By Paul Freelend
High school football and soccer players around the nation signed national letters of intent Wednesday, and UNO was one of many universities loading up on talent.
After National Signing Day passed, 17 football recruits and five junior college transfers joined the Maverick football program, while UNO soccer inked six players to letters of intent.
UNO football head coach Pat Behrns said he was pleased with his 2002 recruiting class and was impressed by their overall level of athleticism.
“This year’s group resembles last year’s in that we have a lot of good athletes,” Behrns said. “Almost all of them are basketball players, track athletes or wrestlers. I feel that this is one of our best recruiting classes ever.”
Football’s signees came from four different states, with 11 coming from Nebraska, four from Iowa and one each from California and Missouri. The five junior college transfers came from California, Connecticut, Minnesota, Georgia and Virginia, respectively. Notable among the in-state recruits were Millard West players Bobby Danenhauer, son of UNO Athletic Director Bob Danenhauer and grandson of former Maverick football coach Bill Danenhauer, and Scott McLaughlin, son of Millard West coach Dan McLaughlin.
Leading soccer’s recruiting class was Omaha Marian goalkeeper Amy Price, who last season established a national high school record for consecutive shutouts with 21 and a state record with two goals allowed all season.
Maverick soccer head coach Don Klosterman said his team’s 2002 recruiting class would go a long way toward maintaining the program’s run of success.
“I think we got a number of good players who are skilled both athletically and academically,” Klosterman said. “I think this year’s group is a step forward in keeping up the tradition of excellence we’ve built in our program’s short history. We want to protect what we’ve built so far and I think this group can help us do that.”
Five of soccer’s six signees are from Nebraska, the sixth being Christen Boeckel of Olathe, Kan. Joining Price and Boeckel will be Stephanie Balkovec, Meghan Pile, Jane Splittgerber and Rebecca Fritz.
Klosterman said that he hoped the level of the Mavericks’ recruits would be able to help avoid having to go through any rebuilding years.
“We set a goal to build on what we already have and to avoid any letdowns down the road,” Klosterman said. “We didn’t want to get stuck having to rebuild after losing our first class of seniors. We looked at the best players in the area in terms of athletic skill, soccer skill, and character and pinpointed those players as far back as last spring and summer. It all came down to today and now they’re here with us.”