Expect a bright long-term future for WSC football

Austin Svehla, Reporter

After an NSIC rule change that allows schools to increase football scholarships from 24 to 36, the Wayne State administration and Director of Athletics Mike Powicki saw this as a chance to increase the talent pool brought to Wayne State. Following a disappointing 3-8 2018 season, the WSC coaching staff’s attention quickly turned to the 2019 season and beyond.

“In Division II football, the maximum is 36 scholarships for football,” head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “The Northern Sun limited football scholarships to 28, but we were limited to 24. Last year, the Northern Sun voted to go to 36 scholarships.”

After the NSIC made the decision to increase the scholarship limit for schools within the conference, Wayne State opted to provide more scholarships for the football program in hopes to provide a more level playing field.

“Some schools went to 36 (scholarships) right away,” McLaughlin said. “President Rames and Mr. Powicki told me that we were going to try to get to 30. We recruited with the idea that we were going to have 30 scholarships, so that was an increase. It is certainly a step in the right direction, so that’s certainly a great thing and we’re very appreciative of that.”

McLaughlin believes there is a chance for the scholarship total to increase to 36 in the future but does not know when that would become a possibility. For now, he and his staff plan to take advantage of the increase from 24 to 30 and hope it translates to competitive performance against top teams in the conference and beyond.

As of Feb. 7, McLaughlin and his staff had 36 commitments, including 24 high school student-athletes and 12 transfers, to play football at WSC. Nine of the 12 transfers enrolled at Wayne State at the beginning of the semester. The position breakdown among the commits includes 10 offensive linemen, five defensive backs, four defensive linemen, four linebackers, four athletes and two each at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. The 24 high schoolers in the 2019 class of WSC commits includes six signees from Nebraska, seven from Iowa, nine from Florida and one each from Kansas and Missouri.

“It allowed us to bring in more kids,” McLaughlin said. “It also allowed us to go head-to-head with schools competing for kids that were highly recruited. So, we weren’t necessarily getting outspent by other schools who could simply give more money.”

McLaughlin will enter his 15th season as the head coach of the Wildcats making him the longest tenured coach in WSC history. He and his staff, however, have never had as many resources for recruiting as what they have been given this season. This scholarship increase is certain to provide the football program with an even brighter future than what was previously foreseen. Spring practice is set to begin March 18, with the Spring Game scheduled for Friday, April 19.

“We’re really excited about the class,” McLaughlin said. “We really feel that there are some pieces there that will fit nicely into the product we’re trying to put together here that’s Wayne State football. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do between now and when that first game is in August, but I think the future is certainly bright here.”