Two WMU football linemen sign undrafted free agent deals, 7 more get NFL shot at rookie camp

KALAMAZOO, MI – Former Western Michigan wide receiver Skyy Moore became the ninth player in program history to get picked in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, but he won’t be the only Bronco getting his first shot at pro football this spring.

Two of Moore’s teammates from WMU’s 2021 team signed undrafted free agent contracts in the days following the draft, while seven more received invitations to rookie minicamps.

Mike Caliendo will join Moore in Kansas City, after signing a deal with the Chiefs, while fellow offensive lineman Wesley French will join the Indianapolis Colts on an undrafted free agent contract.

Caliendo was a five-year starter at WMU and earned First Team All-Mid-American Conference honors in 2020 and 2021, while taking home second team all-league honors in 2019.

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Brookfield, Wis., native played guard and center during his WMU career and paved the way for the nation’s 17th-best rushing offense at 212.8 yards per game in 2021.

Caliendo also shined off the field by boasting a 3.90 GPA in his biomedical sciences undergraduate coursework, before going on to pursue a master’s degree in the field.

He has earned Academic All-MAC honors five times and was one of 13 finalists for the 2021 Campbell Trophy, which is also known as the Academic Heisman.

French, Caliendo’s former linemate, moved from center to left tackle ahead of the 2021 season and helped pave the way for the Broncos’ strong ground game, while pass protecting for a WMU offense that allowed 2.2 sacks per game, which was 64th nationally.

French brings some versatility to the Colts, after playing defensive tackle during the 2018 season, then moving to center in 2020 and finally left tackle in 2021.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound St. Joseph, Mich., native signed with WMU in the class of 2015 and played in four games during the team’s 2016 run to the Cotton Bowl.

In addition to the Broncos’ two undrafted free agent signees, seven former WMU players received rookie minicamp invitations.

Sophomore quarterback Kaleb Eleby heads the group, after accepting an invite from the Seattle Seahawks shortly after the draft, while Tennessee Chattanooga transfer receiver Bryce Nunnelly will join Moore and Caliendo in Kansas City, following his one year with the Broncos, in which he caught 10 passes for 114 yards.

MAC Defensive Player of the Year Ali Fayad heads to New York as part of the Jets rookie minicamp, after a breakout season along WMU’s defensive line, in which the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Dearborn, Mich., native collected 40 tackles (18 for loss), 13 sacks, nine quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Tight end Brett Borske, a 6-foot-7, 275-pound redshirt junior, will join Fayad at the Jets’ minicamp, while also participating in rookie camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Naperville, Ill., native is coming of a 2021 season that saw him catch six passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns, all of which came in the last four games, after missing much of the first part of the season with an injury.

The Chicago Bears rookie camp will feature three former Broncos, as linebacker/defensive back AJ Thomas and defensive linemen Ralph Holley and Kainoa Fuiava each accepted an invitation to the Windy City.

Thomas, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior out of Detroit, made 53 tackles in 2021, to go along with one sack and one pass break-up.

The 6-foot-1, 297-pound Holley earned Second Team All-MAC honors in his fourth year as a starter, after tallying 39 tackles (16.5 for loss), six sacks, four quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.

In his first season with the Broncos after transferring in from Idaho State, the 6-foot-3, 317-pound Fuiava collected nine tackles (2 for loss) and a quarterback hurry in 10 games.

NFL rookie camps can begin on the first or second weekend following the NFL draft, so it shouldn’t be too long before a clearer picture emerges on the status of WMU’s nine undrafted players trying to make their mark at the pro level.

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