Eastern Michigan WRs, TEs: These Seniors to Lead Offensive Receiving Game
The trio of Hassan Beydoun, Dylan Drummond, and Tanner Knue return to lead EMU's receiving game.
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Another week closer to the season, another position breakdown for you. We’re talking pass catchers and highlight makers today. Before we get to talking about wide receivers and tight ends though, make sure you’ve read the other positional previews, and follow the newsletter for additional updates.
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EMU 2022 Positional Previews: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
Getting talent at this receiver has certainly been a point of emphasis for this team. After years and years of Eastern Michigan running to the well of JUCO talent for leaders at this position, this team’s fortunate enough to find itself in a very rare situation this season, especially in this day in age. The wide receiver room is led by two former walk-ons, and a another player who has been starting for the Eagles since he was a true freshman, despite having only one offer out of high school.
The three leading receivers, Hassan Beydoun, Dylan Drummond, and Tanner Knue, were all 2018 high school graduates that have all been playing together since 2019. The 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons were all breakout years for each of them, and last year they were the leading receivers for the team going into the season.
Beydoun’s 2021 season was one for EMU to tell for the rest of time. His 97 catches on the year were the most in the Mid-American Conference, and fourth in Eastern’s history. Certainly, that combined with a 1,000-yard season was good enough for him to bring home his second year of All-MAC honors. Drummond did his part by leading the team with 6 receiving TD scored, but the team missed Knue for the first two months of the season after he suffered an injury during fall camp.
For the season, the three leading receivers for EMU combined for 193 catches for 2,031 yards and 11 TD. The rest of the team had 116 receptions for 1,386 yards, and 8 TD.
WR, Hassan Beydoun 2021: 97 catches, 1,015 yards, 4 TD
WR, Dylan Drummond 2021: 64 catches, 704 yards, 6 TD
WR, Tanner Knue 2021: 5 games, 32 catches, 342 yards, 1 TD
TE, Bryson Cannon 2021: 10 games, 20 catches, 272 yards, 3 TD
WR, Zach Westmoreland 2021: 17 catches, 293 yards, 1 TD
TE, Thomas Oduoya 2021: 13 catches, 130 yards, 2 TD
TE, Gunnar Oakes 2021: 11 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD
WR, Dylan Summers 2021: 10 catches, 97 yards
WR, Latrell Fordham 2021: 8 catches, 107 yards, 1 TD
WR, Dennis Smith 2021: 4 catches, 82 yards
WR, I’Shawn Stewart 2021: 4 catches, 35 yards
WR, Jacob Delso 2021: 1 catch, 5 yards
The team’s three starting receivers entering 2022 should, surprisingly, come to no surprise: it’ll be Dylan Drummond, Hassan Beydoun, and Tanner Knue — three college seniors whose combined offers out of high school added up to just one.
Drummond, from Cleveland (Cuyahoga Heights HS) only offer out of high school came from Eastern Michigan. The former low-three-star recruit has played in every game of his collegiate career, and even slid his way into the starting rotation as a true freshman.
Beydoun also graduated from Dearborn HS in 2018, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2019 when he tried out for the team and made the cut as a non-preferred walk-on. Beydoun (Dearborn; Dearborn HS) had zero scholarship offers out of high school. None. His first football scholarship came on Christmas Day 2019, the day before he had his first, big breakout game against Pitt in the Quick Lane Bowl: 9 catches, 113 yards. Last year, Beydoun was the MAC leader in receptions and EMU’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 2004.
Knue, from Mason, Ohio, joined EMU as a freshman in 2018 to follow QB Preston Hutchinson, a fellow Mason HS grad who signed with EMU the year before, as a preferred walk-on. When Hutchinson was the new starting QB in 2020, Knue had a breakout season with his old pal and played his way into having a scholarship by November of that year. Last year, all three receivers held down their spots as they led EMU to one of the top passing offenses in the league with talented guys still brewing in the system behind them.
“When I tried out for the team, I tried out when they (Drummond, Knue) came in, so we’ve all basically started playing together and it is fun playing with them because that’s somebody you’ve known for your whole life,” Beydoun told me at MAC Media Day in Cleveland on Tuesday. “When you’re out there beside them, you know what you’re going to get and you know you can trust them, whether it’s a screen or they’re just protecting you on a clear route. I’m telling you, our group, our offense, everything: the sky’s the limit and we’re going to do some big things.”
Behind the three starters on the preseason depth chart are two returning guys who transferred to EMU from Power 5 programs, and another that this program’s excited to see more of this year.
Backup to Knue at the X spot is Zach Westmoreland, a receiver that will probably see more attention in 2022. He played in 12 games last year and made three starts, and scored a touchdown to boot. Westmoreland is from Joplin, Mo. and spent a semester at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M before coming to EMU in 2020. His first college didn’t play football in 2020 with the pandemic.
