Shakir Carr, Keegan Cossou discuss decision to ditch WMU for CMU in recruitment

Central Michigan offensive lineman Shakir Carr poses for a portrait after practice on Oct. 9 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Former Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck pushed Shakir Carr out of the door, and he gave Keegan Cossou an arrogant, stuck-up impression, they said.

In turn, both players decided to continue their football career at Western Michigan’s rival – Central Michigan University. 

Carr, a now-fifth-year senior, received an offer from former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit on May 8, 2012, as a three-star prospect from Clay High School in South Bend, Indiana. 

Seven months later, WMU announced the hiring of Fleck as the new head coach. He signed a five-year, $392,000 contract and immediately cut ties with most of the 2013 recruiting class – including Carr.

The offensive tackle was in his senior wrestling season when he committed to Western Michigan without any contact from Fleck. Carr made his pledge on Jan. 28, 2013 – nine days before National Signing Day. 

“The only thing I liked was that (WMU) was close to home,” Carr explained. “That’s it.”

Following his commitment, Carr didn’t hear from anyone on the coaching staff in Kalamazoo, not even offensive line coach A.J. Ricker, who ended up leaving for a similar position at Middle Tennessee State two days after National Signing Day.

“I guess if you didn’t contact him, you didn’t want to be there,” Carr said of Fleck. “I wasn’t pressed about contacting coaches, so I never talked to him.”

Carr decommitted just weeks after committing to the Broncos. He took a trip to Mount Pleasant, a 200-mile drive from South Bend, in late February 2013 to visit Central Michigan.

Carr just wanted a chance.

“It was scary, but CMU was the first to offer me,” Carr said. “They were by my side the whole time. (Western Michigan) just stopped calling.”

Dan Enos, CMU’s coach at the time, offered Carr a grayshirt during his February visit since it was after National Signing Day. As a grayshirt, Carr was not on scholarship, could not play and could not practice. He has to wait an extra semester to become a full-time student and part of the team.

Carr was officially announced as a late addition to the Chippewas on March 6, 2013. While most newcomers arrived at CMU on June 23, Carr waited until the second semester.

Defensive backs coach Kirby Cannon and offensive line coach Mike Cummings were influential in bringing Carr to Central Michigan. When current head coach John Bonamego took over for Enos, Carr said everything felt like family. 

Bonamego made Carr a priority upon taking over as head coach, while Fleck pushed him out the door at WMU. 

“When (Bonamego) got here, I was able to dance a little more at practice,” Carr said. “We had more fun. That was the biggest difference.” 

Fleck left Western Michigan for the head coaching job at the University of Minnesota on Jan. 6, 2017. He signed a five-year, $18 million contract. 

While Carr was ranked No. 1,568 in the nation for the 2013 class, Cossou’s journey from Greenville High School to CMU three years later in 2016 was a bit different.

Central Michigan tight end Keegan Cossou prepares to play Maine on Sept. 22 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Cossou earned his first offer from Central Michigan on April 11, 2015, and Western Michigan eventually jumped in on Oct. 20, 2015. The Broncos waited six months to extend a scholarship, which immediately put them behind Bonamego’s group.

Despite Fleck’s offer to Cossou, the tight end never wanted to go there due to an arrogant and cocky vibe received from the entire staff.

“I was never brought up with that throughout my childhood,” Cossou said of the way Fleck acted. “I didn’t want that.” 

Since he didn’t show interest in WMU, Fleck pulled Cossou’s offer. The three-star tight end didn’t care. He was CMU bound. 

Cossou made his commitment to CMU on April 16, 2016. On his first visit to Mount Pleasant, he fell in love with the people and the city – not too big, not too small.

The 6-foot-5, 244-pound tight end was ranked No. 946 in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports Composite. Cossou rejected offers from Buffalo, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Toledo and Western Michigan to join the Chippewas.

“For some of them, I was just a backup plan,” Cossou explained. “I was told by a lot of people to go where I felt I was most wanted. Turns out, Central Michigan wanted me the most.” 

In 2016, CMU’s future tight end stood on the sidelines as a senior in high school, intently watching Central Michigan play Western Michigan at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

Cossou did not see game action in CMU’s 35-28 comeback victory against WMU due to taking a redshirt in 2017, but he is ready to contribute this time around on Oct. 20 in Mount Pleasant. 

“It’s a big deal to the people in Mount Pleasant,” Cossou said. “(The game) drives you more as a player.”