CEDAR FALLS — With the sting of a quarterfinal loss to second-ranked James Madison still lingering, Northern Iowa football coach Mark Farley and his staff secured 13 early signing period commitments on Wednesday.
Farley, like any coach on signing day, was excited about a group he said fits the culture of the program and like many Panthers before them will be counted on to develop over a four- or five-year career.
“The key to Northern Iowa football is the development of players,” Farley said. “We’ve got big, long bodies. Big frames that need two years of weight room. And when they get done with two years of weight room you’re talking the Elerson Smiths and (Spencer Browns).”
While Farley deemed the majority of Wednesday’s signees as developmental players he left the door open for skill players to potentially contribute as freshmen, most notably running back Jaylin Richardson.
Richardson, a 3-star recruit from Kansas City, decommitted from Kansas in favor of the Panthers. He announced his decision Wednesday during a ceremony at Schlagle High School.
“We needed that big, strong running back and we just don’t need a back, we need a difference maker,” Farley said. “Whether he’s that or not, I don’t know, but I do know he’s a big, strong running back we’ve been looking at for a long time.”
Along with Richardson, the Panthers landed another particularly notable recruit on Wednesday. Solon wide receiver and safety Jace Andregg filed his paperwork to become a Panther.
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“Jace Andregg is a pure athlete,” Farley said. “He was rated as a sophomore as one of the best athletes in a lot of camps. To me, Jace is the perfect prototype, numbers-wise, that really turns into a great player here.”
Farley said between now and the final signing day on Feb. 5. the Panthers will target defensive backs, wide receivers and running backs.
“I’m guessing we’ll probably sign five or six more guys (by) February,” Farley said. “There’s some high school kids I’m looking at. There’s some (transfer) portal kids I’m looking at and there’s some (junior college) kids I’m looking at.”
Outside of Wednesday’s recruiting news, Farley said his team should be relatively healthy by the time spring practices begin. He added many of the injured players will not require surgery this offseason and it will be up to the staff to determine how much workload on them once spring arrives.
“It appears to me that we will get most everybody back for spring ball,” Farley said. “As of today, going into Christmas break, I don’t see a surgery that will affect spring ball today.”
Class of 2020 UNI football signees
Hometown (High school): Solon (Solon)
Hometown (High school): Kansas City, Kan. (Schlagle)
Hometown (High school): Fort Dodge (Fort Dodge)
Hometown (High school): Bettendorf (Bettendorf)
Hometown (High school): Carlisle (Carlisle)
Hometown (High school): Omaha, Neb. (Skutt Catholic)
Hometown (High school): Kingfisher, Okla. (Kingfisher)
Hometown (High school): Centerville (Centerville)
Hometown (High school): Sidney (Sidney)
Hometown (High school): Waterloo (Columbus Catholic)
Hometown (High school): Troy, Mo. (Buchanan)
Hometown (High school): Eldridge (North Scott)
Hometown (High school): St. Cloud, Minn. (St. Cloud Tech)