The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference held its Football Media Day at the Doubletree Hotel in Detroit on Aug. 5.
Wayne State’s football team was represented by head coach Paul Winters, senior running back James Hill and senior safety Kyle Toth.
Winters said one of the highlights of the event was to see the players talk to different media outlets, gain exposure and see players from other teams in the league.
“I thought having Kyle and James here and giving them the opportunity to speak to different reporters and present themselves in the public eye I think was a big positive,” Winters said. “There’s a lot of talent in this league and I think without days like this you don’t get to experience a chance to experience that.”
GLIAC Commissioner Kris Dunbar said reviving a media day event for football was one of her initial goals when she took over the position in 2016.
The event was highlighted by the release of the Preseason Coaches Poll. WSU received 30 total points, placing them in a fifth-place tie with Davenport University, while last year’s conference champion and national runner-up Ferris State University, was selected as the favorite to win the conference again. Winters said the team’s ranking despite the team’s 2-9 record last season shows that their peers respect the talent level of the team.
“All this shows is that people have a little more respect for us than to think that we’re a bad football team,” Winters said.
Last season WSU won just one conference game (1-7 GLIAC) and dropped three of its final four games. Winters said he believes the team can take a lesson away from last year’s struggles.
“I think they can learn that if we stick together and put the team before (the individual), that we’re always gonna have a chance,” Winters said.
Hill, who scored 10 touchdowns last season and was named the team’s Offensive MVP, said receiving the honor crossed off an item on his bucket list heading into last season. “That was actually my goal going into camp last year (which) was to bring home that hardware,” Hill said. “It meant not only the world to me, but to my family to finally see me on the field playing.”
Toth, who was named team captain last season and has been a starter the previous two seasons, said the secondary has shown progress throughout the offseason and he’s excited to see it carry over to the field. “We’ve had guys (like) Myron (Riley), Samari (Dean) and Greg (McDade) who have all been there almost every day this summer, so we have a very good core group of guys and then we also have competition coming from freshmen (and) new transfers,” Toth said. “No one necessarily has their spots set in place, so I think that’s good to have competition to drive you during camp and then during the season.”
The football team will begin fall camp later this week and open the 2019 season at Tom Adams Field versus nationally ranked Slippery Rock University on Sept. 5.
Matt Williams is the sports editor at The South End. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover photo by Guneet Ghotra.