Virginia Tech transfer finds home at Central Michigan

Central Michigan wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton poses for a portrait outside Celani Hall on the campus of Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant on January 9, 2018.

A year ago, attending Central Michigan was not in the playbook for Kalil Pimpleton.

As a matter of fact, he was enrolling early at Virginia Tech with plans of starring on the football field for the Hokies.

Less than 365 days later, Pimpleton can be found in Mount Pleasant, on the campus of Central Michigan University.

According to him, he is finally home.

“One thing I really like about CMU is the people,” Pimpleton said. “The first night I got on campus a few of my teammates and I clicked instantly. Ever since I’ve touched down here, I’ve loved it.”

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound wide receiver officially transferred to CMU on Dec. 16, but had his mind made up on the Chippewas a few days before his announcement.

“I was sitting in my room and I was watching film of the teams I was trying to go to,” Pimpleton said. “I was watching film of Central (Michigan) against Western Michigan. I liked how they finished the game. I prayed on it, watched the game, God opened the door, and I decided (on CMU).”

Back in high school, Pimpleton was a three-star prospect from Muskegon High School in Michigan. He only had two offers – Virginia Tech and Eastern Michigan.

Pimpleton’s permission to contact list included Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Indiana, Middle Tennessee, Oregon, Washington State and Northern Illinois.

The 2016 Mr. Football finalist got his first feel for Mount Pleasant on a Nov. 24 visit, in which CMU earned a 31-24 comeback victory over Northern Illinois at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Two of the biggest pieces in Pimpleton’s decision to become a Chippewa included wide receiver JaCorey Sullivan, who played football with Pimpleton in high school, and wide receivers coach Marcus Knight.

“JaCorey kept saying, ‘coach Knight will get you right’ and said coach (John) Bonamego is a cool guy,” Pimpleton said. “I have some old teammates who had coach Knight when he used to coach at Northern Michigan and they really loved him.”

For Pimpleton, the biggest difference between CMU and Virginia Tech is the atmosphere, and it is already noticeable to the wide receiver. Even though his time in Blacksburg was short, he still gained valuable experiences from being on the east coast.

“It’s not about the size of the school,” Pimpleton said. “I experienced a lot of different things being away from home. The atmosphere at (Virginia) Tech was good, but here is better. There’s a lot more to explore.”

As a member of the Hokies, the slot receiver played in five games during the 2017 season, recording just one carry for four yards. Pimpleton’s speed has always been a key capability and he plans to use it as a receiver and returner with the Chippewas.

“I’ve always used speed to my advantage,” Pimpleton said. “Being little, I have to use my speed. I have to use my quickness to get away from those big guys. I just want to win.”

According to the CMU athletic department, Pimpleton is not eligible to play in the 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules. 

Since coming to Mount Pleasant in early January, Pimpleton has had the chance to practice with CMU quarterback Tony Poljan, who is expected to start for the Chippewas in the 2018 season.

“We had a little workout together,” Pimpleton said. “I introduced myself and we got some one-on-one in. I’ve seen him throw and he’s seen me catch. We still have a lot to do and a lot of chemistry to build.

“From what I saw, this group of guys at CMU is going to win. I can see that.”

Even though Pimpleton is adjusting to a new setting and is not entirely sure of what the future will bring, he knows one thing – “This is home.”