Story and photo courtesy of WMU Athletics.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - On Tuesday afternoon the Western Michigan Division of Intercollegiate Athletics introduced P.J. Fleck to the media and WMU fans as the 15th coach in the 107 year history of its football program.
“We are extremely excited to have Coach Fleck lead our football program and our student-athletes into the future. After speaking with the vast number of administrators, coaches and players that have been associated with P.J. throughout his career and then having the opportunity to interact with him directly, it was evident he was the clear choice to be at the helm of the Broncos,” commented WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard.
“It was very important our new coach met the needs of our returning football student-athletes and after meeting with them it was clear P.J.’s pedigree as a player and coach at the highest levels of football made for what we feel will be a championship combination at WMU.
“We wanted a coach that would bring limitless energy, passion, enthusiasm and opportunity to our football program both on and off the field, and we know that Coach Fleck is that person. He stresses discipline and accountability in a positive and consistent manner and is someone that has been a winner at every level of his career,” concluded Beauregard.
The Sugar Grove, Ill., native began his elevation in the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at The Ohio State University in 2006. He followed up by returning to his alma mater (Northern Illinois) from 2007-09, serving as the wide receivers coach in 2007-08 and taking on the duties of recruiting coordinator in 2009. During his tenure at NIU, two receivers (Britt Davis and Matt Simon) signed free agent contracts to play professionally.
Fleck spent two seasons as the wide receivers coach at Rutgers in 2010-11. The Scarlet Knights receivers made great strides with Fleck’s guidance, most notably Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison, both of whom emerged as important weapons for the Rutgers offense. Sanu finished the 2011 season setting both a school and Big East Conference record with 115 receptions for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns, earning All-Big East honors and becoming one of the top-rated prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft. In 2010, Fleck helped Harrison to a team-leading 829 yards and nine touchdowns on 44 receptions.
Fleck followed Greg Schiano to Tampa Bay in 2012 as the Buccaneers receivers coach. Under his tutelage Vincent Jackson is enjoying a career-best season, ranking fifth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,226), ninth in TDs (8) and fifth in receiving yards per game (87.6).
“It’s great to be back in the MAC. I am truly honored and humbled to be the 15th head coach of the Western Michigan University football program,” commented Coach Fleck. “I would like to thank Kathy Beauregard, Dr. John Dunn and everyone involved in this process for believing in me, and my vision for WMU football.
“My staff and I will make it our mission to bring excitement, energy and a winning tradition back to the Broncos. We will recruit, coach and develop young men of character the Bronco way. I can’t wait to get started on this journey. Go Broncos!”
Fleck played from 1999-2003 at Northern Illinois, capping his collegiate career with the Huskies defeating Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State, rising to a No. 10 national ranking en route to a 10-2 mark. He ranks third in career receptions (179) and fourth in career receiving yards (2,162) in NIU history. Fleck has the second most receptions in a season (77) and led the Huskies win receiving yards in both 2001 (732) and 2003 (1,028). He owns the school record for punt returns (87) and ranks second in punt return yards (716) in a career.
Fleck earned First Team All-Mid-American Conference in 2003 along with being named Academic All-MAC and Second Team CoSIDA Academic All-America. Fleck showed his propensity for winning at the high school level (Maple Kaneland), winning state championships in football, basketball and track.
Fleck played for two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2004-05). After signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 2004, he spent most of that season on the practice squad before making an appearance versus New England late in the year. He was placed on the injured reserve roster in 2005. In 2006, he left the 49ers to begin his coaching career.
Fleck (32/DOB: 11-29-1980), and his wife Tracie, have a son, C.J., and welcomed a daughter, Paisley, on Dec. 17, 2012.