Behind Drummond as an outside receiver is Dennis Smith (Gaffney, S.C.; Gaffney HS), who transferred to EMU from Duke last year and this will be his final year of eligibility. At slot, I’Shawn Stewart (Bolingbrook, Ill.; Bolingbrook HS) is behind Beydoun. Stewart started out at Oregon State, transferred into EMU last year, and has caught one pass with EMU so far for 16 yards. He was previously an early enrollee for Oregon State out of HS, but played in just two games. Dylan Summers (Chicago, Ill.; Brother Rice HS) transferred to EMU last year from Cornell and saw the field the most last year (12 games, 1 start) out of the group of guys in this paragraph, but is not on the team’s current two-deep. Summers appeared in one game for Cornell.
Dennis Smith 2020 stats (Duke): 7 games, 16 rec., 235 yards, 1 TD
EMU’s official two-deep for the preseason only shows so many names, so I grouped a handful of guys together to make up the projected WR3 tier. The only scholarship receiver not in this group is Kaiden Keefe, since he hasn’t seen the field yet.
J.B. Mitchell (Alabaster, Ala.; Thompson HS) got to play in six games as a true freshman last year, and started in the game at NIU. Isaac Smith joined EMU this year after he transferred from Wisconsin. The Memphis native (St. George’s HS) was a three-star recruit in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Darius Lassiter, from Candler, Ariz. (Free State HS), began his collegiate career in the JUCO ranks at Butler C.C., and caught 51 passes over 17 games there. Lassiter’s a big build at 6-3, 200 lbs. Hamze El-Zayat, from Dearborn like Beydoun (Fordson HS though), joins as a grad transfer after coming in from FCS-level Fordham. El-Zayat was First Team this-and-that by all the local newspapers his senior year of high school, but was just a two-star recruit who only had a handful of offers from FCS schools, and the Naval Academy.
Hamze El-Zayat career (Fordham): 30 games, 109 rec., 1,132 yards, 5 TD
Kaiden Keefe signed and joined EMU in 2020. EMU was the only school to offer Keefe, from Littleton, Co. (Valor Christian HS). Ali Abdul-Barr finished his high school career in Atlanta (Woodland-Stockbridge HS) in 2021 and, later, joined EMU’s team this spring. Nick Deveraux, from Troy (Brother Rice), originally signed with D2-level Davenport (Grand Rapids) in 2021 and has since moved over to EMU. Chris Gundy (Smithfield, Va.; Smithfield HS) joins EMU this year after he originally committed to play for Navy in the 2021 cycle.
Zach Walling (Toledo, Ohio; Whitmer HS) is a preferred walk-on add from the 2020 recruiting cycle. Quinn Fracassi (South Lyon; South Lyon HS) took up a PWO offer to join the team this year out of high school, as did Adam Rammouni (Dearborn; Dearborn HS), and Chase Smith (Columbia, S.C.; Ridge View HS).
Gunnar Oakes, even with the longtime starters in front of him at tight end, has played in 38 of the team’s 45 games since 2018. Oakes, from Swanton, Ohio (Swanton HS), signed with EMU in 2017 and redshirted his first year on campus. Andreas Paaske (Copenhagen, Denmark; Demark Gold Diggers) is an international recruit with a huge, 6-foot-7 frame (252 lbs.) that signed with the team in 2021, and joined the team for spring ball that year.
In my projected TE3 tier, I lumped the two returning tight ends for EMU that have at least seen the field so far: Aaron Jackson and Jere Getzinger. After that, it’s a crapshoot.
Aaron Jackson (Detroit; Cass Tech HS) is a QB turned TE from the 2018 signing class that’s niched himself onto the field for particular run plays or trick plays. Over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Jackson appeared in 13 games, rushed for 27 yards, received for 23, and got to throw just one pass (so far?). Jere Getzinger, from West Branch, Mich. (Ogemaw Heights HS) was a two-star recruit in the 2020 recruiting cycle, and played in all 12 games last season.
Max Reese (Chicago; Fenwick HS) was a big get for EMU in the 2022 recruiting cycle as a mid-three-star prospect that picked EMU over 10 others. He was a wide receiver in high school, but is penciled in to make plays from the tight end room at 6-2, 229 lbs. Cole Rusk (Rock Island, Ill.; Rock Island HS) signed with EMU in 2021 and did not play as a freshman.
Evan Furtney is a PWO that joined the team in 2020, from Milan (Milan HS). Jeremiah Drake took a preferred walk-on spot this year out of Wyoming, Mich. (Godwin Heights HS). As a senior in HS, Drake played both quarterback and tight end.
It’s no question that this is a team that loves to throw the ball around, and it wants to get everybody involved. The plays will come, but the most important thing EMU asks for out of its receivers has been consistency. Drummond’s been
I’m pretty confident that a non-starting receiver will blossom into somebody that’s truly exciting to watch, but who’s going to be the tight end that’s going to stand out this season?
Losing two three-year starters at tight end is going to do something to an offense. The young guys have to step up at this position, and EMU didn’t really shop too hard for transfers at this position this year. That must mean this coaching staff feels good about what it’s already recruited into the program, right?
Next week’s EMU 2022 Positional Previews: Offensive Line.
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