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KALAMAZOO (WQLR) – “Can’t, won’t, don’t”.
These three words have officially been eliminated from the WMU football program with the introduction of PJ Fleck as their new head football coach. The exuberant 32-year old spoke of his plans to move the football team forward Tuesday at an introductory press conference held at the Seelye Center.
“I’m proud to be a Midwest man, and proud to be home.” Fleck, a native of Illinois, said. A 2003 graduate of Northern Illinois, PJ recorded the second most receptions in a season (77), and led the Huskies in receiving yards in 2001 with 732 and in 2003 with 1,028. He also is in the record books with the most career punt returns (87), and has the second most punt return yards in a career with 716. He was most recently the wide receivers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after stops at Ohio State, Northern Illinois and Rutgers. He played two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before being sidelined with a shoulder injury that started his coaching career.
“We are extremely happy to have Coach Fleck lead our football team and our student athletes into the future.” Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard said in a statement. “We wanted a coach that would bring limitless energy, passion, enthusiasm and opportunity to our football program on and off the field. We know that Coach Fleck is that person.”
PJ Fleck was hired to his alma mater in 2007 as their wide receivers coach, but also spent time as the recruiting coordinator before leaving for Rutgers in 2010. With recruiting experience in the MAC, Fleck made it clear where he would be drawing his talent.
“I recruited against Western Michigan for many years, and I know the challenges of building a successful team in this conference.”
Many of Fleck’s recruits make up the Northern Illinois team that is playing in the Orange Bowl this season, and he brings that same mentality to Kalamazoo.
“There’s no reason that Western Michigan can’t play in those games, sooner rather than later.” Fleck said to the applause of the crowd of media, fans, and alum on hand for his introduction.
Fleck and his wife have two children, a son CJ, and welcomed a daughter, Paisley on December 17th.