The Northwestern College football team adds 16 recruits on a very busy National Signing Day for head coach Kyle Achterhoff and his coaching staff. The 2013 recruit class now totals 20, with four players already committing to Northwestern.
“Signing day is a great way to start solidifying the 2013 recruiting class,” commented head football coach Kyle Achterhoff. “This is a very talented group and over the next few weeks, we will add 10-15 or more guys making this class as strong as any we have had at Northwestern.”
Three players who starred for Spirit Lake High School signed to play football at NWC: Rick Maris (Okoboji, Iowa), Casey Spaeth (Spirit Lake, Iowa) and Nicholas Amundson (Arnolds Park, Iowa). They all helped lead the Indians to a 13-1 record and the class 2A state championship. Spirit Lake is coached by former Red Raider defensive coordinator, Josh Bolluyt.
A 5’10”, 185-pound linebacker, Maris earned first team all-district honors for the third straight year. He totaled 56 tackles, seven for a loss, two sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Maris played a key role in a Spirit Lake defense that surrendered just over 10 points per game. He holds the career-record for forced fumbles. An outstanding student who earned academic all-state honors, Maris is a member of the National Honor Society. He is the son of John and Amy.
“Rick is a high energy football player who fits our defensive system really well at the ‘dog’ position,” commented Achterhoff. “Rick knows the system really well having played for Coach Bolluyt and that knowledge of the defense will help him make an immediate impact for our team.”
Spaeth is a 5’8”, 155-pound wide receiver/defensive back who earned second team all-state and first team all-district honors. He led Spirit Lake with 28 catches for 513 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging over 18 yards per catch. Defensively, Spaeth totaled 22 tackles and ranked second on the team with four interceptions. He also averaged over 33 yards on kick returns and scored one touchdown. Spaeth plans to major in business at Northwestern College and is the son of Chris and Michelle.
“Casey is a very dynamic open field runner who excels as punt/kick returner,” commented Achterhoff. “He will play wide receiver for us and we look forward to Casey being a Red Raider.”
A 6’0”, 185-pound defensive back/wide receiver, Amundson earned third team all-state honors and all-district accolades. He totaled 20 tackles and a team-high six interceptions, scoring one defensive touchdown. On offense, Amundson recorded seven catches for 134 yards and three scores. Amundson plans to major in athletic training at Northwestern and is the son of Paul and Pam.
“Nick has good size for a corner and is a physical football player,” said Achterhoff. “Like his teammate (Rick Maris), Nick will benefit from playing in Coach Bolluyt’s defensive system.”
Jay Elsberry (Orange City, Iowa) is a 5’9”, 170-pound wide receiver/defensive back and kick returner who lettered three years for the MOC-Floyd Valley High School football team. Elsberry led the Dutch with 23 catches for 447 yards and four touchdowns, averaging over 19 yards per catch. On defense, he registered 27 tackles and led the team with four interceptions. Elsberry earned first team all-district honors and helped lead his team to a playoff berth and 5-5 record. He plans to major in pre-physical therapy at Northwestern. Elsberry, who also plans to run track at NWC, is the son of Mel and Julie.
“Jay has been around the Red Raider football program for his entire life and its great to have him step into the role as a Red Raider,” commented Achterhoff. “He has great hands and an outstanding knowledge of the game.”
Rafael Sanchez (Orange City, Iowa) is a 5’8”, 190-pound kicker who also played for the MOC-Floyd Valley football team. A three-year letter winner, Sanchez made 4-of-5 field goal attempts, with a long of 33-yards, and converted 15-of-17 extra points. He averaged 45 yards per kickoff attempt and recorded three touchbacks. Sanchez, who will also play soccer for the Red Raiders, plans to major in accounting at Northwestern. He is the son of Gumaro and Maria.
“Rafael has been a very consistent kicker at MOC-Floyd Valley,” commented Achterhoff. “He has good leg strength and we think Rafael can compete to be our starting place kicker next fall.”
J.C. Koerselman (Boyden, Iowa) is a 6’2”, 190-pound multi-sports star who lettered two years for the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley High School football team. Koerselman posted a team-high 18 catches for 433 yards and four touchdowns, averaging over 24 yards per catch. He earned first team all-district honors as a receiver and helped lead the Nighthawks to an 11-1 record and berth in the state quarterfinals. On defense, Koerselman earned all-Northwest Iowa Review honors after totaling 51 tackles and two sacks at defensive end. He plans to major in business at Northwestern and is the son of Bob and Laura.
“We are really excited to have J.C. join the Red Raider football family,” commented Achterhoff. “He is an extremely hard worker who plays the game fast and with a lot of passion. J.C. is a great athlete and we are anxious to see what impact he will have at the tight end position.”
Miguel Alvarado (Hull, Iowa) is a 5’7”, 185-pound running back/linebacker who also lettered for the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley football team. Alvarado earned second team all-state honors after leading the Nighthawks with 89 tackles, six for a loss, and one sack. On offense, he earned first team all-district honors, rushing for 763 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He also posted 10 catches for 164 yards and three scores. Alvarado plans to major in sociology with a criminal justice concentration at Northwestern. He is the son of Arturo Alvarado and Crystal Uvieta.
“Miguel is a solid young man who can contribute in a variety of ways with our football team,” commented Achterhoff. “He will be a solid defensive player at the ‘dog’ position and a great teammate. We look forward to watching Miguel make a positive impact on our team and campus community.”
Mitchell Lensch (Glidden, Iowa) is a 6’2”, 205-pound running back/linebacker who played three years for the Glidden-Ralston High School football team. Lensch earned first team all-state honors after rushing for 2,308 yards and 42 touchdowns while recording 81 tackles on defense. He helped lead his team to a 9-3 record and state quarterfinal berth. Lensch earned second team all-state honors as a junior and was named first team all-district two years. He plans to major in Actuarial Science at Northwestern and is the son of Barb Lensch and Kreg Lensch.
