Wearing his trademark pair of shades, Northwest Missouri State head football coach Adam Dorrel sat in his office late Wednesday afternoon and spoke glowingly about his newest recruiting class.
Revealed earlier in the day, Northwest's 2013 class—the second under Dorrel's watch—consists of 34 high school athletes, 21 of which hail from in-state.
Northwest signed its remaining 13 players from Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois.
Position-wise, the Bearcats went heaviest on offensive and defensive linemen, signing 17. There are also four quarterbacks, although at least one will switch positions.
"I thought it was a very complete class from top to bottom," said Dorrel. "I think we got athletes that our quick, fast. We got big kids, tall, rangy kids; kids we can develop and grow with Joe Quinlin (Northwest strength coach) down the road. It's hard to quantify. Certainly in our mind and what I've seen, I thought it was a great recruiting class."
Among Northwest's 21 in-state signees were Maryville quarterback Jonathan Baker and defensive lineman Caleb Mather.
Both were first team all-state selections for a Spoofhound team that went 15-0 and won the Class 3 state title.
Baker (6-0, 180) broke the school's single-season, single-game and career passing records as a senior, finishing with 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Mather (6-1, 260) led the Hounds with 21.5 tackles for loss and added 4.5 sacks.
"I recruited them because of the type of person they are, the type of student they are and the type of athlete they are, not because they're from Maryville, said Dorrel, an MHS graduate. "I would've recruited those kids if they were in Savannah or wherever. I thought we did a really good job recruiting those kids. We recruited them hard and we showed them where they were going to fit into our program, how they're going to fit in and made it clear to both of those kids you're not just here because you're from Maryville. You're here because you're a good football player and you can help our program."
In the same city where Maryville captured the Class 3 title, Northwest had an unprecedented amount of recruiting success.
Off a 10-3 season, the Bearcats signed a whopping 11 players from the St. Louis metropolitan area, out-numbering the amount of Kansas City-area prospects by five.
Four of the St. Louis signees—linebacker Jarrod Bishop, quarterback Jordan Bishop, safety Edward Richey and defensive lineman Jordan Spiller—were starters on Kirkwood's Class 5 state championship team. Two others—offensive lineman Miles McIntyre (6-3, 308) and defensive lineman Jordan Harold (6-2, 245) played at McCluer North.
The Bishop brothers, Richey and McIntyre were first team all-state selections in Class 5. Offensive lineman Jimmy Alloway (6-4, 270) made first team all-state in Class 6 for state runner-up Francis Howell.
Defensive back Wes Williams was a second-team all-state selection at Maplewood Richmond-Heights.
"We re-structured how we recruited this year," said Dorrel. "We placed an emphasis down there and had a full-time coach down there with Kenny Gordon. I just think by adding two full-time coaches we were able to allow those two guys to focus on certain areas. They did a phenomenal job of going in there and recruiting and developing relationships. You change your philosophy or your plan a little bit and you're always nervous, Boy, it was one of the better decisions we've made because I thought we hit a home run down there this year."
Dorrel identified Jordan Bishop as the most likely of Northwest's four quarterback signees to undergo a position switch once he arrives on campus.
The Bearcats other three signal-callers—Baker, Randy Schmidt and Brad Strauss—will stay put under center for the time-being.
Dorrel feels at least one of that quarterback group has a chance to be a special player.
"At the end of the day, they're dual-threat kids," said Dorrel. "You look at their academic prowess and people are like what does that have to do with it. It has a lot to do with it. What we do offensively and how much we put on the quarterback, they have to be mentally capable kids. They have to be able to retain information. They have to be able to regurgitate information in a timely manner. All those quarterbacks are good athletes. They're good students. You look at all of them and they all made key plays this year for their teams."
Strauss, who starred in a dual-threat role at 6A Lawrence (Kan.) High, was one of six players from the Kansas City-area to sign with Northwest.
Lawrence teammate Eric Mayo, a 5-10, 170-pound defensive back, will accompany Strauss to Northwest.
Strauss was a finalist for the Simone Award, given annually to the top high school player in Kansas City.
He accounted for 38 touchdowns as a senior while playing quarterback, safety and punter. Mayo was an all-state selection his senior year, playing wide receiver and defensive back.
On the Missouri side, Northwest landed Raytown defensive lineman Jamie Nix (6-7, 240), Lee's Summit West defensive back Brandon Miller (6-0, 190), Gladstone defensive back Marcus Jones (6-0, 180) and Oak Grove wide receiver Derrick Dow (6-4, 188).
Jones and Miller were all-state selections.
Other in-state Bearcat signees include St. Joseph Lafayette defensive lineman Bryce Denton (6-3, 270), Webb City kicker Alex Easley (5-10, 160 and Palmyra defensive lineman Bobby Gruenloh (6-4, 225). Easley, a left-footed kicker, was a three-time all-state selection on a team that's won three consecutive Class 4 state titles.
Northwest's contingent of Iowa prospects includes Schmidt (6-2, 190), tight end Clayton Wilson (6-4, 200), running back Jordan Grove (5-11, 190), offensive lineman Noah Taylor (6-4, 270), offensive lineman Dylan Jones (6-6, 245) and defensive lineman Keaton Huett (6-3, 215).
Schmidt, a first-team all-state selection, set his conference's passing record last year.
From Nebraska, Northwest nabbed defensive lineman Luke Drazic (6-5, 224), offensive lineman Ryan Huff (6-4, 250) and wide receiver Bryce Sheard (6-3, 188).
An FCS prospect from suburban Omaha, Sheard was a two-time all-state honoree and was invited to play in the Nebraska Shrine Bowl. He will also compete with the Northwest track and field team.
The Bearcats' three Illinois recruits are defensive lineman Ben Calamari (6-3, 245), defensive lineman
Tyler Van Dahm (6-3, 235) and running back Cameron Wilcox (5-10, 190).
Only one player— wide receiver Hayden Bryant—is from Texas, an area the Bearcats backed off of to concentrate more on St. Louis.
"Quite honestly, we haven't had great luck down there the last few years," said Dorrel. "A lot of kids come into our program from there and then whether it's grade issues or whether it was too far from home, they leave. We just made a concerted effort as a staff; we got a major metropolitan area in the state. They play good high school football there and we just felt like we needed to do a better job and give it more attention."
Dorrel said he'll determine after the first 13 practices of fall camp which freshmen will redshirt.
For right now, he says Easley has the best chance to contribute right away due to Northwest's lack of an experienced kicker.
Dorrel also noted that the Bearcats have no plans to bring in any junior college transfers or Division I transfers.
"It needs to be a need for us," said Dorrel. "Right now, I don't see a glaring need."