Marian Central QB Cale McThenia sees recruiting interest take off

Marian Central's Cale McThenia throws a pass during a non-conference football game Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, between Marian Central and Johnsburg at Marian Central High School.

Marian Central junior Cale McThenia has long thought about what it would be like when colleges contacted him about playing football.

Still, what he envisioned could not compare to the moment when the University of Northern Iowa extended the Hurricanes quarterback his first NCAA Division I offer last month.

“Ever since I got the first offer, a lot of other things have been rolling in. It doesn’t feel real,” McThenia said. “Everybody always told me I could do it. I knew I could, but I didn’t really believe it until I got the offer. "

McThenia (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection last season as a junior after throwing for 2,554 yards, which was second in the area, without the benefit of any playoff games.

McThenia completed 55.9% of his passes and had 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He also led the Hurricanes with 393 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

“I told [McThenia] I expected that around the signing day for the Class of 2023 things should start picking up,” Hurricanes coach Liam Kirwan said. “About mid-January, we started feeling a lot of interest from Missouri Valley and [Mid-American Conference] schools. Even one Big Ten [Rutgers]. He’s had some interest and had some guys out here to watch him throw and learn more about him.

“A couple weeks ago he got his first offer, from Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley, and when one takes a nibble other schools jump in as well. North Dakota State, Northern Illinois are in. Kind of exactly where I expected him to be at this point. Hopefully more to come.”

McThenia has visited Ball State, Iowa State, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa and Western Michigan. He wants to make visits to North Dakota State, Cincinnati and Rutgers.

McThenia will have his top two targets returning for his senior season this fall: Christian Bentancur and Rylan Dolter. Bentancur caught 54 passes for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns; Dolter grabbed 42 passes for 548 yards and four scores.

Bentancur just committed to Clemson after a hectic recruitment process in which he had 38 D-I offers. He offered some advice to his teammate about recruiting.

“He just told me not to change my routine, keep my head down and do the same thing I’ve always been doing,” McThenia said. “If you stay the same guy you were after you got your first offer, more will pour in and it won’t get to your head.

“It’s a lot, but it’s cool and everything. It’s worth it.”

McThenia is finishing up the basketball season, where he and Bentancur lead the Hurricanes in scoring at 21.3 (Bentancur) and 18.2 (McThenia) points per game. McThenia is closing in on 1,000 career points. He has 948 heading into the postseason.

The spring and summer should be a busy time for McThenia, with coaches coming to Marian to see him throw and one-day camps at colleges, where there often are numerous other schools who come to evaluate.

“I think regardless of how many offers he has, he’ll still hit the camp scene because there are some teams that – even if he has offers from MAC schools – if he has an opportunity to get a Power Five, it’s something he should do,” Kirwan said. “Either way, I think he’ll go out and compete this summer at camps and try to get to places where he thinks he had a legitimate shot.

“His quick release is the thing you see when you see him play. A natural, quick release. He’s a deep-ball thrower. When you have that and a top recruit as a pass catcher [in Bentancur], it makes things pretty nice for the coach. For someone his size, he moves pretty well with the ball, and anytime you can do that at the high school level, it makes for bigger headaches all the way around.”

McThenia is eager for the coaches to come to Marian and scout him.

“I have a lot of coaches coming to see me throw at the school,” he said. “I’ve been talking to a lot of coaches. They like to come see you throw live.

“I’ve been working hard my whole life for it. But I told myself I didn’t want to force it. If it happens, it happens. Just keep the same work ethic and keep striving.”