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RECRUITING: Western Michigan busy prospecting on the football and basketball front

   | Scott Burnstein

RECRUITING: Western Michigan busy prospecting on the football and basketball front

The Western Michigan athletic program welcomed three new intriguing faces into the family this week, two for football and one for basketball.

On the gridiron side of things, juniors Chance Stewart (Sturgis) and Lucas Bezerra (Troy Athens) committed to the Broncos and first-year head coach P.J. Fleck, while on the hardwood senior Bishop Robinson (Kalamazoo Loy Norrix) accepted a preferred walk-on spot and will stay at home for his college hoops, with a chance to earn a scholarship in the future.

Stewart (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) is one of the state’s best quarterbacks and his commitment is a real coup for Fleck and his staff. He was originally committed to play in the Big 10 at Wisconsin, but when Badgers head coach Brett Beilema left for Arkansas a few months ago, he re-opened the courting process. Rated a four-star recruit, Stewart has thrown for over 1,350 yards in each of the last two seasons. Starting under center for Sturgis since he was a freshman, he has tossed 36 career touchdowns.

Bezerra (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) is a hard-nosed, sure-handed tight end. Last fall he caught close to 500 yards worth of balls and found his way into the end zone five times in nine games. Because last fall was his first full season on the Athens varsity and since he does not hail from a traditional football school, scouts view Bezerra as a “sleeper” with big potential.

Fleck, who comes to Kalamazoo from the NFL (wide receivers coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and is a disciple of former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano (currently the head coach with the Buccaneers), has now collected five commitments for his inaugural recruiting class with the Broncos – 4-8 last year –, four of which have come this month.

Tight end Jordan Van Dort (Zeeland West) and offensive lineman Chukes Okorafor (Southfield) both committed in early April.

In Van Dort and Bezerra, Stewart will have a pair of formidable targets alongside him when he reaches campus in 2014.

Although coming into the fold with the Western Michigan basketball program minus a scholarship, Robinson is not your average walk-on. In fact, he’s a hometown hero, the most prolific high school cager in Kalamazoo the past two seasons when it comes to the stat line. Selected Class A all-state as a junior and senior, the fearsome and fluid 6-foot-3 shooting guard/wing combined to average a glitzy double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds per night. This past winter, he scored 27 points and snagged 13 boards an outing, taking Loy Norrix to a district title.

Western Michigan was 22-13 on the basketball court in 2013 under head coach Steve Hawkins.