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#44-Jerome Persell
Courtesy: WMU

Behind the Numbers: #41-50

Courtesy: Nathan Palcowski, WMUBroncos.com Staff Writer
Release: 07/02/2012
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Behind the Numbers - #41

The fifth edition of the Behind the Numbers series begins with #41. Running back Fred Stevens back in 1941 was the first Bronco to wear number 41.

Since then the Broncos have been succeeding with the number 41 with 197 tackles, three sacks and one interception. To begin the Behind the Numbers series, the best player to wear number 41 will become a common theme in this collection.

Derrick Copeland (1987-1991) stood tall as a middle linebacker directing the WMU defense during his career. Copeland recorded 58 tackles, three sacks and one interception.

Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Cleveland Smith will wear the number 41 in 2012.

Behind the Numbers - #42

Tied for the oldest jersey number in the 41-50 collection is #42. Once again back in 1941 running back Kenneth Stillwell was the first to wear number 42.

 Stillwell started success on the field and every player since then has been continuing that success. Number 42 has compiled 545 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six interceptions, 234 yards and three touchdowns. For the second time, the best player resides on the defensive side of the ball.

Steve Hawkins (1991-1993) had 201 tackles and four interceptions during his career as a Bronco. Hawkins was also First Team All-MAC in 1993. He is also apart of the WMU All-Century Team.

Suiting up the number 42 for the Broncos this year is sophomore linebacker Devon Brant. Brant last year had 43 tackles and 0.5 sack.

Behind the Numbers - #43

Out of the 37 players that wore #43, the player that get's deemed the best truly earned it, as there were so many good players. The first being running back Rexford Gaugh back in 1944.

There were many great players to wear number 43 every Saturday, and the statistics seem to back it up. Number 43 collected 661 tackles, 31.5 sacks, four interceptions, 828 yards and 13 touchdowns. For the third straight time, a player on the defensive side of the ball earns the best player.

Ameer Ismail (2005-2006) earned the right to be called the greatest number 43 and his defensive stats and accolades are impressive. Ismail amassed 183 tackles, 25 sacks and two interceptions. With his great play he racked up many awards such as MAC Defensive Player of the Year ('06), First Team All-MAC ('05-06) and Associated Press Second Team (2006).

He is also a familiar name in the WMU record book as well. He is top three in career tackle for losses (50.5), single season (25.5), and game (6.5 vs. Kent State, 2006). He is has the most single season sacks (17) and holds not only a WMU record but an NCAA record for most sacks in one game (6 vs. Ball State, 2006).

Filling the shoes of number 43 this season is junior transfer Jake Minister. Minister last year at L.A. Piere Junior College racked up 46 tackles, two interceptions and one sack.

Behind the Numbers - #44

One of only two retired numbers in WMU football history is #44. The last time a Bronco wore this number was back in 1978. The first player was quarterback James Benson back in 1944.

In its short 34 year history number 44 compiled 4,190 yards, 39 touchdowns, 71 tackles and four interceptions. The last player to wear this jersey is why number 44 is retired and one of the best players to take the field for WMU.

Jerome Persell (1975-1978) is one of the great players in program history. Persell during his career put together an impressive resume of 4,190 yards and 39 touchdowns. He has a laundry list of accolades which include have the second most rushing yards in a career (4,190) and being top three in career touchdowns (39). He is top three in rushing yards in a single season (1,505), yards in a single game (241 vs. Eastern Michigan, 1976) and season rushing touchdowns (19). He holds the record for most rushing attempts in a career (842) and is top three in single season rushing attempts (309).

Those statistics not only cemented Persell in the WMU record book, but earned him many awards as well. He was a three-time Offensive MAC Player of the Year ('76,77,78) and First Team All-MAC ('76,77,78). Persell was an Associated Press Third Team selection in 1976 and '77. He is also apart of the WMU All-Century team.

Behind the Numbers - #45

Halfway in the 41-50 collection stops at #45. The second youngest out of the jersey group, number 45 was first brought to WMU football by fullback Bob White back in 1960.

Though the first player to wear this number was an offensive player, over half of the 23 players to wear this number played on the defensive side of the ball. Defensivly number 45 had 271 tackles and 14 sacks. Offensivley it compiled 3,341 yards and 15 touchdowns. From defensive dominance to offensive juggernauts, the second consecutive best player is a running back.

