The KCAC has its first graduate transfer ever and he’s not just any transfer.
The NAIA recently approved that former Bethany College football star Nate Ocran is eligible immediately to play at Kansas Wesleyan.
Ocran rushed for 1,039 yards last year for a Bethany team that was 3-8, later changed to 1-10 as it had two victories stripped for the use of an ineligible player.
According to The Salina Journal, Ocran received his degree in accounting at Bethany, but is working on his Masters. Kansas Wesleyan offers the graduate courses he needs and playing another year of football was just the icing on the cake as he still had one year of eligibility remaining. He is what a true “student-athlete” is all about.
Imagine Ocran in the backfield for a KW team that was 9-2 last year and chockfull of talent returning in 2017. There’s no telling what kind of numbers he’ll put up. The Coyotes already return one of the KCAC’s most dynamic backs in Demarco Prewitt and also have Tyler Welch and newcomer Jerrod Ferguson, who was the rage of KW’s spring game.
I have a feeling Ocran’s transfer will ramp up emotions in what already is the best rivalry in the KCAC. The conference actually has very few rivalries — Tabor-Bethel comes to mind though Tabor dominates in most sports — and while Bethany and McPherson College reside in the same county, if you ask any fervent Swede who their No. 1 rival is they’ll breathe fire and say it’s the Coyotes.
It’s much like Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. While you would think most Jayhawk fans think of Kansas State as their biggest rival, it’s actually Missouri. But the schools are now in different conferences and only meet if they are paired in postseason play.
I can only imagine the hype surrounding the KW-Bethany matchup, which will take place Oct. 28 in Lindsborg. The Coyotes, unless I miss the mark, will probably be undefeated in the KCAC going into that game if they can knock off Tabor the week before, though the game is in Hillsboro. Bethany is expected to perhaps be the sleeper team, the one most likely to make a surprising jump as some former talented players who were recruited by former coach Manny Matsakis have come back, including Rodney Mollette, who should be one of the KCAC’s top receivers.
This isn’t the first time Kansas Wesleyan has been buoyed by a KCAC transfer. Two years ago the Coyotes went from 2-9 to 10-2 as they were upgraded by the infusion of several KCAC transfers. Former McPherson College Bulldogs Miles Balthazor and Kelly Cordova played huge roles for the Coyotes, Balthazor as a running back and Cordova as a utility player. Balthazor had enjoyed a tremendous freshman season at Mac before transferring, while Cordova played some quarterback. Unfortunately, Balthazor’s career ended due to injuries while Cordova is battling for the starting quarterback spot this fall in his final year. He, too, has battled injuries in his KW career.
KW in 2015 also was bolstered by two star defensive backs from Friends as well as some Bethany College transfers. That year signaled a turnaround for the Coyotes, who followed that season up by going 9-2 last year, but missed the playoffs when they were upset the final week of the season by Saint Mary.
With the addition of Ocran, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Coyotes win the KCAC and make the playoffs, though it’s still hard to go against Tabor.