UNI Football Signs 22 Student-Athletes on National Signing Day

Courtesy: University of Northern Iowa Athletics

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By James Steward

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The University of Northern Iowa football team has signed 22 student-athletes to letters-of-intent on National Signing Day, UNI head coach Mark Farley announced Wednesday.

The list of signees includes four elite all-state performers from the state of Iowa and two junior college transfers. Of the 20 high school signees, 10 are from the state of Iowa and 10 come from out-of-state.

UNI is coming off a 10-3 season, a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship, and a berth in the NCAA FCS Quarterfinals. The Panthers have finished six of the last 11 seasons ranked in the top five nationally.

Offense
Evan Williams, 6-0, 200, RB, Minneapolis, Minn. (DeLaSalle HS/Iowa Western CC)
Kevin Carroll, 6-3, 280, OL, Edina, Minn. (Edina HS)
Trevor Hanson, 6-5, 280, OL, West Des Moines, Iowa (WDM Valley HS)
Dustin Ihns, 6-3, 285, OL, Tipton, Iowa (Tipton HS)
Justin Putney, 6-6, 305, OL, Forest City, Iowa (Forest City HS)
Robert Rathje, 6-3, 265, OL, Van Horne, Iowa (Benton Community)
Ty Soulek, 6-5, 285, OL, Yankton, S.D., (Yankton)
Griffin Gaeta, 6-6, 215, TE, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine HS)
Logan Cunningham, 5-11, 180, WR, Arcadia, Ind. (Hamilton Heights HS)
Justin Black, 6-2, 210, QB, Naples, Fla. (Barron Collier)
D.J. Hebert, 6-2, 185, Athlete, Maple Grove, Minn. (Osseo HS)
Tyvis Smith, 6-1, 185, Athlete, Davenport, Iowa (Davenport Central)

Defense
Breion Creer, 6-5, 255, DL, Shakopee, Minn. (Benilde-St. Margaret’s)
Brett McMakin, 6-4, 215, DL, Overland Park, Kan. (Blue Valley West)
Karter Schult, 6-2, 240, DL, Tripoli, Iowa (Tripoli HS)
Ricky Taylor, 6-4, 295, DL, South Bend, Ind. (Saint Joseph HS/Iowa Central CC)
Nate Shaw, 6-1, 205, LB, Bettendorf, Iowa (Bettendorf)
Tavaughn Blair, 5-10, 175, DB, Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins HS)
Charles Brown, 5-10, 175, DB, Fort Meyers, Fla. (Fort Meyers HS)
Deiondre’ Hall, 6-2, 170, DB, Blue Springs, Mo. (Blue Springs HS)
Tim Kilfoy, 6-1, 191, DB, Davenport, Iowa (Assumption HS)

Special Teams
Matt Easley, 5-10, 165, K, Newton, Iowa (Newton HS)

Student-Athlete Bios

Justin Black, 6-2, 210, QB, Naples, Fla. (Barron Collier)
Transferred from Port Huron, Mich., to play at Barron Collier for his senior season … three-year starter, throwing for more than 1,000 yards each season … led teams to the state playoffs as a sophomore, junior and senior … ran for 560 yards as a sophomore and over 600 as a junior … first quarterback at Barron Collier in the last 10 seasons to throw for over 1,000 yards … team captain … member of the all-academic team in Michigan prior to moving to Florida … all-area honoree as a sophomore and junior, honorable mention all-conference as a senior … also ran track and played basketball … Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader and youth group mentor.

Tavaughn Blair, 5-10, 175, DB, Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins HS)
Second team all-state defensive back as a senior in 2011 … named first team all-metro and Channel 12 all-metro team as a senior … first team all-conference in the Lakes Conference as a junior and senior … two-year team captain … led the team in tackles a senior and interceptions as a junior … track letterwinner in 2009 and 2010 … honor roll student … high school coach: John DenHartog.

