Football team signs new recruits for 2014 season

Georgette Breen-Naylor

The Wildcat football staff held a press conference Wednesday, Feb. 5 to discuss the new additions to the program.

After a 3-8 season, the Wildcats will open the 2014 season with a night game at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 against GLIAC opponent, Northwood University, in the Superior Dome. The team graduated several seniors, and starters on both sides of the ball.

Ostrowsky
Ostrowsky

On the offensive side, the ’Cats must replace senior quarterback Cody Scepaniak, senior offensive tackle Chad Anderson and senior wide receiver Christian Jessie. Jessie led the Wildcats in receiving yards with 724 and was the ’Cats return man with 899 kick return yards and two kick return touchdowns.

On the defensive side the Wildcats will lose senior defensive lineman Rodney Lamar, senior linebacker Morgan Stenz and senior corner Brandon Parson. Parson led the team in interceptions with three. The ’Cats recruited 38 new athletes who will be part of the team come summer.

Thirty-six of the 38 student athletes signed with the ’Cats were honorable mention or first team. Head coach Chris Ostrowsky said this recruiting class has an overall 2.75 GPA.

“Twenty-five of those guys were team captains on their team,” Ostrowsky said. “Ten played on state championship teams.”

The Upper Peninsula was one of the biggest areas of recruiting for the ’Cats, including 14 of the 38 signees. Ostrowsky said this year was, by far, the most talent he has seen from this region.

“I think it was an exciting time for U.P. football,” Ostrowsky said. “If we can sign nine every single year, we are going to be a heck of a football team.”

The ’Cats were also able to sign players from lower Michigan, different areas of Illinois, Wisconsin and even Florida.

One of the ’Cats’ main concerns in the recruiting process was to gain some depth at quarterback and defensive lineman. Last season the ’Cats lost both starting quarterback Scepaniak and junior backup quarterback, Dustin Thomas, early in the season. That left the only active quarterback on the roster, freshman Shaye Brown, to finish the season.

“You go through five quarterbacks in two years, you better bring some quarterbacks in,” Ostrowsky said. “I think we really addressed that to a point where we feel great about it.”

The ’Cats brought in quarterbacks Quintez Jones and junior college transfers Joseph Jurasin and Jaranta Lewis. Ostrowsky said he is excited about what each of them offers.

“Some people in the state of Illinois say [Jones] was the steal of a lifetime,” Ostrowsky said. “[Also,] JT Jurasin comes with a great football pedigree.”

Ostrowsky said Lewis is smart, fluid and will offer athleticism at the quarterback position.

The recruiting process is an ongoing one that starts during football season and picks up immediately after the last game of the season.

Ostrowsky said his staff has done a great job recruiting at each of their respective positions.

“You have to have the ability to recruit,” Ostrowsky said. “We don’t talk about selling our product, we really present it.”

The Wildcats are one of two Division II football schools located in the Upper Peninsula. Ostrowsky said being located so far away from a mass population can have its disadvantages.

“The hardest part for us is the inability to see our recruits on a day-to-day basis,” Ostrowsky said. “I think the challenge for us geographically is that we are not close to a large mass of people.”

The current Wildcat team has been working out in the mornings since the beginning of this semester.

Ostrowsky said the team has an outstanding work ethic both on and off the field.

“Our team GPA is over a 2.6 right now,” Ostrowsky said. “Our players are adamant that we are on the right path.”

The Wildcats will continue their winter workouts and will start their spring practice season in early March. The ’Cats 2014 regular season schedule is now available on Northern Michigan University’s sports website.