UNI Panthers

UNI football recruiting: Panthers' 2021 class 'is going to raise the bar'

Coach Mark Farley signs impact transfers to go along with high school recruits

Valley's Jayden Williams is tackled by Kennedy's Carson Currie (34) and Cairron Hendred (left) in the first quarter at a
Valley's Jayden Williams is tackled by Kennedy's Carson Currie (34) and Cairron Hendred (left) in the first quarter at a high school football game between Cedar Rapids Kennedy and West Des Moines Valley at Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa announced Wednesday the signing of 23 commits to its 2021 football recruiting class.

The 23 commitments marks a program-high since early signing day was introduced in 2018 and UNI coach Mark Farley largely attributed it to the evolution of college football, but did acknowledge that extra time to recruit this fall without playing a fall season due to COVID-19 provided some level of benefit.

Another interesting element Farley described while recruiting during a pandemic was getting opportunities to recruit players they likely wouldn’t have under normal circumstances. In particular, Sergio Morancy, a three-star wide receiver from Lely High School in Naples, Florida.

“There’s a lot of great players right now that due to COVID did not land where they thought they were going to land,” Farley said. “It’s very humbling and sad for these guys the opportunity that they missed because of COVID. It’s hard to get recruited on the tip of the Florida to the middle of the state this late in the game.”

Positionally UNI’s 2021 class includes one quarterback, three running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, seven offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two linebackers, three defensive backs and one long snapper.

While that may seem partially unbalanced, Farley says it’s a class full of versatility.

“They’re going to come in here to win their position, but I think all of them have the ability once Mother Nature takes over, that anything could happen as far as what position they could play,” Farley said. “Because of the (physical) frames they bring to the table and the athleticism they bring.”

Last year’s recruiting class was characterized by Farley as largely being “developmental,” however, this year’s is a mixture.

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The losses of three All-Americans — defensive end Elerson G. Smith, defensive back Xavior Williams and offensive tackle Spencer Brown — due to the fall season cancellation left large holes on a roster expected to compete for a national championship. So, with that in mind, Farley and his staff made a point to target transfers that could compete for those spots and seemingly carried out that plan.

Demarcus Governor, a defensive back from Central Michigan, started 11 games as a freshman for the Chippewas last season. Benny Sapp III, son of former UNI Panther Benny Sapp, arrives after playing in 13 games for the Minnesota as a freshman and 11 last fall as a sophomore.

“Benny’s father has really done a great job training Benny III,” Farley said. “It’s really cool when a dad that has played for us will turn around and encourage his son to come play here for us. I think that says a lot for our university, for our athletic department and for our community of what their dad went through.”

Kansas transfer Antione Frazier, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman, is expected to compete for a starting spot. As is Stanford graduate transfer Dylan Boles — a Van Meter native — along the defensive line.

Asked to summarize what this class means to the program, Farley didn’t mince words.

“We’re here to raise the bar and this class is going to raise the bar,” Farley said. “A lot of things will be the same, but we need to do some things different because we’re lining up on Feb. 20 and trying to play upwards of 24 to 28 games in 11 months.”

UNI football recruiting: Class of 2021 early signees

Aidan Dunne

Position: QB

Height: 6-0

Weight: 190

Hometown: Dubuque

High school: Hempstead

Rivals stars: NR

Highlights

Jayden Williams

Position: RB

Height: 6-1

Weight: 205

Hometown: Des Moines

High school: West Des Moines Valley

Rivals stars: 3

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Terrance Kamara

Position: RB

Height: 5-8

Weight: 175

Hometown: Minneapolis

High school: North

Rivals stars: 2

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Ryan Ostrich

Position: RB

Height: 5-10

Weight: 180

Hometown: Cedar Falls

High school: Cedar Falls

Rivals stars: NR

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Highlights

Sergio Morancy

Position: WR

Height: 6-3

Weight: 180

Hometown: Naples, Fla.

High school: Lely

Rivals stars: 3

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Dionysius Hogan

Position: WR

Height: 6-4

Weight: 195

Hometown: Peoria, Ill.

High school: Peoria

Rivals stars: 2

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Brandon Tillman

Position: WR

Height: 6-0

Weight: 200

Hometown: Bettendorf

Transfer: Iowa Central CC

Rivals stars: NR

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Layne Prior

Position: TE

Height: 6-3

Weight: 225

Hometown: Woodbine

High school: Woodbine

Rivals stars: NR

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Antione Frazier

Position: OL

Height: 6-5

Weight: 300

Hometown: Huffman, Texas

Transfer: Kansas

Rivals stars: 3

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Ethan George

Position: OL

Height: 6-3

Weight: 270

Hometown: Peculiar, Mo.

High school: Raymore-Peculiar

Rivals stars: 2

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Carter Hewitt

Position: OL

Height: 6-6

Weight: 249

Hometown: Jewell

High school: South Hamilton

Rivals stars: 2

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Jackson Heeringa

Position: OL

Height: 6-7

Weight: 260

Hometown: Batavia, Ill.

High school: Batavia

Rivals stars: 2

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Highlights

Carson Petlon

Position: OL

Height: 6-6

Weight: 295

Hometown: Manchester

High school: West Delaware

Rivals stars: 2

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Jordan Ver Meer

Position: OL

Height: 6-6

Weight: 285

Hometown: Inwood

High school: West Lyon

Rivals stars: NR

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Keean Kamerling

Position: OL

Height: 6-4

Weight: 260

Hometown: Mount Vernon

High school: Mount Vernon

Rivals stars: NR

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Dylan Boles

Position: DL

Height: 6-4

Weight: 255

Hometown: Van Meter

Transfer: Stanford

Rivals stars: 2

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Derek Anderson

Position: DE

Height: 6-6

Weight: 215

Hometown: Hinton

High school: Hinton

Rivals stars: NR

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Caleb Frazer

Position: LB

Height: 6-1

Weight: 195

Hometown: Kimberly, Wis.

High school: Kimberly

Rivals stars: 2

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Tucker Langenberg

Position: LB

Height: 6-2

Weight: 200

Hometown: Urbandale

High school: Urbandale

Rivals stars: NR

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Benny Sapp III

Position: DB

Height: 6-0

Weight: 185

Hometown: Eden Prairie, Minn.

Transfer: Minnesota

Rivals stars: 3

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Highlights

Demarcus Governor

Position: DB

Height: 6-0

Weight: 180

Hometown: Plant City, Fla.

Transfer: Central Michigan

Rivals stars: 3

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Michael Olowo

Position: DB

Height: 6-1

Weight: 190

Hometown: Rogers, Minn.

High school: Rogers

Rivals stars: 3

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Drew Clausen

Position: LS

Height: 6-6

Weight: 220

Hometown: Dallas Center

High school: Dallas Center-Grimes

Rivals stars: NR

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