Behind the Numbers: #31-40
Behind the Numbers - #31
The fourth edition of the Behind the Numbers series starts with #31. Out of the 20 players that have worn number 31, exactly half have been defensive players. Yet the first player to wear this number was running back Vincent Strigas back in 1941.
Though half were offensive players to wear number 31, the defensive side of the ball is where this number stakes it claim. Over the years number 31 has racked up 468 tackles and four interceptions. To go along with the defensive theme of number 31, defense is where the best player resides.
Arthell Woods (1986-1990) had 119 tackles, eight pass break-ups and one interception during his career at WMU. Woods, who was a free safety, was Academic All-District in 1987.
Freshman cornerback Leo Alba will wear number 31 this season for the Broncos. Alba, during one year of football due to injury, registered three interceptions.
Behind the Numbers - #32
Out of the jersey numbers 1-40 up to this point, #32 has had the least amount of players to put on the jersey every Saturday. Only 13 players have worn number 32 dating back to 1941 and running back Art Macioszczyk.
While so few have worn number 32, the statistics show a different side of the story. Offensively number 32 has compiled 4,146 yards and 33 touchdowns. Defensively number 32 had amassed 324 tackles, 12 interceptions and six sacks. The best player to wear number 32 is also known as "The Rocket Ramjet."
Roger Lawson (1968-1971) was one of the best running backs in the nation during his time at WMU. Lawson rushed for 2,018 yards and 19 touchdowns along with holding the nation's best yards per carry average (7.2) during his final year. He is top ten in career rushing yards (2,018), and single season rushing yards (1,205).
Lawson was First Team All-MAC ('70) and is apart of the WMU All-Century Team. He was drafted in the 15th round by the Chicago Bears in the 1972 NFL Draft. In his three years in the NFL he rushed for 176 yards and one touchdown.
Freshman cornerback Justin Motley is flashing the number 32 for the Broncos this year. Motley during his high school career had 41 tackles, 14 pass break ups and three touchdowns.
Behind the Numbers - #33
There may be a way to catch 22, but it's not certain that you would be able to catch #33. Number 33 has been terrorizing defenses with 25 of the 34 players being running backs.
Since 1944, running back James Marks and number 33 have been tearing up the gridiron. Through the years it has racked up 6,300 yards, 63 touchdowns, 396 tackles, 11 interceptions and three sacks. It's no question that a running back is the best to wear number 33.
Robert Sanford (1997-2000) is one of, if not the best running back to play at WMU. Sanford during his career rushed for 4,219 yards and 43 touchdowns. He is a common name in the WMU record book for having the most career rushing yards (4,219) and is top five in both single season rushing yards (1,571), career rushing attempts (838) and single season rushing attempts (293). He has the most touchdowns in a career (43) and is top three in touchdowns in a season (18).
His on field performance led him to many awards such as MAC Freshman of the Year ('97), MAC Offensive Player of the Year ('00), Vern Smith MAC MVP ('00), Second Team All-MAC ('97, 98, 99) and First Team All-MAC ('00). He is also apart of the WMU All-Century Team. Sanford had a brief stint in the Canadian Football League in 2003 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Shouldering the expectations of number 33 this year is sophomore safety Justin Currie. Currie had 24 tackles and one interception last season.
Behind the Numbers - #34
"Sweetness" was the nickname of Walter Peyton, who wore #34 in the NFL. For WMU, number 34 has been deemed to players that have made "Sweetness" like plays since 1960.
Running back John Gertz was the first to wear number 34 and since then the jersey has had 2,228 yards, 39 touchdowns, 261 tackles and eight interceptions. For the third straight time, a player that is etched in the WMU record book and a running back is the best player to wear number 34.
Robert Davis (1987-1988) in his career amassed 1,563 yards and 16 touchdowns. Davis is top 15 in single season rushing yards (1,054) at WMU.
Handling number 34 this year for the Broncos is sophomore safety Donald Celiscar. Last year Celiscar had 45 tackles and one interception.
Behind the Numbers - #35
Halfway into the 31-40 series is #35. Fullback Wayne Pease back in 1944 was the first player to wear number 35 and the strong tradition of excellence still remains.
In the 68 years of number 35, it has compiled 1,566 yards, eight touchdowns, 670 tackles, 15 interceptions and 17.5 sacks. Though mainly dominated by offensive players wearing the number 35, a defensive player is deemed the best.
