Minnesota’s transfer additions officially arrived on campus and enrolled in classes last week, with Western Michigan transfers Corey Crooms, Sean Tyler, and Ryan Selig among them.
To give Golden Gopher fans an idea of what to expect from this transfer trio, we turned to Drew Pearson of Hustle Belt, SB Nation’s Mid-American Conference blog, for the inside scoop.
Drew sums up Corey Crooms’ skillset in one word: “Speed.”
“He’s only 5’11” but he was the deep threat for the Bronco offense this season,” Drew says. “He was the only impact receiver for the Bronco quarterbacks to throw to and had twice as many catches as the next receiver. WMU didn’t have much success getting him the ball on easy, short completions but that’s not the fault of Crooms.”
Crooms was No. 3 in a crowded wide receiver room in 2021, trailing Bronco teammates Skyy Moore and Jaylen Hall in the pecking order. He finished the year with 44 receptions, 768 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. After Moore was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft and Hall entered the transfer portal, Crooms became the Broncos’ top target entering the 2022 season.
“Without him, the passing game wouldn’t have had any teeth,” Drew says.
The Western Michigan offense took a step back in 2022. But even as their passing yards declined from 3,297 to 1,988 and their completion percentage dropped from 63.% to 49.9%, Crooms saw an increase in his receptions and receiving yards from the previous year.
Drew sees Crooms faring well at Minnesota in his final season of eligibility.
“He probably won’t be WR1 anymore, but he can definitely be a weapon in the offense and pair well with [Chris] Autman-Bell,” he says. “He flashed for 161 yards on eight catches against Pitt in 2021, which tells me he can do it at a Power 5 level.”
“Sean Tyler is a home run hitter as a running back,” Drew says, citing his three touchdown runs of 50+ yards and a 76-yard touchdown on a screen pass this season. “Some of his rushes are frustrating when he’s overly patient in the backfield, but if there is space, he’s going for it.”
According to Drew, Western Michigan ran a run-first offense under previous head coach Tim Lester. Tyler served as RB1 the last two seasons, though he did he share carries with another running back for the purpose of load management. When the Broncos’ other running back was suspended for the final five games of last season, Tyler became the bell cow, rushing for 608 yards and four touchdowns as the every-down back.
Western Michigan’s offense was also one-dimensional for much of the season. The Broncos struggled to find an effective passer among their quarterbacks, putting more pressure on the ground game to carry the load as Tyler saw his usage increase dramatically.
Drew says Tyler “was effective despite opposing teams knowing he was going to get the ball. His yards per carry dropped, but that’s largely situational, in my opinion. He handled an increased load as the centerpiece of the offense down the stretch of 2022.”
Even with the departure of former Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, Drew believes Tyler is an ideal fit for the type of offense head coach P.J. Fleck runs.
“I watched that offense when it was at WMU and [Tyler] has the vision and speed to be a good running back, at least a good returner. I don’t expect him to be physically outmatched against Big Ten defenses, but he will need to adjust to them. Some players in the MAC could play on Big Ten defenses, but no one has a front seven like Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio State.”
Speaking of MAC players who could play on Big Ten defenses, linebacker Ryan Selig will be making the transition from Western Michigan to Minnesota next season.
Drew describes him as “a balanced linebacker” who did well as the Broncos’ will linebacker in their 4-3 base defense. According to Drew, the linebackers were the strength of the Western Michigan defense this season, and Selig was the biggest of the three starters and an active run stopper.
Originally recruited as a tight end, Selig transitioned to defense after the 2019 season. He didn’t see the field much in 2020 before becoming a starting linebacker in 2021. Selig tallied 136 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Western Michigan, finishing third on the team in tackles both years. Drew says he was more effective as a pass rusher in 2021 when the Broncos had a dominant defensive end to draw attention away from Selig. He only recorded 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries this past season.
Drew seems optimistic about his Selig’s chances of making an impact at Minnesota.
“I’m always concerned about the size jump between the MAC and the Big Ten, but his last listed size puts him right in line with the other linebackers on the Minnesota roster. For Selig, it’s going to come down to how quickly he can pick up the defensive system and execute it without hesitation.”