The Missouri Western athletic department held their annual national signing convention on Feb. 7 at Spratt Memorial Stadium, where both the football and women’s soccer team announced a grand total of 53 new recruited athletes. Football added 38 new players to their roster, 31 being high school graduates and seven being transfer students.
The total amount of new players is only down three from last year’s 41, which equals a pretty consistent pair of years for head coach Matt Williamson and his staff. The new class of 38 had to replace 17 departing seniors. This year’s class holds 16 offensive recruits and 17 defensive recruits.
Williamson said that it is tough to predict the amount of players a team would get on both sides of the ball.
“There’s no way you know what you’re going to get,” Williamson said. “It was weird how it worked out and how even it was. I thought, in the long run, that we would have a few more defensive signees because we had a bit more money there. We did a good job with recruiting and being able to break some of the scholarships up.”
One of the transfers from last season was now senior quarterback Dom Marino from East Central Mississippi Community College. After original starting senior quarterback Skyler Windmiller went down with a broken collarbone in the very first game, Marino would take control of the team and would end up having an up-and-down season. Marino led the team to a 4-2 record before being sidelined with a staph infection. Marino would come back later in the season and finish with 15 total touchdowns, nine passing and six rushing. He also threw for 883 yards and ran for 518 more.
With three new quarterbacks being added to the roster, Williamson says no one’s spot is guaranteed.
“We told them all that we want a difference maker, we want someone who is going to compete and challenge others,” Williamson said. “Everyone has to earn their position, even if you were a starter last year. I looked Dom right in the eye and said ‘You’re going to have to earn your position back because Wyatt Steigerwald is going to come and try and get it.”
Steigerwald, junior, is transferring from Northern Oklahoma A&M. He threw 32 touchdowns last season and passed for 2,744 yards.
With football being consistent in their recruiting numbers, women’s soccer matched their consistency with 15 new recruits, three more than they had last year. The team had eight departing seniors, and were able to nearly double that number with the number of new recruits. The team had its best year to date as they went 17-5. These 17 wins were a school record, as well as the 51 goals the ladies scored. Western also made it to the NCAA Regional
Round of the national tournament for the first time in program history. With all these accolades, head coach Chad Edwards expects his new recruits to feel the pressure.
“Yeah, they better feel some pressure coming here,” Edwards said. “There’s going to be pressure coming into the college level and playing for a program like ours.”
To the best of both coaches knowledge, no current athletes from either of their programs plan on leaving the team.
This coming season will be Williamson’s second season as head coach for Western. He and his staff will try to build off a 4-7 record in his first campaign. Meanwhile, Edwards will be entering his eighth season as head coach. He will look continue his winning ways as he is the all-time wins leader for women’s soccer with 58 victories.