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13 TEAMS/13 DAYS: EASTERN MICHIGAN FOOTBALL PREVIEW

August 16, 2014
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



MAC PRESS RELEASE

Story courtesy of Eastern Michigan Sports Information

The 2014 season is the 123rd for the Eastern Michigan University football team and the 39th year that EMU has competed in the Mid-American Conference. Following a disappointing 2-10 finish in the 2013 campaign, there is a lot to be excited about when talking about the upcoming campaign at Eastern Michigan, including the addition of a new head coach in Chris Creighton, the installation of a new playing surface at Rynearson Stadium and the personnel of this year's squad.

Vice President and Director of Athletics Heather Lyke annouced the hiring of Coach Creighton to take over the reigns of the Eastern Michigan football program, Dec. 11. Creighton came to EMU from Drake University where he built the Bulldogs into a consistent power in the Pioneer Football League, sharing the conference crown during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. During his 17-year head coaching career, he has accumulated eight conference titles and an all-time record of 139-46 (.764 winning percentage). He departed Drake with the highest winning percentage in school history (.667) after also posting 63 wins as the head coach at Wabash College and 32 atOttawa University. In addition to his accolades on the sideline, he has brought a new attitude tothe program as well. Creighton has rallied the program to "close the gap" between its current status and the pursuit of its true potential. He has studied the school, its surroundings, recruiting base and the current student-athletes. The one common thread throughout has been an uncommon 'toughness' that permeates the program. With that toughness comes the desire to work hard everyday at "The Factory" inside Rynearson Stadium.

Inspired by this region of the state and the student-athlete's own backgrounds, the team has challenged itself to be "E Tough," committed to great effort, sacrifice and triumphing in the face of adversity. In this spirit, the team has nicknamed Rynearson Stadium "The Factory," a place where coaches and staff will go to work each day to help "E Tough" student-athletes become scholars, leaders, champions and impact men. "The Factory" will be highlighted by Division I Football's first gray FieldTurf playing surface for the fall season. The concept of the "EMU Gray" field was born during one of the squad's notoriously intense winter workouts. Ron McKeefery, Director of Sports Performance, challenged the team to an  outdoor practice on the snow covered Rynearson Stadium field rather than the warm confines of the indoor practice facility. True to its E Tough demeanor, the team accepted the challenge. Throughout each drill of the bitter cold practice, Creighton delivered the message that EMU Football has the will to compete against "anyone, anytime and anywhere… even on a parking lot covered with broken glass." Inspired by his team's toughness and commitment that day, Creighton's idea of an "EMU Gray" field was born and soon shared with administrators.

Prior to the 2014 campaign, the Eagles have shown that they are ready for the upcoming season. With its depth and experience, the team should prove to compete on the gridiron. The 2014 Eagles return 51 letterwinners from last season to go along with 17 starters. The offense will feature eight starters from last season, while the defense returns just five. Moreover, five members of the Eastern Michigan University football team have been selected as All-Mid-American Conference honorees prior to the start of the season by Athlon Sports, June 19. Two seniors, offensive lineman Lincoln Hansen (Omaha, Neb.-Millard North) and tight end Tyreese Russell (Chicago, Ill.-Walther Lutheran) were named to the first team, while running back Bronson Hill (Grand Rapids, Mich.-Catholic Central), offensive lineman Jake Hurcombe (Lincolnshire, Ill.-Stevenson) and defensive lineman Pat O'Connor (Chicago, Ill.-Saint Rita) were tabbed as third team members. In addition to the Athlotn Sports awards, Hansen, Hill and Russell each earned All-MAC Preseason accolades by Phil Steele. Hansen also earned a spot on the Lombardi Watch List, while Hill is a Doak Walker candidate and Russell was named to the John Mackey Award watch list. 

Ten "true" freshmen and nine redshirt freshmen found the field during the 2013 campaign for the Eagles. In addition to the returning members of the squad, Creighton had 22 student-athletes sign National Letter of Intents to join the Green and White this season, many of which are expected to make an immediate impact. Along with the 22 signees, Creighton added Rob Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich.-Orchard Lake St. Mary's) to the squad after he transferred from Louisiana State University. Bolden not only played at LSU but was a member of the Penn State University football squad during the 2010 and 2011 seasons where he had 17 starts at quarterback, throwing for a total of 2,045 yards and seven touchdowns. Bolden will fight for the QB spot with 2013 starter Brogan Roback (Maumee, Ohio-Toledo St. John's Jesuit) to see time under center in 2014.

Everyone can catch the Eagles kick off the 2014 season for the first game on the new "EMU Gray" FieldTurf inside Rynearson Stadium against Morgan State, Aug. 30. Single game and season tickets are now on sale online at EMUEagles.com, by calling 734.487.2282 or by visiting the EMU Ticket Office daily between 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Ticket prices start at just $12 for adults and $5 for youth 12-and-under.


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