen Simington • 6-4 • 225 • Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw HS
Earned four letters while playing for at Saginaw for his father and coach Nate Simington ... made 306 career tackles ... two-time team captain ... also played defensive end, outside linebacker and tight end in high school ... Named to Saginaw News All-Area Dream Team Second Team as a linebacker and to All-Saginaw Valley Conference First Team in 2017 ... Named Detroit Free Press First Team All-State in 2016 ... named to All-Saginaw Valley Conference Second Team Defense in 2014-16 ... also earned three letters in track & field ... his father, Nate Simington, earned three letters while playing for the Chippewas in 1992 and '94-95.
DL Romello Tarver • 6-5 • 245 • Delray Beach, Fla./Oxbridge Academy, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Recorded 10 sacks and 45 tackles-for-loss during his career ... as an offensive lineman, posted 205 career pancake blocks ... selected to Sun Sentinel All-Palm Beach County First Team in 2016-17 and received honorable mention in 2015 ... carries a 3.4 grade point average ... helped lead Oxbridge Academy to Florida Class 3A state championship game and an 11-2 finish in 2017 ... played at Oxbridge for coach Brenan Kent.