YPSILANTI, Mich. — All of Eastern Michigan University nation l is wondering about the five Eastern Michigan University football players that were suspended for Saturday’s game against the University of Toledo.
The Eagles were blindsided by the Rockets 42-7 and in front of the largest crows of the season at Rynearson Stadium, 25,700 fans all wonder together what in the world happen?
Eastern Michigan University football coach Ron English, said nothing about the five suspended players except that they broke team rules which can mean anything from not going to class to something more serious, the suspended players included four seniors and one sophomore.
Eagle linebacker Tim Fort, RB Dwayne Priest, WR Tyrone Burke, DB Latarrius Thomas and LB Steve Brown should understand the struggled that English and the program’s reputation has endured and these players know the ugliness of an 18-game losing streak.
Fort is the leading tackler on the team, Priest is a tailback that has started 19 games for the Eagles and lead the team with five touchdowns, Thomas is a defensive back transfer from the University of Louisville and he knows about the demands that English sets for his team to follow because he was under the coaching of English at Louisville.
Burke is a highly regarded receiver for the Eagles, he has started 11 times for the Eagles and has 47 catches for 605 yards and three touchdowns for his career as an Eagle.
Brown is a sophomore linebacker and is a player that English is looking to step up and provide leadership and provide stability on the defense. Brown has been in 14 games for the Eagles and getting a start in three games, he has made 21 tackles this season and has three sacks in his career at Eastern Michigan.
English says the Eagles could be without the suspended players for another game or two the long-term damage is the real concern here, however, since the trust English demands has been violated by these five suspended players, the uncertainty of these players status for the remaining part of the season is in some serious jeopardy.
“Quitting is subtle or getting distracted is subtle. Maybe a guy has one bad play and it affects another guy and he has a bad play. I think it is of an individual issue than a team issue,” English said after the game to the media.
The Eagles are struggling to right the ship and change the atmosphere inside the locker room but English is relying that any player that walk around the campus wearing and displaying a letterman jacket to provide leadership to show some pride for a program getting upon its feet and making strides to improve in all areas of the program.
When English arrived at Eastern Michigan University he has been seeking a long-term commitment from his players, assistant coaches, Eastern Michigan administration and the fans.
Last season there were some players and assistant coaches that did not believe in the commitment and as a result English quickly applied the broom and swept them out of the program.
After the defeat against the Rockets Saturday, English sat in the Eagles locker room and wonder out loud a couple of points, first he wonder if the Eagles have enough team depth and he also wondered about the schedule.
“When you get to this point of the year and you do not have a lot of depth you look at and you are competitive for stretches and then you are not,” English said. “You need to recruit and add depth and you need to get better on execution.”
The answer to that question is no - the Eagles do not have enough talented depth to step up and fill gaps but nobody should be able to fault the dedication of the players that believe in English’s system .
The Eagles are still a young team but the good thing about that is the more experience the players get the better they become and the only way to become better is to play a schedule that will provide growth.
Yes the schedule this year is tough with the road trip to Ohio State University and to the University of Virginia. Players come to a program because of an opportunity to play a good solid schedule a tough schedule is a good tool for teaching football.
“When you look at our season, we have been progressively improving. We have been competitive for most of the year and in most of the games,” English also said while sitting on an over stuff couch in the locker room. “But that game really got away from us. What is happening to us now is games get out of reach so fast.”
After the Media Day statement, about preferring not to recruit players from a single mom household produced a lot of flack and English had to spend a lot of time explaining, retracting and apologizing
The last thing Eastern Michigan and English need is anymore controversy, the foundation of the program gathered more support it was just a couple short weeks ago with the comeback victory against Ball State University at Muncie, Indiana.
The feeling of euphoria was shared with everybody connected to this program, there was a collective sigh of relief.
The fate of the five players is up in the air there has been no end of the suspension mention perhaps English and the five players involved can negotiate and work the differences out between them and get back to being a football coach that really likes to teach the game to players that want to be at Eastern Michigan University.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.