Signing day ’23: Western Illinois welcomes two transfer quarterbacks to fall mix

Fans at Hanson Field in Macomb will see 29 new players in the fall after two national signing days this off-season. (Photo by Barry Bottino)

By Barry Bottino

Western Illinois started three quarterbacks last season, then lost two via the transfer portal.

This week, the Leathernecks restocked their quarterback room with a pair of transfers on the Feb. 1 signing day.

Northern Iowa transfer Matt Morrissey played in five games over the past two seasons as a reserve. His biggest success was in 2021 at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, where he earned juco All-America honors by passing for 13 touchdowns and more than 1,500 yards in just eight games.

Morrissey played high school football at Montini Catholic in Lombard, which is the same high school as new WIU offensive lineman Jeremiah Banks-Wall, who started 13 games at left tackle for FBS Bowling Green in his career before entering the transfer portal.

The Leathernecks also added QB Nathan Lamb, a transfer from College of the Sequoias in California.

The February signing day featured eight new signees for the Leathernecks, who signed 21 players in December.

Two junior college linebackers from California schools also were part of the February class. They will join a group of seven linebackers signed by the Leathernecks in December.

New offensive coordinator

WIU head coach Myers Hendrickson announced Feb. 1 that the Leathernecks have hired Pat Denecke as the team’s new offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.

Last season, he coached the offensive line at FCS Valparaiso. The Beacons’ running game was highlighted by running back Aaron Dawson earning first-team All-Pioneer Football League honors last season while rushing for 1,204 yards, the second-best single-season total in school history.

Denecke spent six seasons at the University of Maine, where he most recently served as assistant head coach and run game coordinator during the 2021 season.

He also spent two years as a graduate assistant coach at FBS Nevada.

February Signing Day List 2023

Full Name, Position(s), Height, Weight, School, Hometown

Matt Morrissey, QB, 6-5, 220, University of Northern Iowa, Elmhurst, Ill.

Jeremiah Clements, DT, 6-4, 340, Peoria Manual High School, Peoria, Ill.

Nathan Lamb, QB, 6-4, 220, College of the Sequoias, Tulare, Calif.

Amari Thigpen, DB, 6-0, 175, Liberty High School, North Liberty, Iowa

Peyton Bradford, LB, 6-2, 230, Modesto (Calif.) Junior College, Oakdale, Calif.

Jared Wade, 6-1, 215, LB, City College of San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Jeremiah Banks-Wall, OT, 6-5, 295, Bowling Green, Lombard, Ill.

Mayo Bola, DL, 6-2, 270, College of DuPage, Carol Stream, Ill.

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