Basketball

Despite coaching change, St. Johns linebacker stays committed to WMU

St. Johns' Tanner Motz remains committed to Western Michigan despite the recent departure of coach P.J. Fleck to Minnesota.

St. Johns’ Tanner Motz remains committed to Western Michigan despite the recent departure of coach P.J. Fleck to Minnesota.

Tanner Motz realized there was a chance coach P.J. Fleck would be leaving the Western Michigan football program for a bigger job.

But the St. Johns senior linebacker and Bronco pledge thought Fleck was sticking around for at least one more season after he wasn’t hired for a few different coaching vacancies last month.

Then last week happened.

Fleck’s sudden departure on Friday for Minnesota, which had fired its head coach earlier in the week, was an unexpected curve ball. And that’s created a few anxious moments for Motz, who remains committed to Western with a few weeks to go before signing day on Feb. 2.

“Everything seemed to be going right a week ago and then coach Fleck left,” Motz said.  “My mind has been just kind of racing, but I’ve kind of settled down about the whole thing. I’m still excited to be a Western commit.”

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Western has lost several recruits in the wake of Fleck’s departure, including some that have decided to join him in Minnesota. But it was about more than just the coach for Motz when he verbally committed to the Broncos last March. And that’s part of why he still plans to attend the school.

“I really liked the program and the school – that was the main thing I loved,” Motz said. “Coach Fleck was just a bonus on top of everything.”

Motz, who was also being recruited by Miami (Ohio), Central Michigan, Toledo and Buffalo, before pledging to Fleck and the Broncos, is anxious to see who will be the next leader at WMU.

“I’d like it to be an assistant coach at Western that gets the job, but I’m not too worried about it,” Motz said.

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Instead, Motz said he and the other recruits that remain committed are looking forward to how they can help the school build on a record 13-1 season that included a Mid-American Conference title and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl.

“It was very exciting to follow the team and just know that’s going to be your future school,” Motz said.

“I’ve talked to Robert Spillane, a linebacker at Western right now. He said coach Fleck always said elite teams are led by players. The players are still there and they know how to uphold the culture and keep that program moving in the right direction. I’m excited for everything.”

Contact Brian Calloway at bcalloway@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.

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