As the summer of 2017 comes to a close that means fall is upon us. With fall comes many things: new classes, new jobs and most importantly for some -- a new college football season.
Eastern Michigan University’s football program will look to build on the outstanding season they had in 2016. In 2016, Eastern found themselves in only their second bowl game in university history. Despite losing to Old Dominion 24-20 in the Bahama Bowl, being able to attend the bowl game in it’s own right is a success. The Eagles will have to rely on strong play from returning starters if they hope to continue to build on their success from last season.
Brogan Roback will return this fall as the Eagles quarterback. After posting a solid junior campaign where he lead the Eagles to a 7-6 record and a bowl game appearance, Brogan will have a lot of work ahead of him if he looks to build on his last season. Luckily, Brogan will have help from halfback, Redshirt junior, Shaq Vann.
Shaq was selected as a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker award in 2016 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury during the first half of the season. However, Shaq has returned for the fall of 2017 ready to pick up where he left off. The Eagles return their leading receivers, which will make Brogan Roback’s job much easier this season.
Senior, Sergio Bailey II, is also looking to pick up where he left off last fall. After snagging 60 passes for over 800 yards and 7 touchdowns, Sergio has high expectations for 2017. He will need to demonstrate his ability to be the No. 1 pass catcher for Brogan. However, he will not be carrying this load alone.
Redshirt sophomore Dieuly Aristilde will be expected to contribute in a big way as well. In only 6 games last season, Dieuly put up the second most yards by any receiver on the Eagles roster. The six-foot-four-inch wide receiver is a deep ball threat and a sleeper to take over the role as the Eagle’s No. 1 receiver in the coming seasons. Offensively, the Eagles return many of their key weapons -- giving them a fighting chance in every game they play this fall.
While on the defensive side of the ball, Eastern returns a whole host of starters from the 2016 season. Leading tackler Kyle Rachwal will be back for his Redshirt junior season, starting again at the Will Linebacker position.
In general, line backing core remains in tack from 2016 to 2017. Eastern will need the returning starters to serve as beacons of leadership. In the secondary, the Eagles return their leader in interceptions Vince Calhoun who is only heading into his sophomore season. The Eagles secondary is the youngest part of the team, making it the biggest question mark heading into 2017.
Eastern’s success will hinge on whether or not they can stop teams on the defensive side of the ball. Impact players like Rachwal and Calhoun will be called upon to serve as cornerstones for this defense.
To start the season, Eastern takes on the Charlotte 49ers at home. Last season, the Eagles took care of the team ease, winning the game with a final score of 37-19. This year, the 49ers will come to Rynearson Stadium Friday, Sept. 1, for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
Look for strong performances from returning offensive standouts Roback and Vann as they lead the Eagles into the first official matchup of the 2017 Eastern Michigan Football season.