Preseason rankings "fuel to the fire" for WMU, CMU football programs

Broncos, Chippewas selected to finish middle of the road in MAC
Expectations high despite rankings for WMU, CMU football
Posted at 6:38 PM, Jul 20, 2021

DETROIT, Mich. — College football is just over one month away and expectations are high yet again within the Western Michigan and Central Michigan locker rooms.

The Broncos were picked to finish third in the Mid-American Conference West Division by the media while the Chippewas were just behind them in fourth.

Excitement surrounds MAC Media Day

Ball State and Toledo were selected to finish first and second, respectively.

Like usual, the players aren't paying attention to it.

"You need to put it all on the line between those four lines out there," said Muskegon alum and Central Michigan wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton, "put the ball in the endzone and keep the other team from getting in there; that's what we're going to do."

Pimpleton put it all in perspective at Tuesday's MAC Football media day, that the preseason rankings are exactly that and the games need to be played.

The Broncos feel the same way.

"Being picked third, that's alright, it's fuel to the fire," said senior offensive lineman, Mike Caliendo, "we'll see what happens when we step out onto the field."

Both teams have lofty goals this season, especially the Broncos after finishing a COVID-shortened six game season 4-2 overall, losing their final game in a heart-breaker to Ball State, 30-27.

The team wants to ensure that feeling doesn't happen again this season.

"This is my first time to Ford Field and first Media Day," said sophomore quarterback, Kaleb Eleby, "I was just looking around, I actually took a little wander around to get familiar with the place - hopefully we'll be back here soon."

And Tim Lester's group isn't shy about what they want to accomplish this season.

"A fourth MAC championship in school history, that's what we talk about all the time," Caliendo added, "we'll be right back here first weekend in December, that's our goal."

Outside of the Broncos and Chippewas, Grand Rapids Catholic Central alum Mike Brown made an appearance at MAC Media Day, representing Miami (Ohio) going into his senior season.

"It kind of reminds me of my senior year of high school," Brown smiled, "it's like you have one more year to show people what you can do and hopefully play in the National Football League. I wouldn't say it's any pressure but it's something I look forward to doing."

All teams around College Football gained valuable experience last season and didn't have to burn up a season of eligibility. Now, they're hoping that all pays off.

"I would say the experience and maturity that our guys have is what stands out," Pimpleton said, "they've grown so mature in the past few years since I've gotten here. Just seeing the grit and urgency these guys have, I can tell this team wants it."

And Lester is also hoping for his players to step up this fall in a full season.

"Nobody ran out of eligibility last year, some guys went to the league but nobody ran out of eligibility, it should be some really good college football this fall all over the country."

The Broncos will open the season at The Big House against Michigan while Central Michigan will travel to Missouri, both games on September 4.