Shaun Faulkner (1980-1983) ran north and south against defenses during his career at WMU. Faulkner had 3,341 yards and 15 touchdowns and was Second Team All-MAC in 1982. The following year he was First Team All-MAC. He holds the record for most rushing yards in a season (1,668), rushing attempts in a season (394) and single game rushing attempts (47 vs. Ball State, 1983). He's also top three in career rushing attempts (761).

Behind the Numbers - #46

Psalm 46 in the bible says that God shall give strength. For the WMU players that wore #46, there was much strength given to them on the football field. Running back Leonard Dovalovsky back in 1944 was the first Bronco to wear this jersey.

The biblical verse and the players that wore number 46 used all of their strength to compile impressive statistics during their time at WMU. Overall players racked up 9,463 yards, 295 tackles, 7.5 sacks and two interceptions. Breaking the mold of offensive/defensive is a special teams player breaking through the best player ranks.

Jim Klapthor (1983-1986) is argueably one of WMU's best punters. Klapthor had 8,786 punt yards. He holds the career record for punt attempts (225), single season punt attempts (77) and single game punt average (52.6, vs. Bowling Green, 1986). He was Second Team All-MAC in 1986.

Junior tight end Clark Mussman will be shouldering number 46 this season. Mussman last year had 13 receptions, 127 yards and two touchdowns.

Behind the Numbers - #47

An equal balance of offensive and defensive players wore #47. Running back Connie Pappas in 1957 was the first player to wear number 47.

Forty-seven players wore number 47 since 1944 but the statistics show that more defensive players have gained more statistical success. Number 47 had 457 tackles and three sacks altogether. The best player to wear number 47 was also the most recent.

Mitch Zajac (2008-2011) was the leader of the line backing corps for WMU during his playing days. Zajac had a total of 269 tackles, two sacks and one interception. He was Academic All-MAC in 2011. He is also one of  only four players to start 50 games in a career.

Freshman tight end Ben Arnold will be wearing number 47 in 2012.

Behind the Numbers - #48

A number that was completely dominated by 21defensive players and 13 linebackers, #48 was a defensive threat every year since 1944. However the first player to wear number 48 was running back Phillip Igoe.

Overall number 48 defensively collected 481 tackles, 18.5 sacks and two interceptions. With all of the defensive players to roam the football field as number 48, a linebacker is the best.

Les Garrett (1980-1981) was a smart defensive player for the Broncos during his playing career. Garrett had 163 tackles and one interception. In 1981, he was Second Team Academic All-America, Academic All-District and Academic All-MAC.

Sophomore defensive end Manny Diaz is crowned with number 48 this season. Last season Diaz recorded one tackle against Central Michigan and saw action on both sides of the ball as well as special teams.

Behind the Numbers - #49

Only 16 players have slipped on the #49 in the program's history. That's because number 49 is the other  retired jersey in the WMU football program. Running back Martin Stimac,. back in 1944, was the first player to wear number 49.

The best player to wear this number, was the only player that garnered any statistical success and ultimately was the reason number 49 was retired.

John Offerdahl (1982-1985) can be considered one of the greatest WMU players in the program's history. Offerdahl racked up 694 tackles, 17 forced fumbles, four sacks and six interceptions. He is apart of the WMU All-Century team.

His name is plastered all over the WMU record book with having the most tackles in a career (694) which is also a MAC record and tackles in a single season (192). He is top three in career forced fumbles (17), top five in single game tackles (24 vs. Ball State,1984), single season forced fumbles (5) and forced fumbles in a single game (3 vs. Marshall, 1984).

Offerdahl's accolades include MAC Defensive Player of the Year (1985), First Team All-MAC ('83,84,85), Associated Press Third Team (1984), Associated Press Second Team (1985) and NEA Second Team (1985).

He was selected by the Miami Dolphins with 52nd pick in the second round of the 1986 NFL Draft. He went on to play eight seasons in the NFL were he was a five-time pro bowler and First Team All-Pro.

Behind the Numbers - #50

To end jersey numbers 41-50 is the youngest jersey out of the bunch with #50. An offensive lineman cracks the Behind the Numbers series with Mike Sabol back in 1966 being the first player to wear number 50.

In just 43 short years number 50 has went on to acquire 556 tackles, 24 sacks and one interception. The best player to wear number 50 produces the seventh defensive player out of the numbers 41-50.

Mario Evans (1996-2000) turned the millennium as WMU's defensive leader at linebacker. Evans had 302 tackles and 11 sacks. His 302 tackles is top 15 in the WMU record book. He was Second Team All-MAC in 2000.
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