JOPLIN, MO (SNS) – More athletes will be on Missouri Southern teams this fall thanks to a new recruitment effort by the Athletics Department and the Office of Admissions.

This year’s total number of Missouri Southern football players is 141, compared to 101 last year.

“Having more guys out there will help with many things,” said MSSU Head Football Coach Denver Johnson. “Most of these players will redshirt this fall. Some will play, but just having the numbers speeds up practice and provides depth not only for the varsity squad but also for the scout team.”

A total of 37 total soccer players will be turning out this season, compared to just 18 the year before.

“My reasoning for having a larger roster is two-fold,” said MSSU Head Soccer Coach Chris McNaughton. “Injuries occur in college athletics and having a larger roster will allow us to absorb any injuries we incur and continue training and competing.”

An increase in the number of student athletes has a positive impact on the university’s overall enrollment, said Derek Skaggs, director of admissions.

“They often bring another student or two along with them,” said Skaggs. “The Lion Pride Tuition area has created more opportunities for students from Texas, Illinois and other states in the region to attend college. Admissions is working closely with Athletics on this recruitment effort.”

Athletics is routinely the “front porch” for many colleges, said Director of Athletics Jared Bruggeman.

“It’s no different here and one of our obligations to the university is to drive and grow enrollment. With the tremendous growth seen on the Missouri Southern campus – from the new residence hall complex and medical school partnership to the renovations and addition to Reynolds Hall – we’re excited about this opportunity to add more than 60 new students,” he said.

“They want to be part of the collegiate experience, and so we’re expanding opportunities to have more athletes. While the number of athletic scholarships is not increasing, many of these students already qualify for other forms of financial aid. And if they prove themselves on the field, they’ll wind up getting athletics scholarships.”

Missouri Southern will open its football season at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at Fort Hays State in Hays, Kan. The Soccer Lions will present a home exhibition game against Drury at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at Hal Bodon Field.