Eastern Michigan football coach Chris Creighton knew what he liked about Snider High School quarterback Isaac Stiebeling when he watched the young quarterback lead his Panther squad to an epic 64-61 win over New Palestine in the 2015 IHSAA Class 5A state football championship game.
Nearly two years later, the veteran coach still finds those traits admirable in Stiebeling, as the student-athlete enters his first season of competition for Creighton's Eagle program.
“What I fell in love with,” Creighton told The News-Sentinel recently, “and that has not changed at all, was his leadership, his character.”
Stiebeling has been a part of the Eastern Michigan program for 15 months, but tonight will be the first that he is wearing the green-and-white uniform as an actual eligible player after spending last season as a redshirt.
The Eagles open the 2017 season at home against Charlotte (6:30 p.m., ESPN3).
Stiebeling is the back-up to senior Brogan Roback, who has played in 34 games, including 23 starts. However, that doesn't mean that Stiebeling won't be prepared to play – and with good reason, according to Creighton.
“Isaac is our back-up quarterback,” Creighton explained, “and he is learning from a really good one. In my three seasons here, we have not gone through a season with one quarterback taking every snap. Isaac will be playing at some point this year. Even thought it will be his first snap, when he does take it, he'll be as ready as he can be as a redshirt freshman.”
Stiebeling has grown into a 6-foot-4, 210-pound athlete that Creighton said has done everything that the Eastern Michigan coaching staff has asked since he arrived in Ypsilanti last summer.
“It's gone exactly as we hoped and planned,” Creighton said of Stiebeling's development. “He's a winner. Our guys like and respect him. They will follow him and I trust him explicitly.”
Stiebeling has not surprised any of the Eagle coaches with his personality and character off of the field, but a player needs to be able to also make plays when given the opportunity, and Creighton said that Stiebeling can do that just fine.
“He played wide receiver early on in his career,” Creighton said, “so he's got some really good athleticism and he's not short by any means. He's also just continued to develop his arm and can be a very accurate passer. He has a lot of strengths, but I do think that it starts with his character.”
Notre Dame transfer finally finds a home
The circuitous journey of Mykelti Williams has, perhaps, found a stopping point in DeKalb, Ill.
The former Notre Dame defensive back joined the Northern Illinois football program this off-season and he is expected to contribute to the Huskies in their opener against Boston College tonight (8:30 p.m., CBSSN) in DeKalb.
“He got here this summer,” Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said. “He is an intelligent football player and that is where it started this summer. He really caught onto our schemes very quickly.”
Williams spent a season as a redshirt for Notre Dame before being kicked out of the Fighting Irish program in the spring of 2016.
He spent last fall playing at Iowa Western Community College, where he earned All-America and all-conference honors.
The Warren Central High School graduate signed with Syracuse University on National Signing Day in February, but never joined the Orangemen program before eventually joining Northern Illinois.
Carrey didn't hand anything to Williams despite his previous athletic profile, as he “started down on the depth chart.” However, that didn't last long and Williams should see considerable action this season.
“He has certainly worked his way up,” Carey said of his standing on the Huskies' depth chart, “through not only his ability, but his hard work.”
Williams was the Indianapolis Star Super Team Player of the Year in 2014 and Carey said his athleticism and agility has been a valuable asset to this point in training camp.
“I have high hopes for Mykelti,” Carey said, “that he can continue to do what he has done in practice and that he can do that in games.
“The thing about Mykelti is that he has such good (change of direction ability). He's got such good feet. You combine that with just really good football IQ, he's always in the right position. He does a lot of little things well.”
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