Five Palmyra football players under coach Kevin Miles have signed to continue their careers at Northwest Missouri State.

Kevin Miles is not employed by Northwest Missouri State University, but he could be.

The Palmyra football coach has built a strong relationship with the Division II football powerhouse over the years. That relationship just became stronger earlier this month when Class 2 all-state linebacker Peyton Plunkett committed to the Bearcats.

Plunkett, who in addition to all-state honors was also named the Clarence Cannon Conference Defensive Player of the Year, is the fifth Panther player to sign with the Bearcats under the guidance of Miles. 

According to Miles, Plunkett was heavily recruited by Quincy University, which is also a Division II program and only 20 minutes away from home.

So what makes a school four hours away from home so appealing? 

The Bearcats have won a total of six national championships, with the last coming in 2016. They have also captured 28 conference championships.

But Miles mentioned there is one more factor.

“They are really just a really, really big family oriented program,” the Panthers coach said. “They don’t sugarcoat things and they are tough, but they really promote and sell the family atmosphere.” 

Plunkett is not the first player local programs like QU have missed out on. 

“Coach Bass does a good job of coming and recruiting our kids, but unfortunately he always loses out to Northwest,” Miles said with a chuckle.

Another reason why Palmyra players like to choose Northwest over other programs is because the way they go about the whole recruiting process. Miles pointed out not all programs will put in the time and come and watch his players in person.

Northwest does.

“Coach (Charlie) Flohr will come and watch us two or three times a season when he can,” the Palmyra coach stated. “While programs like Truman State and Culver-Stockton College won’t come visit. They will call or email to see if we have any kids, but they don’t want to give our kids the common courtesy to come visit in person.

“I always chuckle because here is Northwest, one of the best football programs in the country and they want my kids, but most of the more local schools want to come visit.” 

The first Palmyra player, under the guidance of Miles, to commit to NWMS was Bobby Grunleoh. 

The defensive end was named as a team captain for the Bearcats this past season as a senior. He finished his career at NWMS as a three-year starter and a 2-time national champion (2015, ‘16). 

In the 2016 national championship game, Grunleoh recorded three tackles and a sack.

This past season, the lineman finished with 25 tackles, with 8.5 tackles for a loss including 4.5 quarterback sacks.

“Bobby was probably our most recruited kid we have had here,” Miles stated. “He was getting a lot of looks from some DI schools like Western (Illinois) and Illinois State. And ever since then, they (NWMS) have been coming to visit us every year looking at our kids.”

Miles also mentioned some of the higher level programs did not take losing out on players like Grunleoh too well.

“I had to tell Illinois State to stop calling him,” Miles mentioned. “And they said ‘that’s stupid coach, we are a D-I program.’ And I told them that didn’t matter and that Northwest would probably kick their tails too.”

Miles mentioned another selling point to Northwest is the honesty. 

The Palmyra coach will send multiple players who he thinks could be a good fit with the Bearcats to get a true evaluation. 

“They are honest with me,” the Panthers coach said. “They are straight shooters and it gives us an idea of where the player can go. I would love for all my players to go there if they could.” 

With the players Miles has sent to NWMS over the years in addition to other players in the area he has put on the Bearcats radar, Miles has earned the respect of the Bearcats coaching staff.

“It helps when you send good players like Bobby and Ben (Althoff) and guys like that,” Miles said of the respect. “Anytime we talk they always ask (in addition to our) guys if there are any other guys we have noticed from other teams. They will also ask opinions on players, like what kind of guys they are other than just their stats.”

And Miles holds the Bearcats in the highest regard as well.

“To me, Northwest is the pillar of college football for the size of program,” the Panthers coach said. “And you cannot doubt what they have done on the field with all the national championships. The guys there are just some good down to earth fellas. They are not car salesman, they are straight shooters who are not afraid to sit down with mom and dad and answer the tough questions. They have a good system and it’s why they have been so successful.”