Charles Brown, 5-10, 175, DB, Fort Meyers, Fla. (Fort Meyers HS)
Third team all-state cornerback in 6A as a senior in 2011 … first team all-district as a senior … first-team all-area selection at cornerback as a junior and senior … voted team MVP by his teammates following his senior season … third in the state of Florida in the 400m, clocking a time of 48.84 … 10th in Florida in the long jump with a mark of 22-07.75 … district and regional champion in the 400m.

Kevin Carroll, 6-3, 280, OL, Edina, Minn. (Edina HS)
2011 Minnesota Associated Press second team all-state selection … KARE 11-TV first team all-metro … Star Tribune second team all-metro … Star Tribune all-metro preseason “Dream Team” … all-conference selection in 2010 and 2011 … EHS Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2010 and 2011 … Rivals.com Top 10 Minnesota recruit … ESPN150 Top 8 Minnesota recruit … team captain.

Breion Creer, DL, Shakopee, Minn. (Benilde-St. Margaret’s)
All-conference lineman as a junior in 2010 … academic all-conference pick as a junior … team captain … four-year participant in basketball and track … team MVP in basketball and an all-conference performer in track … active volunteer in the community, serving with Peace Bridge, People Serving People and Feed My Starving Children … son of Joseph Creer and Carmen Phillips … has one sister, Breanne.

Logan Cunningham, 5-11, 180, WR, Arcadia, Ind. (Hamilton Heights HS)
Owns seven school offensive records (career all-purpose yards, career touchdowns, career receiving yards, career receiving touchdowns, career return yards, single-season receiving yards, single-game touchdowns and career interceptions) … all-state selection as a junior and senior … three-time first team All-Mid Indiana Conference … four-time All-Indianapolis Star selection … named team MVP twice … three-time All-Hamilton County … led Hamilton Heights to three playoff appearances … 2,282 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior … also made four interceptions and 40 tackles … owned the longest touchdowns in the state in four different categories for the 2011 season – 98-yard kickoff return (twice), 95-yard rush, 94-yard receiving, 93-yard INT return … 71 career touchdowns … 6,677 career all-purpose yards … led the state of Indiana in kick return and punt return average for three seasons … voted MVP of the Lucas Oil Horseshoe Classic … winner of the Big Orange Award for on-field and off-field work … son of Steve and Lisa Cunningham … has two brothers, Landon and Morgan.

Matt Easley, 5-10, 165, K, Newton, Iowa (Newton HS)
Second team all-state honoree in Class 3A by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Preps … third team all-state pick by the INA … holds school records for most career field goals (18), most field goals in a season (10 in 2011), and tied a state record with four field goals in a game … in his senior season, he was 10-of-15 on field goals, 23-of-24 on extra points, and kicked 23 touchbacks.

Griffin Gaeta, 6-6, 215, TE, Muscatine, Iowa (Muscatine HS)
Three-year varsity letterwinner … second team all-state and second-team all-conference tight end as a junior in 2010 … all-metro team pick at tight end as a senior … won the Tip Willis award at Muscatine HS for outstanding effort … team captain … also a three-year letterwinner in basketball, playing for the Iowa Barnstormers AAU basketball program for three years … three-time state meet qualifier in the high jump, placing seventh as a junior.

Deiondre’ Hall, 6-2, 170, DB, Blue Springs, Mo. (Blue Springs HS)
Honors include first team all-state and first team all-metro … also named to the All-Simone team, which is given to the top players in the Kansas City area … led Blue Springs to a 7-3 record as a senior and was a two-way starter at wide receiver and free safety … despite opposing teams’ efforts to avoid him, Hall finished the season with 52 tackles, eight pass breakups and four interceptions … caught 35 passes for 710 yards and 9 touchdowns as the top offensive weapon for Blue Springs … finalist for the Otis Taylor Award, given to the best receiver or tight end in the Kansas City area … son of Rosie and Clifton Hall.

