So Northern Iowa is 2-4 after a brutally tough six-game opening stretch. The Panthers opened the year by dominating a Big 12 team (Iowa State), but have fallen four times since, by a combined total of just 17 points.
The Panthers' recruits are hardly concerned. They've seen that UNI is just a hair away from 6-0 against a challenging Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule, and think the final five games (and their futures as Panthers) will be positive.
"They have no easy games on the schedule," current UNI recruit Jared Brinkman told HERO Sports. "In the Valley you can't take any team lightly."
Brinkman is a UNI football legacy. He's a 6-foot-1, 285-pound bowling ball of motion at the defensive tackle position. His father, Mike Brinkman Sr., played on the defensive line for the Panthers, and his brother Jake is currently on the North Dakota State roster. His mother Carla was also a track star at Western Illinois–so if any family knows about FCS football and the Valley, it would be Jared's. It was an easy call for Jared to pick UNI over offers from schools like Army and Western Illinois.
Linebacker Brock Hadachek (6-4/200) and defensive end Austin Schirck (6-5/250) had options too, but like the idea of staying in-state just like Brinkman. Both Iowans chose the Panthers in August, and they're not concerned at all about the record of the program. They've seen what UNI is capable of.
"They did well on the recruiting class of 2016, in my opinion," Schirck told HERO Sports. "They captured a lot of talent and actually stole some great players who could have been FBS football material. I feel like the class of '17 will definitely be a big impact on FCS ball. UNI will be bouncing back."
Hadachek has been wowed by his trips to see UNI. FBS programs like Air Force and Eastern Michigan had offered him, along with FCS football programs like Montana State and South Dakota, but to him it was a no-brainer.
"The atmosphere on game day is amazing, I love the community of Cedar Falls," he told HERO Sports. "Coach (Mark) Farley and his staff are a great group of coaches and I am excited to play for them. The coaches make me feel like they truly want to see me shine on and off the field. With that being said, all of the schools that offered me were full of amazing people. I'm truly grateful to have been given all of these amazing opportunities and in the end I pray for God to guide me in my decision making and he led me to UNI."
In many ways, Northern Iowa is just getting started with recruiting. Look for its momentum to ramp up in the next few months.