This story was written by Patrick Nothaft of MLive.com. It is being re-posted with permission.
KALAMAZOO, MI – Rarely at a loss for words, Western Michigan’s loquacious football coach, Tim Lester, struggled to find the right one to describe the impact senior running back Jamauri Bogan has made on the program.
Hard to blame him, though, as it’s not easy to wrap up the accomplishments of a fifth-year player who served as a leader under a previous coaching staff and helped ensure player buy-in under a new regime.
“I don’t know how you put it into words, to be honest with you,” Lester said of Bogan’s impact on the program. “To pick a word that means that much — ‘transformational’ — as far as going from our old culture, which was great and he thrived in, to building our new culture and helping people bridge that gap with the new guys and helping the new guys, with seven freshmen starting, to play like sophomores and juniors because he can put his arm around them.
“That’s a broad enough word to cover all the stuff he’s done.”
On Monday, Bogan added to his Bronco legacy by receiving the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Humanitarian Award, which recognizes a player from both WMU and BYU for their exemplary work in their respective communities.
BYU outside linebacker Adam Pulsipher was his team’s award recipient.
“As a student-athlete, I think it’s really important to use your platform to give back to someone else,” Bogan said in a video from WMUBroncos.com. “We have a lot of people who pay attention to us, so why not use that to elevate somebody else’s life?”
Bogan’s work in the community includes meeting with students at Tree of Life Elementary School, mentoring student-athletes and Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, and most recently working with the 12 Baskets organization to collect donations for Thanksgiving food baskets.
The New Jersey native has also represented WMU on the Mid-American Conference’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, served in the university’s Fellowship for Christian Athlete’s organization and is the current vice president of WMU’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes, through which Bogan helped organize a Touchdown Pledge Drive in October, which raised money for rare disease awareness and research.
When the Broncos went to the Bahamas Bowl in 2015, Bogan helped organize a clothing drive for the islands, which were hit by a tropical storm after WMU’s game.
In each of the past two years, Bogan has been WMU’s nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is known as college football’s premier award for community service.
“This opportunity has been a true blessing,” Bogan said. “In five years, I’ll have two degrees. I’ve had the opportunity to touch so many different lives. I’ve learned from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ I’ve been able to just be around people who actually care about serving others, and that forever changed my life because as an 18-year-old young man, I was very selfish, but as I’ve gotten older and as I sit here at 22 years old, I can say that truly it’s not about me, and I enjoy giving back, and I enjoy caring about my teammates, I enjoy spending time with my teammates.”
There are other goodwill endeavors to which Bogan has volunteered his time throughout his stay in Kalamazoo, but they haven’t stopped him from excelling on the field or in the classroom.
The 5-foot-7 running back ranks second in WMU history with 42 career rushing touchdowns and is sixth all-time with 3,265 rushing yards. This year, he leads the MAC with 15 rushing touchdowns and was named at third team all-conference selection.
With a 3.25 GPA in his master’s of business administration coursework, Bogan is one of a program-record 20 WMU players to earn Academic All-MAC honors in 2018.
After attaining his graduate degree, Bogan plans to continue his work in real estate and already has a company up and running, Nekton Investments, which he started with senior offensive lineman Curtis Doyle.
“In the future, I expect to continue to stay on the same path of serving and maybe in a different capacity since I’ve started a real estate company,” Bogan said. “Right now, we’re dealing with distressed properties and people in distressed situations, so I’m giving back and helping somebody in a situation that’s not the best case for them, but granting them opportunity to say, ‘Hey look, you can move on from the situation and be better after we assist you in getting what you need.'”
Juggling his volunteer work, a successful senior season and a budding real estate career, Bogan hasn’t shown signs of being overwhelmed or overtaxed to Lester, he’s still the same well-mannered young man he met when he was hired in Jan. 2017.
“He’s fun to be around, smiling all the time,” Lester said. “I told him I’m calling him for money someday because he’s going to make a ton of money, and I’ll be on the horn for some. He’s going to be a boss quickly because he’s great at leading people. He’s fair, smart and there’s really nothing he can’t handle.
“I think back to so many stories in the year, where we’re down in games, and we need to score right now, and that’s not his forte of breaking off a 50-yard run, but he’s dialed in going nuts.
“He just understands it and is like another coach out there, another mentor and leader for everybody. I don’t have much time left with him, so I go to him and just talk to him to try to enjoy our last days together.”
With WMU’s bowl game just three days away, Bogan’s time as a member of the Bronco football team is coming to an end, but he’s made sure to take an extra second to live in the moment.
“When it’s your last year, you kind of soak everything in,” he said. “The first camp practice, I just stared and just kind of watched everyone run over and get into stretch lines. You start to take everything in and appreciate every moment.
“Practice is no longer like, ‘Aw man, I’m going to practice; it’s ‘I get to go to practice.’
“You’re more excited about every single moment because you know that on December 21st at 9 o’clock at night, it’s over.
“What I want to do is say that I gave it my all, I left it all out there, and I cared about everybody who was part of the journey.”