Football team inks 31 future Wildcats

drew.kochanny

NMU will be welcoming 31 new student athletes to the Wildcat football team for the start of the 2009-2010 season.
Northern’s prospects hail from seven different states – with 22 of the 31 players from Michigan.
“I think there are some guys on this list that can make a difference or play at the level we need to play at in order to be very competitive in this conference,” head coach Bernie Anderson said. “It’s a good size group and it gives you a chance in four or five years to have 15 to 20 seniors and that’s a good thing obviously.”
Bringing players the coaches felt would fit the style of play and have good character remains the biggest challenge in recruiting, which is something this season Anderson feels the team addressed.
“We look for four things. Do we have what they want to study, can we predict academic success, and character and then athletic ability,” Anderson said. “We feel every recruit we have, with very few exceptions, fit those four categories.”
The NMU football team is coming off of a 2-8 season.
NMU had 10 seniors depart from last year’s team including five starters.
Offensively, the team brought in 16 players including two transfers who have already begun their career at NMU this semester.
The ‘Cats bring in four wide receiver recruits as well as three running backs to help strengthen the skill positions.
The Wildcats return Carter Kopach and Ben Hempel, both of whom saw time last year at quarterback.
However, depth behind the two remained a concern after the graduation of senior Vincent Church and transfer of redshirt-freshman Matt Blanchard.
Therefore, the quarterback position was also addressed this offseason.
Casey Barnes, of Mequon, Wisc. signed with the Wildcats improving the depth at the position.
At 6-foot-2-inches, 205 pounds Barnes led his high school to a state championship this season throwing for 1,855 yards on 107-of-172 passing, with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions as the team’s offensive MVP.
Anderson said he felt Barnes would be a good addition to the team.
“Casey Barnes is a highly regarded borderline D-I quarterback that a lot of people feel very good about, and obviously we’re one of them,” Anderson said.
Barnes said he thought Northern was a great choice of schools.
“On my visit I fell in love with the city of Marquette; everyone was real nice, and the (athletic) facilities up there were second to none,” Barnes said on why he chose NMU. “I felt a close connection with the coaches as well.”
Barnes expects to redshirt his freshman season, like most freshman do, but in the future can see himself leading the team.
“In the future I’d like to have a significant role with the team and do whatever it takes to help bring Northern back to a winning team,” Barnes said.
Joining Barnes in the offensive backfield will be running back Antonio Wallace, 5-foot-9-inches 185 pounds and a Florida native of Tampa Bay Tech High School.
Wallace is a versatile athlete who saw time this season at running back, wide receiver, defensive back and even quarterback, while also returning kicks.
Connections through coaches landed Wallace at NMU. Anderson said he is glad to have found out about Wallace.
“His coach knew one of our coaches, the contact was made, we evaluated the film and he’s obviously an impact player at the Division II level,” Anderson said. “That’s a good, good get for us,”
Defensively the ‘Cats bring in 14 recruits, six of which are expected to play in the defensive backfield.
Headlining the group of defenders is defensive back Brock Reynolds, 6 foot, 185 pounds, from Battle Creek, Mich. Reynolds is the brother of current NMU fullback Brandon Reynolds.