Western recap: The rebuild continues under WIU alum Hendrickson

New Jersey native Naseim Brantley is Prairie State Pigskin’s choice for WIU Offensive MVP. (Photo by Barry Bottino, PrairieStatePigskin.com)

Western Illinois Leathernecks

Head coach: Mark Hendrickson (WIU, 2011)

Conference: Missouri Valley

Record: 0-11 (0-8)

Biggest (near) win: The Leathernecks let a 10-point lead slip away in the final 3:09 to drop a 28-27 heartbreaker on a Youngstown State field goal on the game’s final play.

Most frustrating loss: A case could be made for WIU’s 17-10 early season home loss to Southern Utah, but the sting of explosive plays that snatched away victory for YSU takes the prize.

Offensive MVP: WR Naseim Brantley

Despite missing the final game with injury, the graduate transfer led WIU with 53 receptions for 893 yards and nine touchdowns.

Brantley accounted for 32 percent of Western’s catches, 45 percent of its reception yards and 53 percent of its total touchdowns in the games he appeared in the Leatherneck lineup.

Defensive MVP: LB Juan DelaCruz

The junior from Gurnee led the Leathernecks in total tackles, assisted tackles, forced fumbles and quarterback hurries.

Unsung hero: DB TJ Limehouse

The redshirt senior transfer emerged as the team’s No. 2 tackler, including a 15-takedown performance against Northern Iowa.

Parting shot: WIU had only two rushing touchdowns all season.

Tomorrow: Barry Bottino examines 5 burning questions facing the Leathernecks in 2023.

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