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UND football: Detroit Lakes prize recruit gives verbal to Sioux

The biggest win for the UND football team this weekend might not have been the 53-19 victory over Black Hills State in the Potato Bowl.

The Sioux coaching staff was also likely celebrating the verbal commitment of one of the most sought-after recruits in the region.

Detroit Lakes quarterback Joe Mollberg confirmed Sunday that he verbally committed to UND after the Sioux victory in the Alerus Center on Saturday.

"UND feels right," said Mollberg, who chose the Sioux over offers from North Dakota State and South Dakota State. "It's a great place. I love the atmosphere and the coaches. I know some of the players, and I love the direction they're headed in."

The commitment is significant, considering the Sioux haven't won many head-to-head recruiting battles with their former North Central Conference mates since moving up to the Division I level in 2008 -- due in part to the NCAA sanctions placed on transitioning programs.

Mollberg's commitment, though, arrives with an asterisk. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior is still waiting on a potential offer from the University of Iowa.

"I'm still talking to Iowa," Mollberg said. "They're calling once a week. They're still there and UND knows that."

Mollberg said Iowa is showing interest in three quarterbacks. Due to an injury Mollberg suffered in a preseason scrimmage, the Hawkeyes wanted to see game film of Mollberg on a healthier ankle.

"I'll send them game film of the last two weeks, and they'll probably offer a quarterback within a month," said Mollberg, who pegged his recovering ankle at 80 percent. "You have no idea what they're thinking because they're one of the best teams in the country. They can tell you anything. If (an Iowa offer) doesn't happen, I'm very happy at UND."

At the FCS level, Mollberg's decision came down to the Sioux and the Bison.

"Both are great schools; there's a lot of football tradition there," Mollberg said.

Mollberg, who passed and ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, said the current quarterback situations at UND and NDSU didn't play a role in his decision.

UND didn't have a quarterback in its 2010 recruiting class -- the Sioux brought in junior-college transfer Joey Bradley.

NDSU, meanwhile, features sophomore starter Brock Jensen. The Bison also have brought in highly-thought-of Bismarck quarterback products Esley Thorton and Carson Wentz in back-to-back seasons.

"Many people say (the differing quarterback situations affected the decision), but honestly it was more of the school and the atmosphere and the feeling I had about each place," Mollberg said.

UND's 27-22 loss to Fresno State two weeks ago made an impact.

"I watched the whole game," Mollberg said. "It showed me how competitive UND is right now. I like the direction they're headed. They'll go special places. They're not at the same level as NDSU right now, but a few more of the right guys and UND can do some good things."

Mollberg said he grew up with exposure to both Division I North Dakota programs.

"I've been a fan of the Mankes at UND, but I went to NDSU games when I was little also," Mollberg said. "It was a tie between the two when I was younger."

The Detroit Lakes' Manke brothers -- Rory, Reed and Ryan -- each played for the Sioux in the past decade.

Mollberg characterizes his style as a dual threat.

"I believe at 6-3, 210, I do move real well," Mollberg said. "I can scramble out of the pocket. I also believe I can sit in the pocket and hit all the throws. I think I can do different things that UND would ask of me."

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

(701) 780-1121