Bearcats Coach Mel Tjeerdsma Northwest Missouri State head football coach Mel Tjeerdsma has released the names of 26 high school seniors who signed national letters of intent to become Bearcats in the fall of 2008. Of the signees, 13 hail from Missouri, 11 are linemen and six are linebackers. Five competed for a state championship in 2007 and two of those five won the crown.

The 26 student-athletes join a program that has played for a national championship in each of the last three seasons, has won 21 straight MIAA games and has won 17 straight home games at Bearcat Stadium.

“With this class, we felt we had to address two things,” said Tjeerdsma. “We needed a little more speed across the board but especially at receiver, and we needed to add some bodies on the offensive and defensive lines. We lost some kids to injury last year on the defensive line and we needed to build more man power there and I think we’ve done that.”

Seven of the 11 linemen recruited played on the defensive side of the ball in high school. Nine of the signees compete in track and field. In addition, two are power lifters in high school, three wrestle and one (Collin DeBuysere) plays hockey.

Northwest successfully recruited in the states of Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin in addition to Missouri.

“I really think we did a good job getting the guys from a little further distance,” said Tjeerdsma. “We can expand that, but we still believe the core of our team has to come from our base – Missouri, Iowa, northeast Nebraska and a little bit of Kansas. The fact that we’ve had a little more national attention has certainly helped. Kids see you and want to be a part of your program.”

Two Bearcat games in each of the last three seasons, the national semifinals and the national championships, were broadcast by ESPN before a nation-wide audience.