The WMU Broncos’ new staff prioritized a P5 RB in the transfer portal; I think this player has immense potential in 2023
You’ll never go broke betting on players from Florida
– CFF Wise man, unknown
“You’ll never go broke betting on players from Florida” is a line VP readers will be familiar with. In this case, recent Western Michigan (WMU) transfer RB Keshawn King hails from an ascending football circuit in Apopka, FL, the same hometown of current NFL draft pick Jalen Carter and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.
If you’ve been playing CFF for the past few years, you know there’s a killing to be had from Power-Five (P5) transfers downgrading to the MAC conference. An overwhelming amount of the superstar producers that emerge in this conference are former P5 commits.
The latest transfer that’s caught my eye is Virginia Tech’s RB KeShawn King to WMU. The WMU Broncos are replacing their top two RBs from a season ago in La’Darius Jefferson (dismissed) and Sean Tyler (transferred), so there should be plenty of opportunity this fall.
As is usually the case with my profiles, we’ll start by first looking at the infrastructure in place at WMU.
Coaching & System
Former Louisville OC Lance Taylor takes over as the head coach of the Broncos for 2023. In 2022, Taylor’s leading RB carried the rock 142 times for 815 yards and four TDs. The TD numbers are low because starting QB Malik Cunningham scored 12 rushing TDs. Even when accounting for the abnormally low TD numbers, the Louisville backfield in 2022 can only be categorized as a committee. The Cardinals boasted several talented RBs, which is likely why so many RBs were involved.
What intrigues me about Taylor’s background is his time at ND as the running game coordinator (2018-2021). Sure, he wasn’t the main man calling the shots — or the plays — but he was involved in an offense that produced two prolific seasons for RB Kyren Williams. Williams ran the rock 211 and 204 times in 2020 and 2021, respectively, going over 1000 yards in each season.
His OC — Billy Cosh, was the associate head coach at the FCS program Richmond in 2022 and served as OC of the FCS program, the VMI Keydets. As the play caller at VMI, Cosh’s RB1 — Korey Bridey, ran 139 times for 493 yards and four TDs and caught 12 passes for 114 yards in nine games. That’s an average of 16.77 touches a game. Despite the volume in touches, Bridey was inefficient, averaging only 3.5 ypc, which limited his production.
In 2020, Bridey led the way for the Keydets with 91 carries, gaining 365 yards and four TDs in six games. He also caught 15 receptions for 68 yards and another score. That’s an average of 17.67 touches per game.
While the overall production at VMI wasn’t anything to write home about, I am encouraged by the volume. Ideally, I’d like to see 20+ touches per game for my RBs, and I think King could see that as a superior talent in the MAC on a team that needs to replace its top two RBs — and is lacking overall in playmakers.
RB KeShawn King – 5’11”, 180
King is entering his fifth year of college football. He played the previous four seasons at Virginia Tech, where his best season was the 2022 season; he ran for 443 yards on 74 attempts and scored three TDs in nine games. He was also used in the passing game, being targeted 24 times, of which he caught 20 passes for 137 yards and a TD.
He averaged 11.1 fantasy points per game (FPG) in 2022, only 3.2 FPG in 2021 (post-injury season), did not play in 2020, and 6.4 FPG in his freshman season.
I like that King was efficient with his carries at VTech (6.0 ypc). That’s generally a good sign that he will continue to perform well at a lower level. While he is on the slighter side for a bellcow, his size should be okay for the MAC competition level.
As mentioned earlier, the top two WMU runners from last season are now gone, leaving behind a production vacancy equivalent to 265 carries, 1262 rush yards, and 12 TDs, as well as 17 catches, 166 yards, and one TD. Of course, that was under a different staff, but it’s still a ‘plus’ for King coming in.
Also, as alluded to earlier, the head coach has a history of high pass-game usage for one of his RBs in Kyren Williams. My optimistic vision is for King to be used similarly; achieving the 20+ touch per game mark via carries and receptions.
- Not an elite track record from the staff in terms of RB production. There is Kyren Williams and no one else, essentially.
- King is transferring to a new team, and we don’t know his role in the offense; I am projecting that he’ll be RB1. I’d like to see some reports from local beat writers before making a full assessment of where I value King in re-drafts.
- WMU struggled to score last season, and it’s probably the reason for the staff turnover. Now, they lose their top playmakers from 2022 and are ushering in a new regime at head coach and OC. I’m not too averse to selecting players on bad teams, I did it last year with WMU’s WR Corey Crooms — who was one of the chosen few to stay on my roster for the entire season — so this concern is not necessarily a death knell for King.
- It’s important that King be used in the passing game to materialize my vision of what he could be as a CFF asset. Without that, his profile is much more pedestrian, and he is probably not a player I’d go out of my way to draft at any point.