ST. JOHNS – Tanner Motz’s official visit to Western Michigan in early January came with surprising news.
There had been questions surrounding who would be the successor to newly-appointed Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, and about an hour after Motz read an article that cited Tim Lester as a potential replacement, the school made it official.
And after meeting with Lester during that weekend, Motz was reassured that he still had his future home picked out. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound linebacker signed his national letter of intent to continue his playing career with Western Michigan on Wednesday.
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“We met him that Friday night,” Motz said. “He talked to the whole team on Friday, and I met with him, individually, on Sunday.
“He talked about what he wants to keep from coach Fleck’s culture, what he wants to build on, and he wants to keep it going in the right direction.”
Motz recorded close to 60 tackles during his senior season. The all-area linebacker went through most of the year playing with a herniated disk in his back, but didn’t miss a game.
He said the injury has had time to heal since the season ended, and he’s ready to get on campus and contribute in any way possible.
“He played through a lot,” Redwings football coach Dave Mariage said. “To me, it said something about his grit and his toughness, and, as much as anything, his commitment to the team. Nowadays, you see guys won’t even play in a bowl game because they’re worried about the next level. He could have done that, but he didn’t. This team meant a lot to him.
“I’m excited to see him play again without being hindered by an injury. It’s really been two years in a row, and he’s been full-speed and still had outstanding seasons.”
Motz said the coaches expect him to play the ‘Mike’ linebacker role as he enters the program, however, he said they also mentioned a possible transition to defensive end.
“I’d like to stay at Mike, but if I can play at defensive end I’m willing to make the make the switch,” he said. “I’m just ready to start something new, get on campus and get to work.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.
St. Johns student-athletes who signed Wednesday
Hayden Dyer (Saginaw Valley State University, football); Alyssa Elsea (Otterbein University, volleyball); Ross Feldpausch (Hillsdale College, football); Abby Schuelke (Huntingdon College, soccer); Brecken Simon (Western Michigan University, track); Chelsie Smith (Olivet College, soccer); Kylie Steingreaber (Northwood University, soccer); Nolan Wirth (Northwood University, track/cross country)