Talented Youth Make Impact

In a sport where red shirting young talent for their first year is the rule rather then the exception it is a rare treat to have true freshmen not only good enough to play right away, but good enough to make an impact on the team. Such is the case for Scooter McIntosh and Mark Bonds.

Mark Bonds, a freshman out of Indianapolis, was a highly recruited prospect last year gaining attention from schools such as Michigan and Purdue. Michigan and the other Big Ten schools eventually backed off due to concerns about his grades, but that was great news for Western Michigan.

Bonds landed at WMU because, "it was the right fit for me. I liked the coaches and we run a one-back offense that fits my style of play," according to Bonds.

Bonds' grades turned out to be just fine and the prospect is now a freshman at WMU and has already seen playing time this season. "Bonds could be a top 3 running back for us by the time the season concludes," Gary Darnell said at media day last month. And a top 3 running back Bonds already is sitting right behind Trovon Riley and Daniel Marks on the depth chart.

Bonds ran for 24 yards on 7 carries against Virginia Tech last Saturday as Marks backup due to Riley's departure with injury in the first half. "We decided to let him loose," said Darnell. "We took the red shirt off of him and put the green shirt on because we knew we wouldn't be able to hold him back."

"It was very exciting, a big old crowd, it was an adrenaline rush," said Bonds. "It's great because I always wanted to come into college and play my first year."

Scooter McIntosh took a slightly different route earning his playing time. Not as highly regarded out of high school and recruited primarily by mid-majors like Northern Illinois and Wyoming, McIntosh was not expected by outsiders to be much of an impact player early in his career.

Defensive Coordinator J.C. Harper, who recruited McIntosh, knew differently and was not one bit surprised when the freshman from McHenry HS in Illinois emerged as one of the best freshmen on the team the first week of training camp. "I liked the coaches here, especially coach Harper," said McIntosh about why he came to WMU.

At strong safety McIntosh quickly moved up the depth chart and earned playing time in the Broncos' opening game. The next week in practice it became clear that he was moving up even further in the depth charts when he not only cracked the 2-deep, he was listed as the starter heading into the game with Virginia Tech.

"It was a totally different atmosphere then high school and I was just trying to make sure I didn't mess up right away," said McIntosh.

McIntosh didn't mess up and in fact made his mark early in the game registering a tackle for a loss on the first play from scrimmage. "That let me know I could do it and they [Virginia Tech] weren't going to burn me every time," McIntosh said. "Getting that first tackle got me settled down a little bit."

Heading into the upcoming contest with Illinois both players are expected to continue seeing significant playing time. Bonds will enter the game expecting to, "run hard – very, very hard."

"I hope to build on what I did last weekend," said McIntosh. "It's not as big of an environment and it's my home state so I'll feel more comfortable there. I really can't wait because I have a lot of family and friends that are going [to the game]."

Bonds has yet to crack the 2-deep, but should see the field in relief of Riley and Marks. McIntosh is still listed as the expected starter at strong safety ahead of Oseloka Keys and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Even More True Freshmen Play For WMU:

TE Mike Onaga caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in his collegiate debut, while CB Blake Sims took part in 25 plays in relief of senior Scott Robinson. Matt Williams moved into a backup role at center ahead of Joel Pfaendtner and handled 10 snaps resting Robbie Krutilla.

"We had our best recruiting class ever this past year," said Darnell. "They're beginning to play this year and are showing how good they are, but that'll really pay dividends next year and in the years to come."

Broncos Illustrated Top Stories