Trevor Hanson, 6-5, 280, OL, West Des Moines, Iowa (WDM Valley HS)
Elite all-state offensive lineman by the Des Moines Register and first team all-state by the Iowa Newspaper Association … first team all-conference … two-time academic all-conference pick … three-year starter at West Des Moines Valley HS as an offensive tackle … has also been involved in track & field and church youth group … started an automotive detailing business through WDM Valley’s entrepreneurship class … high school coach: Gary Swenson … son of Karin and Rich Hanson.

D.J. Hebert, 6-2, 185, Athlete, Maple Grove, Minn. (Osseo HS)
Played quarterback, safety and wide receiver for Osseo HS as a senior … first team All-Northwest Suburb Conference … All-Channel Twelve … third team All-Metro … offensive MVP and three-year team captain … led team to a share of the conference championship … also first team all-conference and All-Channel Twelve as a junior in 2010 … four-year starter … captain of the basketball team and an all-conference selection on the 2010-11 squad that won a conference championship, region championship and third place at the state tournament … high school football coach: Derrin Lamker … son of Ellen Stewart.

Dustin Ihns, 6-3, 285, OL, Tipton, Iowa (Tipton HS)
Named to the INA all-state third team as a defensive lineman … second team Quad City Times All-Eastern Iowa as an offensive lineman … first team all-district pick on offense … academic all-district as a junior … team captain and team MVP … also won three letters in baseball, two letters in track & field and two letters in wrestling … co-founder of the Strength Club … high school coach: Josh Bahr … son of Patrick and Kelly Ihns … has one sister, Taylor.

Tim Kilfoy, 6-1, 191, DB, Davenport, Iowa (Assumption HS)
Elite all-state pick by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Preps … first-team Class 4A all-state selection by the Des Moines Register, Iowa Newspaper Association and Iowa Sports Network … Quad City Times all-area defensive back and captain of the all-area team … first team all-conference … named MVC Defensive MVP … rated No. 1 defensive back on Rivals pre-season list … selected for Iowa Shrine Bowl … 16 career interceptions – only one short of the Class 4A record … intercepted four passes in the 2011 season, returning all four for touchdowns and a total of 248 return yards … racked up 107 total tackles as a senior, an average of 10 per game … scored 19 total touchdowns … also a first team all-state pick by Iowa Preps and Iowa Sports Network as a junior … second team all-state by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Newspaper Association as a junior … academic all-conference … also played baseball, basketball and track … high school coach: Wade King … son of Tim and Jennifer Kilfoy … has three siblings: Melissa, Allison and MaryKate.

Brett McMakin, 6-4, 215, DL, Overland Park, Kan. (Blue Valley West)
All-state in class 6A as a senior … also all-conference, all-county and all-metro, playing defensive end and tight end … 2010 defensive end MVP at the National Underclassmen Combine and 2011 tight end MVP … all-state, all-conference, and all-county as a junior … holds several high school records including single season tackles (86), fumble recoveries in a game (3) and career tackles … 86 total tackles as junior and 71 as a senior … son of Edward & Lisa Culliton and Matthew & Jill McMakin … has three brothers: Seth, Conner and Cale, and one sister, Beatrice.

Justin Putney, 6-6, 305, OL, Forest City, Iowa (Forest City HS)
Named first team all-state offensive tackle by the Des Moines Register and first team all-state by Iowa Preps following the 2011 season … second team all-state selection by Iowa Sports Connection … third team all-state by the Iowa Newspaper Association … first team all-district … Globe Gazette All-Area Team … 2012 Iowa Shrine Bowl invitee … three-year starter and three-year letterwinner … led FCHS to their first-ever district title and first-ever appearance in the IAHSAA state playoffs … high school coach: Chad Moore … three-time letterwinner in basketball, starting at center his junior and senior year … also participates in band and is a Special Olympics volunteer … son of Ed and Linda Putney.

