After winning a total of three games in his first two seasons, Creighton steered the Eagles to a 7-6 finish in 2017, and a 24-20 loss to Old Dominion in the Bahamas Bowl — the first bowl appearance for Eastern since 1987.
On Wednesday, the Eagles officially added 26 signees, including three area athletes and one from Finland.
"I think that in some ways, it's more of the same, which is a good thing," Creighton said of his recruiting approach each of the last three years. "We went out and won seven ballgames last year with guys that people hadn't heard of. We're following our same blueprint of coming out and finding talented and passionate players who fit who we are and what we're doing.
"The approach is not different in terms of the success. The plan's been laid all the way out. We're following that plan. We're doing it by finding guys who are leaders, who have courage and confidence and who want to make this program really special."
At the top of that list is 3-star quarterback Jairus Grissom (River Rouge).
"He needs to learn this year and develop relationships with his teammates and become that leader," Creighton said of Grissom, who is expected to redshirt. "He's a dynamite athlete. With our quarterback situation, you hope that he wouldn't need to play this fall. That's not saying that he wouldn't. You hope that your fifth-year senior stays heallhy and is good to go."
Grissom, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who transferred from Dearborn Heights Robichaud prior to his senior season, said he felt more at home in Ypsilanti, as opposed to places like Syracuse, Houston, Mount Pleasant (Central Michigan), Piscattaway, N.J. (Rutgers) and Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest), where he had offers.
"I just felt more comfortable there," Grissom said. "It was a great atmosphere and I really believe in the coaching staff."
As far as the Power Five and Group of Five schools that offered him, Grissom said the opportunity to play behind a 4-star starter in Brogan Roback was one of the reasons he chose Eastern. Another was the ability to compete for a starting spot next season. Roback is a fifth-year senior.
"Eastern Michigan was open for me to become a great quarterback," Grissom said. "I really want to learn the playbook. I want to build from the ground up. Everybody's talking about coming to Eastern Michigan."
He's still not set on a major.
"A lot of people told me once you go into a major, you end up changing it," said Grissom, who is considering careers in sports management and motivational speaking.
On defense, Eastern picked up 2-star linebacker Desean Boyd, from Detroit Cass Tech.
"Obviously, he's a winner," Creighton said of 6-1, 214-pound Boyd. "He's a winner person and that's always the first thing we're looking at. He's also (6-1) and can run and plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He's aggressive. Coach Neathery can't wait to get his hands on him at LB. He's got a very, very bright future."
Creighton said most of this year's class committed early. Wide receiver Johnny Niupalau was a key part of the Eastern offense, playing all 13 games and catching 28 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns.
"They believed in this thing before there was some tangible evidence," Creighton said. "Most of them chose this place before the end of the season. It's just exciting."
Eastern begins its season on Sept. 1 at home against Charlotte.
Eastern Michigan's signees
Name Pos. Ht./Wt. School
Blake Bogan DB 6-2/190 Grand Blanc (Mich.)
Desean Boyd LB 6-1/214 Cass Tech (Mich.)
Bobby Brown DB 6-1/175 East Bay (Fla.)
Sam Dervil OL 6-5/300 Miami Northwestern (Fla.)
Carthell Flowers DB 6-2/195 Nottingham (N.Y.)
Jairus Grissom QB 6-2/204 River Rouge (Mich.)
Jeff Hubbard DB 5-11/185 Woodward Academy (Ga.)
CJ Hunt DL 6-1/275 Avon (Ind.)
Preston Hutchinson QB 6-2/195 Mason (Ohio)
Greg Jean WR 5-11/164 Boyd Anderson (Fla.)
Desmond Kelly DL 6-1/295 Overlea (Md.)
Jesse Kelly K 6-0/195 St. Bonaventure (Calif.)
Tyler LaBarbera DL 6-2, 310 James B. Conant (Ill.)
Terry Myrick LB 6-0/210 Woodward Academy (Ga.)
Karmi Mackey RB 6-1/210 Seffner Christian (Fla.)
Gunnar Oakes TE 6-5/210 Swanton (Ohio)
Antoine Porter WR 5-8/185 Mission (Calif.)
Sidy Sow OL 6-5/315 Leclerc-Champlain Lennoxville (Canada)