MARYVILLE, Mo. — It has been a bit of a busy stretch at times for new Northwest Missouri State head football coach Rich Wright and his staff.
The Bearcats recently completed their second straight perfect 15-0 season, capped by claiming the NCAA Division II national championship on Dec. 17 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.
The next day former coach Adam Dorrell resigned to take the head coach’s job at Abilene Christian University in Texas. On Dec. 19, Wright was announced as the new head coach in Maryville.
Since then, the staff has been busy working to assemble the next crop of Bearcat players.
Those efforts paid off Wednesday as Northwest Missouri State signed a class of 36. Among those 36 are three Creston/Orient-Macksburg players: Kadon Hulett, Chase Shiltz and Cody Tanner.
“It sure has been quite the whirlwind,” Wright said. “It’s been quite a bit of fun.”
Having this class signed, sealed and delivered takes a burden of the coaching staff.
“It’s a relief,” Wright said.
A big key in recruiting a successful class came in the minimal amount of turnover in the transition from Dorrell to Wright. All full-time coaches were kept at Northwest Missouri State.
“Probably the biggest thing in the recruiting process was the lack of transition,” Wright said. “I slid in and that’s it.”
That started the day Wright was hired.
“I came in on Monday, we got organized and away we go,” Wright said.
The same coaches continued to recruit the areas they always have, such as receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, and Harlan native, Joel Osborn continuing to recruit southwest Iowa.
“The consistency was the same,” Wright said. “The same guys had the same area. Having the staff back — you can’t underestimate its importance in what we’re able to do as a football program in this process.”
Northwest Missouri State’s run to its sixth national championship in school history shortened the recruiting window, as the coaching staff was busy with game preparation throughout December instead of focusing on recruiting.
That’s not a new drill in Maryville as the program has consistently been making deep playoff runs.
“Whenever we’re playing in the national championship, we have a pretty small window in recruiting,” Wright said. “Fortunately for us, that’s not a new thing. We plug and play what we’re supposed to do.”
With recruiting completed, there’s a little bit of down time for the staff. Wright noted the coaches will be out on the clinic circuit the next few weeks. Wright is in the process of hiring a new offensive line coach and hopes to make that hire relatively soon.
Then the Bearcats turn their sights towards starting another title run. Spring practice starts on March 1.
Among some of the workouts will be early morning workouts in the cold. Wright noted it helps the team prepare for what the conditions are like in December during the playoffs.
“We like to have winter wonderland workouts,” Wright said. “We try to make things fun as a reward. We want to acclimate them as much as we can.”
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