After Northwest Missouri State's 2012 season concluded with a double overtime second round playoff loss to Minnesota-St. Mankato, the transition into 2013 began almost right away.
On the following Monday morning, head coach Adam Dorrel was back in the office, formulating recruiting plans and launching initial preparations for the upcoming season.
"You don't have any time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself," said Dorrel. "It's time to get to work."
Northwest's earliest playoff exit since 2004 provides the Bearcats with a longer off-season than usual.
And for the coaching staff that means additional time to be out on the road recruiting leading up to to National Signing Day, Feb. 6, 2013.
"The years we went to Alabama and came back, I always thought we were very far behind in recruiting," said Dorrel. "I don't know if we ever got our best classes because you're so far behind. I think naturally it's easy for people to say 'well, you win a national championship, you're going to have a great recruiting class.' I disagree with that wholeheartedly. The people that get good recruits are the one's that work at it and work hard. Our staff, we had a great recruiting class last year, and I'm very confident with the number of scholarships we have available, we're going to have another great recruiting class."
While declining to reveal specifics, Dorrel says they plan to address targeted needs through junior college recruiting.
On the high school level, he says they'll recruit almost every position.
The graduation of 18 seniors and 10 starters leaves Northwest with significant holes to fill.
On offense, Northwest loses All-MIAA all-purpose back Jordan Simmons, All-MIAA left tackle Rod Williams, second team All-MIAA receiver Tyler Shaw and top third down target John Hinchey.
Simmons and Shaw were each four-year contributors and tied for the team lead in receptions as seniors with 54. Hinchey ranked fourth in that department.
The defense has to replace three first All-MIAA selections—defensive tackle Travis Chappelear, linebacker Collin DeBuysere safety and Nate DeJong—along with starting defensive tackle Ryan Meyer, starting safety
Clarke Snodgrass and starting linebacker Matt Massey.
Additionally, the Bearcats graduate three-year starting kicker Todd Adolf, a first-team All-MIAA selection.
Dorrel said Simmons, Shaw, Williams and Chappelear are all receiving NFL interest.
Northwest should be able to withstand most of those departures with 11 starters and several key back-ups returning from a 10-3 team.
The Bearcats appear to be in good shape at every position on offense but receiver.
Returning quarterback Trevor Adams just completed his first full-year as a starter, but essentially has two years of starting experience under his belt at this point after filling in for Blake Christopher as a sophomore.
Page 2 of 2 - He threw for 2,515 yards, 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this year in 11 games.
Waiting in wings are redshirt freshman Brady Bolles and true freshman Kyle Zimmerman.
James Franklin III, who missed almost the entire post-season but still led the team in rushing with 723 yards, should assume the feature back role now that Simmons is departing.
The Bearcats have plenty of capable options behind with him with Billy Creason, Kohlman Adema-Schulte, Denver Lohnes and redshirts Justin Fulks and Phil Jackson III remaining on the roster.
Northwest returns four of five starters on the offensive line, not counting junior C.J. Keeney who suffered a season-ending knee injury in week two.
Dorrel says Keeney, a Smithville native, will be ready in time for spring practice and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Left tackle is the only vacant spot, with left guard Jake Scarbo, center Cole Chevalier, right guard Cody Carlson and right tackle John Petroff all returning.
Bryce Young is the team's top returning wideout with 36 catches and two touchdowns this year. Other returners Jason Jozaites, Dearis Flint and Clint Utter combined for just 13 catches, making this a position Northwest will likely try to upgrade.
Joel Gantz is back at tight end after splitting time with senior Vinny Defeo this year.
Northwest's defense, which gave up the fewest points, fewest yards and caused the most turnovers in the MIAA, has at least one starter back at every level.
Matt Longacre, the team leader in sacks and tackles for loss, and end Ricky Bailey give Northwest two returning starters on the front four. Key reserves Brandon Yost and Zach Williams could fill the spots of Chappelear and Meyer.
Leading tackler D.J. Gnader is the only returning starter at linebacker. Back-ups Eric Reimer and Jayron Robinson, who blocked three punts, are primed to take over the two vacant spots.
Northwest retains the twin corner tandem of Brandon and Brian Dixon. Both nabbed five interceptions in their first year in the MIAA.
Two new starting safeties are all that's needed.
One potential replacement is Travis Manning who started eight games at safety while Snodgrass was injured this year.
Jared Fox, a special teams contributor, might be the other starter.
Northwest's No. 1 priority on special teams is developing a new kicker to replace Adolf.
The only two listed on the roster are true freshmen Ben Trewyn and Austin Weaver.
Northwest is set at punter for the next two years with first team All-MIAA selection Kyle Goodburn being just a sophomore.