The message was simple yet compelling. Come 2014, Leo Ekwoge had the chance to be a part of something special at Western Michigan, “a new era of football” as first-year Coach P.J. Fleck called it in his conversations with the rising senior Good Counsel running back.
Granted, Ekwoge heard similar pitches from the handful of schools pursuing him. But as he found out last week during his first visit to the Western Michigan campus in Kalamazoo, none of those other programs had as much compelling evidence to back this claim.
After taking in a tour that highlighted the ongoing renovations to the football stadium (including a Jumbotron), the new indoor facility under construction and the sleek, new jerseys unveiled last Thursday, Ekwoge was more than sold. On Friday, he officially committed to Western Michigan during a one-on-one meeting with Fleck.
“Coach Fleck is a wonderful guy that knows what he’s doing and knows where he wants the program to go,” Ekwoge said. “He said our class is going to put Western Michigan on the map and that was a big motivator to know I can come in and make a difference in the program.”
Ekwoge was one of seven seniors to commit to Western Michigan last week, pushing the school’s total to 27 players in a 2014 recruiting class that some are ranking as among the top 25 in the country.
Known for his speed and physical style, Ekwoge will bring the same playmaking ability that helped him rush for 498 yards and 13 touchdowns as Good Counsel’s backup tailback last season. As a feature back for the Falcons this season along with Chris Dawson, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder expects to use his skills in the backfield and slot receiver positions in the team’s quest for a fifth straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title.
Ekwoge’s diverse skillset helped draw offers from Old Dominion, Miami of Ohio, Ohio and Toledo as well as strong interest from Temple and Coastal Carolina. While ODU’s proximity to home was intriguing, the potential to evolve as a player at a growing Football Bowl Subdivision school ultimately drew him to Western Michigan.
“When they offered earlier this year, I did my research on the program and realized it was the place for me,” Ekwoge said. “Once I got here and saw how beautiful the campus was and how nice everyone was, I knew I was making the right decision. All the new facilities, and then the jerseys just killed it. It was perfect…more than perfect, really.”