QUINCY -- The path makers who opened holes for some of the area's top running backs proved to be a valuable commodity for NCAA Division II football coaches.
Four offensive linemen and one hulking fullback signed national letters of intent Wednesday to join programs in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Quincy University signed three of those players and added two other local recruits as part of a 49-player class.
Signing with the Hawks were Chase Kirby, a second-team all-state offensive lineman who helped Hannibal reach the Class 4 state quarterfinals with a pair of 1,000-yard backs; Jadon Underhill, a two-year starter on the offensive line for Monroe City teams that amassed more than 10,000 total yards the last two seasons; and Quincy High School fullback Garrett Drew, the lead blocker for Jirehl Brock's 2,000-yard campaign. QU also inked Central all-state linebacker Noah Strohkirch and QHS linebacker Cross Ward.
"For us, it's about finding the right guy who wants to be here and be a part of it and say, ‘This is my town. This is my university. I want to be the guy who helps this program turn the corner,'" QU coach Gary Bass said. "The biggest thing I can tell you about the guys we got from this area is they have the right mentality.
"They are extremely mentally tough. They are the old school, bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work guys. They are going to go to work and bring that toughness and work ethic with them from where they've come from."
Two all-state linemen who also fit that bill gave their signatures to Missouri schools.
Quincy Notre Dame's Jonny Bottorff signed with Missouri Western, while Monroe City's Jon Saxbury signed with Truman State. Bottorff was a two-time all-stater who moved to center as a senior to better prepare himself for a college football. Saxbury played both ways for the Panthers, but the Clarence Cannon Conference Defensive Player of the Year will concentrate on defense for the Bulldogs.
It's the second year in a row QU has added plenty of local talent to the roster. The Hawks signed nine players from the surrounding area last year and continue to look for players who fill a need.
"We wanted to make sure we got the right ones who were going to fit in here," Bass said.