Every program in search of a return to prominence needs a leader capable of harnessing such a large vision and seeing it through. For Western Michigan, that person is head coach P.J. Fleck, the nation’s youngest leader of an FBS program (35 years old) and the patron savior of the Broncos.
Following Fleck’s guidance is a batch of players and recruits who help Western Michigan walk Fleck’s talk. In doing so, the Broncos are marching toward the status of an elite program, and Allendale (Michigan) tight end Nate Umlor is excited to be a part of this high-aiming school.
“We are elite,” Umlor told Today’s U. “That’s the only thing that comes to my mind. I just think elite because we have not only exceptional athletes and great football players but we have elite people. Every one of [the commits] are just like how coach Fleck is. They are all like me. We all have the same goals. We all talk every single day. We are such a close group. I love when I see them all the time. I love everything about Western.”
Matching Umlor’s level of excitement for his future school is difficult to do, but the three-star recruit has found a like-minded Western Michigan commit in three-star lineman Kyle Sassack. The two prospects plan to room together once they arrive at Kalamazoo, and they have even bonded over the use of Snapchat.
“I’m going to room with Kyle Sassack, offensive tackle from Notre Dame Prep on the other side of the state,” Umlor said. “Me and him are really good friends and talk every single day, so we are going to room together. He is so hilarious. He sends me the funniest stuff [on Snapchat] every single day. It just cracks me up.”
Before reaching college, however, Umlor has business to take care of this season on the football field. The Allendale senior aims to lead the Falcons to new heights. In pursuit of that goal, Umlor has participated in a rigorous offseason training program to be in the best shape he can be coming into the 2016 season:
“My offseason has been the best offseason I’ve ever had. It’s been elite. My coach Douglas at Power Strength has helped me get stronger, bigger and faster in my 40 [yard dash]. From this season to last season I’ve gotten exceptionally better in all my weights. Squat has gone up 80-pounds, bench went up 30, 35. I’ve been working extremely hard to get faster, bigger, stronger. It’s been a blast getting better. Those guys over at Power Strength have done an elite job helping me get that way.
“Of course with Western meeting with them and going down whenever I can is a blast. Just building a relationship with them and the rest of the commits and stuff. Plus with basketball and track I’ve been doing that stuff, so I’m really staying busy.”
As a versatile prospect who plays not only on multiple sides of the ball but also in multiple varsity sports for Allendale, Umlor is a standout on the hardwood in addition to his football duties. Unlike some recruits who commit to a school early on and change the formula that helped them reach such levels of success, Umlor is committed to remaining a three-sport athlete during his senior campaign.
“I’ll absolutely do my basketball season this winter,” Umlor said. “I know that sometimes guys get pressured to enroll early and guys at Western, like [wide receiver] coach [Matt] Simon, want to come watch me play basketball. They know I love the sport, and it’s another way to compete, a different way to get better as an athlete. They know I love the sport, I talk about basketball with them all the time. I can’t miss out on my senior season of basketball because my team needs me, and I absolutely love the sport. So, it’s my last year and I might as well make it the best.”
Umlor says that he asked the coaches at Western Michgan if they would prefer he not participate in basketball this winter, but the Broncos’ staff encouraged the three-star commit to focus on basketball when that season comes. Before then, though, Umlor will give his all to compile an elite season for Allendale this fall.