When Jahleel Addae was ranked by ESPN coming out of high school, analysts said he was “a back, wide receiver and return specialist, but is vastly undersized and must be used as a change-of-pace offensively.”
A lot has changed for Addae since being ranked 605th in his region. He changed his position to safety, had a break out season in 2010 as a redshirt sophomore, and is now fighting for a spot on the San Diego Chargers roster.
Addae is just one example of numerous Chippewas who started as unknowns and created names for themselves. And, with a new season beginning, new dark horse candidates will have to do the same.
Senior wide receiver Defarrel Davis was rated four stars by scout.com when he came out of high school in 2010. He played at Nassau Community College in New York before coming to Central Michigan in 2012.
The Melvindale, Mich., native has had a year to digest the CMU playbook as a receiver after averaging a team high 24.3 yards on kickoff returns last year.
Head coach Dan Enos has been impressed with Davis this summer.
“Davis has really emerged; he was a junior college guy who was signed last year,” Enos said. “He didn’t play much, but he has been in our program now for a year. In our structured program, he had a very good spring and is having a great summer. He can fly.”
Another receiver expected to take the next step is sophomore Andrew Flory.
Flory burst onto the scene against Eastern Michigan late last season after fellow wide receiver Titus Davis went down. Flory caught nine passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns that game and continued to be a scoring threat for the rest of the year.
Senior defensive back Avery Cunningham faces Flory in practice every day and has been impressed with what he has seen.
“The guy just makes big catch after big catch,” Cunningham said. “When Titus Davis was down for us last year, he stepped up for us big time. “
On the defensive side of the ball, Cunningham works with defensive lineman Blake Serpa.
Serpa finished the 2012 season strong, starting the last eight games of the year and recording his first career sack in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit in December.
The redshirt sophomore from Illinois has made the defensive line stronger this year, according to Cunningham.
“I think since he has been here he has made a lot of improvements,” Cunningham said. “He is tough, he will be able to rush the passer, and has made improvements to himself as well as improving the whole defensive line.”