CEDAR FALLS — It may not have been the season the University of Northern Iowa was expecting, but after winning their final three games, the Panthers have built momentum heading in to the offseason.
UNI finished the season with a 5-6 record, losing five of its first six games, but after seeing the FCS playoff pairings, Coach Mark Farley knows it would’ve taken more than an extra win or two to reach the postseason. “I say it takes eight wins to get in,” Farley said. “You look at our schedule, and we would have had to win the league to get in this year as things played out. It’s interesting.
“That’s somebody else’s problem right now. I’m going recruiting. We’re going to try and put a strong football team together and move from there.”
The Panthers graduate 16 seniors, including five defensive starters and three starting offensive linemen.
“We thought we had our best scout team offensive line that we’ve had in a long time,” Farley said. “We know spring ball is where you develop your linemen. They don’t just walk in and play for you. We’ve been fortunate with some of those players who graduated because they were three year starters for us.Now we have to find that next two or three year starter.”
Besides the offensive line, UNI seems to have many of those multiple year starters in place. Sawyer Kollmorgen, who has been namedNewcomer and Freshman of the Year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and David Johnson will both try to repeat their strong outings as underclassmen.
The only starting wide receiver to leave the team is Terrell Sinkfield, who led the team in receptions this season.
“I think you need to take the best players in our state, no matter what position they play, then you find a place for them to play,” Farley said about his recruiting style this offseason. “We’ll look at the core of our team and try to surround them with good football players. We’ll build around that group to make them a stronger group.”