CEDAR FALLS — It was a recruiting mission that had no borders.
Northern Iowa inked 21 players during the early signing period in December and Wednesday’s signing day, and it is a group that stretches from coast to coast.
The class has defensive back Taj Moffett from University Place, Wash., and junior college defensive back Roosevelt Lawrence from Tampa, Fla, via Iowa Central Community College.
“I told our guys it was about going out and finding the best athletes at every position and there were no boundaries to finding them,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said. “It was go get the best guys.”
Just six of the 21 hail from the state of Iowa — offensive lineman Jordan Hook of Grundy Center, linebacker Sam Thompson from Van Meter, linebacker Jordan Gayer from Waverly, offensive lineman Chase Arends of Dike, defensive tackle Tim Butcher of Manson and wide receiver Sam Ingoli of West Des Moines.
Additionally, Purdue transfer Jack Wegher played a season at Sioux City Heelan before finishing his prep career at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“There was an emphasis on defensive players because we graduated a huge class of defensive players,” Farley added. “And if you look at the landscape of our league, you have to have a great defense to win championships.
“So, again, there were no borders, it was go get the best players available.”
Farley was happy with how his staff was able to go into a bountiful Kansas City area and grab players like defensive end Devin Rice, athlete Shakespeare Williams, athlete Trevon Alexander and Blue Springs' defensive tackle Khristian Boyd.
Versatile may be another adjective to describe UNI’s class.
Alexander scored 64 career touchdowns while playing quarterback, running back and wide receiver for Richmond. Eric Mooney, who calls former South Dakota quarterback Chris Streveler a close friend, racked up 9,083 total yards and 99 touchdowns in his career as a quarterback, running back and receiver at Huntley High School in the western Chicago suburbs.
Williams played six different positions for Ruskin High in Kansas City, and was a three-time first team all-conference defensive back.
Deion McShane is the brother of Western Illinois running back Steve McShane and produced more than 2,500 all-purpose yards for the Freeport Pretzels. He’s also a state champion hurdler.
“A lot of kids who have the capability to be great players,” Farley said. “A lot of potential high impact football players at a young age.”
Farley said there are great stories, too, such as Alex Allen, a tight end from Nixa, Mo., who happens to be the son of former UNI coach Terry Allen.
“One of the feel good stories,” Farley said of Allen. “Coach Allen knows the university, this is his youngest son. The story comes full circle with Terry’s son coming to play at UNI.”
Junior college transfers Tim Butcher and Roosevelt Lawrence are expected to add depth to the defensive line and defensive backfield, respectively, after graduation hit UNI hard in those areas.
Wegher adds depth at running back.
“Jack became available just before Christmas,” Farley said. “He is a lot like Marcus Weymiller, and our hopes is he can help split the load with Marcus, and help Marcus be a stronger player down the stretch because he can help split the load.”