“It is great to have another Lensch brother come to Northwestern,” said Achterhoff. “Mitchell has had an outstanding high school career and we look forward to having him as a Red Raider. He has a nose for the football and is a very physical football player.”
Paul Hutson (Logan, Iowa) is a 6’3”, 218-pound running back/linebacker who played four years for the Logan-Magnolia High School football team. Hutson rushed for 1,933 yards and 27 touchdowns, averaging over 10 yards per carry, in leading his team to the state semifinals and an 11-2 record. He earned first team all-state honors for the second straight year and was named honorary captain for the Omaha World Herald class 1A and 2A team. Hutson holds the school’s career rushing record and has earned a total of 14 letters at Logan-Magnolia. A member of the National Honor Society, Hutson plans to major in business/criminal justice at Northwestern. He is the son of Kelly and Fran.
“Paul is an outstanding athlete who will be able to do a number of different things for us on offense,” commented Achterhoff. “He will be a running back who can also move out of the backfield and be a pass-catching threat as well as an able blocker. Paul is an outstanding leader, both on the field and off, and we are excited that he is going to be a Red Raider.”
Tate Kellenberger (Larchwood, Iowa) earned three letters playing for the West Lyon High School football team. A 5’11”, 275-pound offensive/defensive lineman, Kellenberger earned first team all-state honors as senior and first team all-district honors as a junior and senior. He helped pave the way for a West Lyon offense that totaled 3,546 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns, averaging seven yards per carry. Kellenberger was part of a Wildcats team that finished 9-2 and lost in the state quarterfinals. An honor roll student, he plans to major in education at Northwestern. Kellenberger is the son of Ladell and Shelly.
“Tate has been part of a great high school program at West Lyon,” commented Achterhoff. “He knows what it takes to win football games and will add depth along our offensive line.”
Tanner Webster (Lincoln, Neb.) is a 6’1”, 270-pound offensive lineman who lettered three years for the Lincoln Southeast football team. Webster earned honorable mention all-district honors after leading his team to a fifth place finish and a 10-2 overall record. He plans to major in secondary education and is the son of Jeremy Webster and Kristine Pothast.
“Tanner is a nice addition to our offensive line position group,” said Achterhoff. “He has good size and strength for a senior in high school and we look forward to his development as a Red Raider.”
Austin Gafford (Grimes, Iowa) comes to Northwestern after a semester at Des Moines Area Community College. Gafford played two years for the Des Moines Christian football team, totaling 10 tackles and one fumble recovery as a member of the defensive line. He helped lead his team to a 9-2 record as a senior. Gafford is the son of Bradley and LuAnne.
“We are excited to have Austin join the Red Raider football family,” commented Achterhoff. “He is a good athlete and we think he can develop into a leader both on and off the football field.”
Zach Ingram (Colleyville, Texas) is a 6’2”, 280-pound offensive lineman who lettered two seasons for the Grapevine Faith High School football team. A two-year starter, Ingram finished his career with 105 knockdown blocks and was named team co-captain his senior year. A member of the National Honor Society, Ingram received the Leadership Award and plans to major in Business Administration/Sport Management at Northwestern. He is the son of Craig and Nila.
“Zach has nice size for an incoming offensive lineman and is a very physical blocker,” commented Achterhoff. “His style of play fits very well with our offensive scheme. Zach is also a solid student who will make a positive contribution to the NWC campus community.”
Mason Mennenga (Watertown, S.D.) earned three letters playing for the Watertown football team. A 5’10”, 185-pound multi-sports standout, Mennenga started two years at wide receiver and defensive back. Named team captain as a senior, he earned academic all-state honors and helped lead his team to a state playoff berth. He also plans to run track for the Red Raiders. A member of the National Honor Society, Mennenga plans to major in Christian missions at Northwestern. He is the son of Corey and Sheila.
“Mason is a solid player and an outstanding young man,” said Achterhoff. “He is a versatile player who filled a number of different roles for his high school team. We are excited to see Mason develop as a wide receiver.”
De’Arius Mitchell (Greenville, Texas) is a 5’10”, 145-pound defensive back who lettered two years for the Greenville High School football team. Mitchell accounted for a team-high 120 tackles and five interceptions, earning second team all-district honors. He also blocked four kicks and was voted the team’s best defensive back. Mitchell plans to major in physical education at Northwestern and is the son of Darius Mitchell and Takisha Gibbs.
“De’Arius is an aggressive defensive back who makes up for his size with his aggressive play,” commented Achterhoff. “We look forward to watching De’Arius mature as a player and as a young man at NWC.”
Tyler Eisensmith (Tahlequah, Okla.) is a 6’2”, 175-pound wide receiver and safety who lettered three years for the Tahlequah High School football team. A first team all-district selection, Eisensmith posted 31 catches for 624 yards and 10 touchdowns. On defense, Eisensmith totaled 53 tackles and four interceptions while also averaging over 34 yards per kick return. A two-time player of the week and skill player of the year, Eisensmith plans to major in education at Northwestern. He is the son of Brandon and Christie Stratton.
“Tyler is a big target at the receiver position,” commented Achterhoff. “He has good speed for his size and can play any of the wide receiver positions. We are also impressed with his ability to block at the position and excited to have him join the Red Raider family.”
In addition to today’s signees, the players listed below have already signed a letter of intent to play football at Northwestern and were announced in an earlier release.
Josh Treybal Linebacker Spencer, Iowa
Levi Letsche Offensive Line Marcus, Iowa
Jordan Lutjens Offensive Line Rock Valley, Iowa
Leandro Peralta Tight End Anchorage, Alaska