D.J. Gnader has one of the tell-tale backgrounds of a guy who loves football.

Now the linebacker continues to impress at Northwest Missouri State.

Gnader comes from a family who loves football.

“My father was a high school coach when I was younger, and he played football and my cousins played football. I started off playing soccer, and I was too aggressive for it, so they signed me up for tackle football at eight. Ever since then, it’s been the love for the game,” Gnader said.

Gnader has also had some inspiration to continue to play the game.

“My cousin passed away when I was a freshman at high school, and he was like a big brother. I always think about him,” Gnader said. “Another person who inspired me is coach Scott Bostwick. He was the one who recruited me and he was like my dad in Maryville. I had a great relationship with him. I was excited to play for him and he was excited to coach me, but didn’t get that opportunity because of my medical redshirt.”

In his 2010 season, Gnader was injured due to a leg injury that gave him a medical redshirt throughout the season.

Under head coach Adam Dorrel, Gnader as had two great seasons.

In 2011, he was the second leading tackler, with a total of 100.

In 2012, Gnader was named second team All-MIAA and finished with a team-high of 96 tackles.

“Gnader’s best attribute is that he runs really well for a linebacker. He’s a pretty good tackler and has good coverage skills. Not a lot of guys have good cover skills, but Gnader certainly does,” Dorrel said.

This season so far, Gnader has 69 tackles, 42 of them being solo, and 27 assisted.

“He’s been real consistent. He plays hard and really enjoys the game. He had a pretty significant injury couple years back and he’s come back from that,” Dorrel added.

While Dorrel is impressed by Gnader’s results, he’s also impressed with the whole defensive side this year.

“I think the thing that makes us pretty good on defense is our depth. A lot of times in Division II football, with limited scholarships, you may not have great depth. You may go from having a senior to a red-shirt freshmen,” Dorrel said.

The total defense for the Bearcats is ranked 7th in DII.

“I think those guys feed off each other because they’re all playing a lot and we rotate a lot of guys on defense. I think it just adds to kids staying focused at practice and then being able to make plays,” Dorrel added.

You can catch Gnader and the Northwest Bearcats as they take on your Missouri Western Griffons on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 2:37 p.m.

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