When the football team won the Little Caesars Bowl on Dec. 26, it did so without four key players.
But the team will get a lift next season when all four return to the field.
Two of those players are senior lineman Jake Olson and senior linebacker Alex Smith, who were both mainstays in the starting lineup before missing most of the season due to injury. They will receive medical redshirts from the NCAA. With the departure of many valuable seniors from this year’s team that went 7-6, the return of two of those seniors will be crucial.
“I think it’s a nice bonus to be able to get guys like Jake and Alex back,” said head coach Dan Enos. “It’s really going to help us, because they have both played a lot of football, they’ve both proven to be very good players, and, It’s going to be a big challenge for this senior class to lead this football team into next season.”
Olson was a member of a rock-solid offensive line that helped the Chippewas offense average 6.2 yards per play, second best in the Mid-American Conference, producing nearly 400 yards of offense per game. CMU allowed just 18 sacks in 13 games in 2012, which ranks in the top 20 nationally.
Smith recorded four tackles and one sack before being injured five games into the 2012 season.
The Chippewas were also without two of their top three wide receivers in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Sophomore wide receivers Titus Davis and Courtney Williams were both suspended for the game for a violation of team rules.
Davis caught 43 passes for 863 yards and also had a team-high eight receiving touchdowns in 2012. Williams caught 24 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Enos said he expects both to return to the team next season.
“I expect Titus Davis to be one of the guys who takes on more of a vocal role next season to lead this football team,” Enos said.