CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - One day in February college football takes the spotlight across the nation for national signing day. The University of Northern Iowa made a splash across the state signing 23 new student athletes to the roster for the 2013-2014 season, including 13 players from the state of Iowa.
"It's always important to recruit in your state and have a basis of players from in-state. That's how we've built this program," coach Mark Farley said on Wednesday. "That's what keeps the program where it is."
Included in the 23 additions to UNI are six transfers - including former University of Maryland Terrapin Makinton Dorleant. Dorleant played in all 12 games for the Terps and was ranked as the No. 43 safety in the nation by Scouts Inc. coming out of high school.
"A lot of times players will contact us, and if there's a need or fit we'll pursue the opportunity. Very few times do we pursue, but this is one of the few times we actually did," Farley said about the transfer.
The Panthers' signing day ended with eight offensive players, 12 defensive players and five athletes.
"It's just balance," Farley said. "We took four offensive linemen and three defensive linemen. On the transfer side we took defensive players because we've got an immediate need there with the age of our football team. We've really balanced our age of the classes."
"If any of the players that we took today can play then we'll play them. It'll still come down to two-a-day camp. If they can play and compete for next season then they'll have the opportunity to do so."
The Panthers may have also found a replacement for senior running back Carlos Anderson with the signing of Kansas City native J'Veyon Browning. Browning set the school record at F.L. Schlagle High School by recording over 2,000 all-purpose yards in two consecutive seasons. The running back was named the KCK Preps Player of the Year in 2012.
"I'm just looking for him to come in and perform. He's got great breaks. He's very athletic and has great speed. We'll put him at a position where we can get him on the field the soonest," Farley said.
Although 23 scholarships were handed out today, UNI may not be finished adding players before the beginning of next season.
"I recruit every day of the week. There's still room (to add more players). If the right situation presents itself, we'll definitely pursue it and see if we can have them join our team."
Reggie Schulte, the 2012 Gazette/KCRG 'Offensive Player of the Year,' will attend the University of Northern Iowa and join the football team as a preferred walk-on.
Schulte set 18 school passing records this fall as Cedar Rapids Xavier went 13-1 and advanced to the Class 4A state final.
He passed for 2,501 yards and 40 touchdowns last season, 4,002 yards and 54 TDs in his career.