DETROIT, Mich. -- Just before the 2014 Mid-American Conference Media Day kicked off at Ford Field in Detroit on Wednesday, the league released its preseason predictions.
A 1-11 record in 2013 did not set the bar high for Western Michigan football in 2014.
The Broncos are picked to finish fifth in the MAC West - and they say they're more than OK with flying under the radar.
"It's a Ghost Bronco - you don't see us coming," sophomore wide receiver Corey Davis said Wednesday. "We're definitely in an underdog role and we like that. We've got to prove ourselves and we're ready."
Davis, the 2013 MAC Freshman of the Year, is one of the many underclassmen on the WMU roster for 2014 - one that has just ten seniors.
"I can actually say that this is Year One of us getting this thing going," senior defensive back Donald Celiscar said. "We're excited about the young players we have coming in. We're excited about the players we have now. We're just ready to roll and just win games and enjoy a great season."
"This is the Year of the Broncos."
Coach P.J. Fleck - entering his second season in Kalamazoo - saw many positives off the field last season that lets him know that his rebuilding project is coming along.
"You know, we went 1-11, but our attendance went up 5,000 per game - which is astonishing for a 1-11 football team," he said. He also pointed out that the program had just finished their facility renovations after only 11 months of work - funded by $4.5 million in donations, raised in just 36 days.
Fleck took some people aback with his signature confidence when he took over the Bronco football program in late 2012 - and says that confidence was misread by some as a promise of immediate success.
He says that wasn't the case - but he knows the ground work has now been laid - with the off-field achievements and the hype of the nation's 59th-ranked recruiting class, the best in conference history.
"That's what the confidence got you, got our program, got the community," he says. "What we said will happen in the future has to happen now."
"We're gonna start 14 or 15 true freshmen," Fleck adds. "We might be the youngest team in the country, but the sacrifice is worth it in the long run."
For the second straight year, Western Michigan will be tested immediately with a road game against a Big Ten team. The Broncos start the 2014 season on August 30 against Purdue.