National Signing Day, Feb. 2022: Western Illinois Leathernecks

The first recruiting class by new head coach Myers Hendrickson and his staff includes 17 new additions to the roster. (Photo by

By Dan Verdun

Myers Hendrickson, a former Western Illinois player, announced the first recruiting class as head coach at his alma mater Wednesday.

Hired in December, Hendrickson and his staff inked 17 players they believe will retool the Leathernecks after WIU won just four games in the last three seasons — including last spring’s schedule cut short by COVID-19.

“We are extremely excited about this special group. I am thankful for the great support of our administration and athletic staff, as we worked to bring in this outstanding signing class in a short period of time. I am very proud of my staff who hit the ground running and have worked tirelessly to build this class,” Hendrickson said on

Henrickson racked up a 30-4 record, which included two Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) championship titles at NAIA Kansas Wesleyan prior to his return to Macomb.

Hendrickson played receiver at WIU from 2009-11 when his father Mark was the Leathernecks’ head coach.


“We had great visits on campus and that allowed us to get to know these student-athletes on a personal level through this process, beyond just what they can do on the field. They are invested in being Leathernecks, and I am very excited that they are joining our Leatherneck family.

“The talent in this class is incredible. This group will be able to come in and not only lay a great foundation for success for the future of Leatherneck football, but also have opportunities to make an immediate impact. We are still recruiting, and we will continue to add to the Leatherneck family. This is certainly a great start and a great day for Leatherneck Football.”

— Myers Hendrickson

What positions do they play?

Last fall, the Leathernecks boasted a passing offense that averaged 301 yards per game. However, record-setting quarterback Connor Sampson and his top three receivers were all seniors.

Yet, WIU struggled to run the ball consistently, which often put the offense into third-and-long situations and ultimately wore down its defense in the time of possession battle.

Perhaps with this in mind, Hendrickson’s staff attempted to have balance in its inaugural class. WIU signed four offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three defensive backs, three wide receivers, two linebackers, a running back and a quarterback.

Where are they from?

Western’s recruits hail from Illinois (5), Georgia (4), Iowa (3), Missouri (3), Oklahoma (1) and Louisiana (1).

“We put a strong emphasis on recruiting the Midwest, especially in our backyard. Along with our success recruiting heavily in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, we were able to add great players from different pockets of the country where we had strong connections and relationships,” Hendrickson said.

What accomplishments do they bring?

Four are listed as multiple-sport athletes . . . one (Yaser Alawadi) is listed as a three-star recruit by 247Sports . . . another (Byron Jarrett Jr.) was honored with National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) First Team All-America recognition . . . four appeared rated by MaxPreps in their home state rankings.

Recruit list (courtesy WIU Athletics)

Yaser Alawadi, OL, 6-8, 320, Park Ridge, Ill. (Maine East)

Almarion “Mari” Bell, DL, 6-3, 280, Rockford, Ill. (Harlem)

Ryan Crandall, LB, 6-2, 205, Ankeny, Iowa (Ankeny)

Carter Gorder, OL, 6-4, 290, Mason City, Iowa (Mason City)

Tre Henry, DL, 6-3, 285, Lake Charles, La. (Lake Charles College Prep / Highland CC)

Byron Jarrett Jr., QB, 6-4, 235, Des Moines, Iowa (Hoover / Iowa Central CC)

Myles Johnston, WR, 6-1, 185, Morris, Ill. (Morris Community)

Mitchell Logan, WR, 6-3, 190, Springfield, Ill. (Springfield)

Tah-jae Mullix, DL, 6-3, 250, Covington, Ga. (Newton)

Kamal Mukarram, DB, 6-1, 185, Tinley Park, Ill. (Lincoln-Way East)

Wyatt Newcomer, OL, 6-2, 285, Kansas City, Mo. (Liberty North)

Montarious Reed, DB, 6-1, 195, Covington, Ga. (Newton)

Tajh Sanders, WR, 6-0, 180, Valdosta, Ga. (Valwood)

Caden Selle, OL, 6-3, 270, Hannibal, Mo. (Hannibal)

Eli West, DB, 5-11, 170, Albany, Ga. (Dougherty) 

Lesharo Wildcat, LB, 6-4, 220, Pawhuska, Okla. (Pawhuska)

Wentric Williams, RB, 6-0, 195, Liberty, Mo. (Liberty)

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