As the final horn sounded signaling the end of the Texas Bowl in Houston, Texas, late last December, it also signified the end of an era at Western Michigan University.
For four years, four "brothers" occupied their respective positions in the defensive backfield for the Broncos.
Safeties Louis Delmas and C.J. Wilson and corners E.J. Biggers and Londen Fryar had held down their respective spots with authority for close to four years. Some of them moved onto the NFL—Delmas and Biggers both were drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft—and all of them left Kalamazoo with a degree in hand.
While head coach Bill Cubit never had to worry about who was standing at the four secondary spots, that won't be the case in 2009.
In fact, he'll have to worry about all four spots.
Enter Mario Armstrong.
The junior strong safety will look to emulate former Bronco great and second-round pick of the Detroit Lions, Louis Delmas.
Armstrong is not a newcomer. He has heavy playing experience, playing the nickel role and often entering the game for Wilson last season. He even made six starts as WMU would sometimes start in five defensive back sets.
He was fifth on the team in tackles with 64 (35 solo).
Another player expected to step up this season is cornerback Andy Dorcely. Dorcely, a senior out of the same high school as Delmas (North Miami Beach), will look to step out of the shadows and rise in his final season for WMU.
He did play in 10 games for the Broncos last season, but only recorded four tackles. Don't think he won't be ready, though. Delmas, Biggers and all the other veteran defensive backfield mates made sure that they were teaching the youngsters in their time in Brown and Gold.
Doug Wiggins and Josh Price are two others who could make their presence known in 2009 for Western Michigan.
Price, a corner, plays like a linebacker and their have been inklings that he could be moved to the position in the future—maybe even this season. A jarring hitter, Price made several huge special teams plays last season and the sophomore could see an increased role in the defense this year. He recorded a safety and had two forced fumbles for the Broncos in 2008.
He was even considered by Delmas to be the hardest hitter on the team last year.
Wiggins is another player of the North Miami Beach mould and plays the safety position just like Delmas. It remains to be seen what kind of potential he could provide on the field for the Broncos, but hopefully some of Delmas' attitude rubbed off on the sophomore.
Sophomores Deshon Lawrence and Keith Dixson also could be in the mix at the cornerback spot, while junior safety Jamail Berry should also receive time and may even start at the other spot next to Armstrong.
Berry is the most experienced out of the three, playing in 10 games last season for WMU.
It should be an interesting season for the WMU defense.
Losing most of it's starters definitely is a set-back, but with players like linebackers Austin Pritchard and Mitch Zajac and defensive lineman Cody Cielenski and Weston Peiffer among those holding down the front seven, the defensive backfield could do better than most expect.
With big games right away against Michigan and Indiana, the secondary should find out real fast what kind of season it'll be.
Hopefully, for Bronco fans, it'll be one similar to last season.