Robert Rathje, 6-3, 265, OL, Van Horne, Iowa (Benton Community)
Elite all-state offensive lineman by the Des Moines Register as a senior … first team all-state pick by the Iowa Newspaper Association and Des Moines Register … academic all-state honoree by the Iowa Football Coaches Association … as a junior, was selected a first team all-state defensive lineman by the INA and a second team all-state offensive lineman by the Des Moines Register … first team all-district as a junior and senior … team lineman MVP as a junior and senior … high school coach: Clay Andersen … also participated in varsity track & field for four years and varsity basketball for three years … son of Jeff and Tammy Rathje … has three brothers: Matt, Josh and Adam.

Karter Schult, 6-2, 240, DL, Tripoli, Iowa (Tripoli HS)
First team all-state by the INA in 2010 and 2011 … first team all-state by IowaPreps.com in 2011 … first-team all-district pick for three straight years (2009-11) … 2011 National Guard Impact Player of the Year … team captain … second team all-conference pick in basketball in 2010 and 2011 … first team all-conference selection in baseball in 2011 … three-time academic all-district honoree in football … two-time academic all-conference in both basketball and baseball … member of National Honor Society … honor roll student.

Nate Shaw, 6-1, 205, LB, Bettendorf, Iowa (Bettendorf)
Elite all-state linebacker selection by the Des Moines Register … led the state of Iowa in tackles as a junior and senior … broke the Bettendorf HS career tackles record with 384 … Quad Cities all-metro pick … first team all-conference … three-year starter in football … led Bettendorf to a state runner-up finish and a state semifinals appearance … team captain … three-time qualifier to the state wrestling tournament, placing fourth as a junior and sixth as a sophomore … plays guitar in the Morning Star Academy chapel band.

Tyvis Smith, 6-1, 185, Athlete, Davenport, Iowa (Davenport Central)
First team all-state by the Iowa Newspaper Association as a senior … first-team all-metro in the Quad Cities … first team all-conference … racked up 1,810 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns during his senior season … helped Davenport Central to three straight playoff appearances … rushed for 100-plus yards in 14 straight games … third team all-conference as a junior … also played basketball and ran track … high school coach: Mark Roering … son of Tiffany Copling.

Ty Soulek, 6-5, 285, OL, Yankton, S.D., (Yankton)
All-conference at center his junior and senior seasons … all-state defensive tackle as a senior with seven sacks and 47 tackles … named to South Dakota’s Elite 45 team … three-year starter … son of Chad Soulek and Stephani Reinhardt.

Ricky Taylor, 6-4, 295, DL, South Bend, Ind. (Saint Joseph HS/Iowa Central CC)
All-region and first team all-conference defensive lineman following his sophomore season at Iowa Central … led ICCC in sacks as a freshman and finished second in sacks as a sophomore … all-state performer at Saint Joseph HS in South Bend., Ind., as a senior … also earned all-conference honors and played in the North vs. South All-Star Game … set a school record with 16 sacks in a season, earning the school’s Defensive MVP honors … junior college coach: Kevin Twait … high school coach: Kevin Downey … son of Rickardo Taylor, Sr., and Marica Taylor.

Evan Williams, 6-0, 200, RB, Minneapolis, Minn. (DeLaSalle HS/Iowa Western CC)
Attended Iowa Western Community College and will be a sophomore in the fall … second-team all-state selection as a junior and senior at DeLaSalle HS in Minneapolis … played quarterback as a senior and racked up 59 total touchdowns (47 rushing, 12 passing) … 2,301 rushing yards his senior season … 68-of-98 passing for 1,356 yards as a senior … played running back as a junior, carrying 174 times for 2,261 yards and 41 touchdowns … team captain … state champion in the 4x100m relay in 2010 … has clocked times of 10.6 in the 100m dash and 21.7 in the 200m dash … also a 23-foot long jumper … son of Steven and Dana Williams … has one sibling, Taylor … born Sept. 24, 1991, in Chicago.

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