Austin Pritchard (2005-2009) was an offense's worst nightmare at linebacker during his time at WMU. Pritchard had 280 tackles, nine sacks and nine interceptions. He also provided support on the offensive side of the ball with three catches for 19 yards and two touchdowns.
He was First Team All-MAC ('08) and was Second Team All-MAC and Second Team Phil Steele's All-MAC the following year.
Number 35 is also home to a linebacker this year for the Broncos with red shirt freshman Nicholas Dance. Dance had 208 tackles, 18 sacks and five interceptions during his high school career at Pearl-Cohn High School, Tenn.
Behind the Numbers - #36
In 1941, the Broncos had a perfect 5-0 season beating their opponents by an average of 18 points. Back in 1941 fullback Jack Olsen was the first Bronco to wear #36. Ever since then the winning ways of number 36 have stayed consistent.
With 71 years of on-field success, number 36 has racked up 246 yards, three touchdowns, 454 tackles, 24.5 sacks and five interceptions. For the second time in a row, a linebacker is leading the charge as the best player.
Jon Pryor (1993-1996) led the WMU defense onto the field every Saturday. Pryor amassed 106 tackles, eight sacks and three interceptions during his career.
An established senior is wearing number 36 this season with defensive end Deauntay Legrier. Legrier has 100 tackles and 5.5 sacks during his career.
Behind the Numbers - #37
In 1957 fullback Dick Cooke began wearing number 37 on the field. Since that time, men have surpassed success.
In just 55 years, number 37 has been dominant compiling 308 tackles, 17 interceptions, 17.5 sacks, one touchdowns and 8,405 punt yards. For the third straight time, the best player to wear each respective jersey has been on the defensive side of the ball.
Demetrius Jones (1979-1983) manipulated quarterbacks during his time in the defensive back field. Jones had 107 tackles, 13 interceptions and 33 pass break-ups. His 13 interceptions is top 10 in career interceptions. While his 33 pass break-ups ranks him third on the career pass break up list.
Redshirt freshman Andrew Buskirk hopes to translate Jones's success in the defensive backfield for the Broncos this season. Buskirk was First Team All-conference and Second Team All-state at Paw Paw High School, Mich.
Behind the Numbers - #38
Walls are put in front of our lives to see just how bad we truly want something. For fullback Ben Wall, the opportunity to knock down the barrier of #38 was a feat he accomplished back in 1944.
Since that wall was knocked down the players that have worn number 38 have been laying a successful foundation. Number 38 has compiled 582 tackles, seven interceptions, 3,920 yards and 39 touchdowns. The streak ends, as the defensive side of the ball can take a break with a running back getting the honor of best player.
Phillip Reed (1999-2003) was running through walls of defenders on his way to the WMU record book. Reed collected 2,384 yards and 21 touchdowns during his illustrious career. Reed is top 10 in career rushing yards (2,384) and top 10 in single season rushing yards (1,053).
Behind the Numbers - #39
Nearing the end of the 31-40 jersey's is #39. During the 1944 season, Arthur Gillespie was the first Bronco player to wear number 39 and ever since then it's been riding the smooth sailing success wave.
The smooth sailing has been compiling much statistical success with 201 tackles, one interception, 1,943 all-purpose yards, 13,716 punt yards, 15 touchdowns and 38 touchbacks. Switching the gears of the best player is an aspect player sometimes overshadowed in the world of football.
Jim Laney (2005-2007) kicked his way into the WMU record book with much statistical success during his career at WMU. Laney had 7,358 yards and 22 touchbacks. He is top 10 in career punts (184) and top five in punting average for a single-game (50.7 vs. Virginia, 2007). He has the best career punt average (41.0) and season average (43.9) in WMU history.
Behind the Numbers - #40
Rounding out the fourth edition of the Behind the Numbers series in #40. Though this number age wise is getting over the hill, players who have worn this number have not only conquered that analogy but beat it into the ground.
Fullback Paul Kelley was the first to wear number 40 back in 1942 and since then 33 players have gathered 834 yards, six touchdowns, 606 tackles, 15 sacks and six interceptions. Staying with the trend, the fifth defensive player has been deemed the best player for their jersey number.
Jason Feldpausch (2001-2003) was a smart yet hard-hitting cornerback that impressed during his WMU career. Feldpausch recorded 188 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions along with being Academic All-MAC in 2002-03.
Junior linebacker Kyle Lark will be wearing the number 40 this season for the Broncos. Lark had 10 tackles last season.