On national signing day for high school recruits of NCAA members, (from left) seniors Matt Buford, Nathan Cato and Matt Jacobs -- starters for out-going Owls head coach Paul Thomas (right) -- are headed to Division II MIAA programs.
Buford and Cato are going to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, while Jacobs signed a letter-of-intent with Truman State University in Kirksville.
Jacobs, the son of Charles and Loreen Jacobs, led Marshall in rushing the past two seasons -- twice voted all-NCMC and all-Central Missouri and earning Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association all-state honors as a junior. During those campaigns, he carried the ball 622 times for 3,061 yards and 27 touchdowns. He plans to major in accounting.
Cato has also made the all-conference and --district teams twice, also being named to the Missouri Football Coaches Association all-state team last year. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive lineman, the son of Cliff and Sheila Cato, anchored the blocking unit for Jacobs. Last year Cato -- who wants to major in physical education -- led the Owls' defensive linemen with 54 tackles, 12 for losses.
Buford was an all-NCMC and --district wide receiver, catching 20 passes in 2009 for 363 yards and four TDs. The son of Terry Butler and brother to former Marshall player Michael Baker, Buford is a two-time conference 100-meter dash champion who hopes to study electrical engineering.
The Griffons (9-3, 6-3 MIAA) tied for second in the league standings to Division II national champion Northwest Missouri State last season, while the Bearcats (2-9, 1-8) shared the cellar.