Character Comes First

When Western Michigan head football coach Bill Cubit announced his first recruiting class to the media and public this afternoon the talent level was hardly mentioned. Not that there is a lack of talent, but rather a focus on bringing in quality kids with good character, a passion for success on and off the field and intelligence.

Coach Cubit signed players like cornerback E.J. Biggers who was named Dade County Player of the Year, running back Kirk Elsworth who set MHSAA records for touchdowns (52) and points (379) and came up second in state history in rushing yards (2,867). Also signed were quarterback Tim Hiller who threw for 7,222 yards in his high school career including 30 touchdowns, and cornerback Chauncey Thompkins who won a state title in the 800-meters as a junior and clocked a 4.4 40-yard.

Of course the talent matters to Cubit but "when they come in here we check out how they speak to a waitress, how they check in, how they conduct themselves," Cubit said. "These guys [the newly signed class] we said yes, some we turned down."

The focus was so strong on character that when Tim Lester was hired as quarterbacks coach instead of hitting the road recruiting he hit the phones… to coaches. "I spent my first 48 hours here on the job calling coaches," said the record holding former WMU quarterback. "We proceeded everything by getting to know [the players] a little bit first."

In fact when players came in for official visits the coaching staff would keep close tabs on how the recruits behaved out in public. The coaches would meet on Saturday before taking the recruits out to dinner to talk about the players. "Some players we decided we didn't want to take a chance on because there is still a lot of players out there," said Cubit.

Community Effort:

Bill Cubit was very quick to thank not only his staff of assistants but also the entire university community for the quality of the recruiting class he was able to announce today.

That community included college deans and faculty members that met with each groups of recruits on their official visits to talk to them about the academic programs that are offered at WMU at what was called a ‘faculty breakfast.' "We got one, he was looking at business, and he heard the dean of engineering gave such a great speech that he went over to him and now he wants to be in the engineering school," said Cubit.

The other important area in the university community is the current players. "Our players are our best recruiters," said Cubit. Many of those players like Joe Chapple hosted recruits as much as three consecutive weeks. "They [the recruits] spend a lot more time with our player then they do with us [the coaching staff]. They never talked one time about 1-10 and I think that is a real credit to our student athletes who believe in what we're doing."

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