Kalil Pimpleton shows off playmaking ability, speed at spring practice

Central Michigan reciever Kalil Pimpleton spends times with children at the Kids Clinic on April 13 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Kalil Pimpleton walked around Kelly/Shorts Stadium on the morning of April 13 with a grin that seemed unbreakable.

He wore gray sweatpants and a hoodie with his No. 88 maroon jersey with gold trim pulled over the top. Backpack fastened up tightly to his back over his shoulders. Speaker clipped to the back playing music.

It looked like the redshirt sophomore had a swagger and confidence in his step of a player who had been in Mount Pleasant for all of his years of college football. 

Going into his freshman season in 2017, it was the exact opposite for the Muskegon native.

Pimpleton was a three-star recruit coming out of Muskegon High School. He was only offered by Eastern Michigan and Virginia Tech. He became a Hokie.

It was the first time Pimpleton had tried to play football away from home, much less 662 miles. He planned on being a starter come the fall of 2017 in Blacksburg.

Instead, he had just one carry for four yards in five games. Pimpleton decided to look into transferring. Of the eight schools, he was allowed to contact, four of them were Mid-American Conference institutions — Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, EMU and the Chippewas.

Not even a year after heading to Virginia Tech, Pimpleton left for the place he now calls home — CMU.

“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 (CMU) is better. There’s a lot more to explore.”

After being forced to sit out the 2018 season due to the NCAA transfer rules, Pimpleton is finally in the position where can go through spring and summer ball with all the intentions to play this upcoming fall. 

Central Michigan receiver Kalil Pimpleton walks off the field after open spring practice on April 13 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

In the open spring practice, Pimpleton put the pads on for the first time in front of Chippewa fans and media. 

It was clear right away that the wide receiver has a different gear in the speed department.

“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.”

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound wideout ran through drills and scrimmages with a noticeable difference in quickness and agility. He could make a button-hook route look effortless. He hid behind the line when in motion and before you know it would be blazing towards the sideline. The open turf was a clear advantage. 

CMU’s newest Swiss Army knife of speed, agility and pass catching ability was on full display.

It was beyond noticeable.

"He's an electric player but not only that, he's an unbelievable teammate,“ said head coach Jim McElwain. "He's a guy that invests in it and really does a great job. He's the first guy in all of the time.

"If you could have 110 of him, you'd have a great football team."

McElwain went on to praise Pimpleton even more, saying his size doesn’t matter. His speed makes up for any disadvantage in height. Early and often, McElwain plans on getting Pimpleton the ball, referring to his as a “get-it-to” player.

“He affects everyone around him in a positive way,” McElwain said. “It’s just a matter of getting it in his hands.”

No matter what offensive set of players were on the field, Pimpleton was getting the ball pushed his way plenty. He’s a clear playmaker in the Chippewas offense and should be in the fall. It’s the start of something new for the former 2015 and 2016 Muskegon Chronicle Player of the Year. Just like it was when he started playing for the Hokies.

Only this time, Pimpleton is a key asset to his offense. Now, he has the chance to show why he came to CMU. This is where he belongs.