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UND FOOTBALL: UND prepares to announce its signing class

At UND’s FCS level, grading recruiting classes is tricky and fairly pointless.

When new head coach Bubba Schweigert announces his first signing class of roughly 25-30 players today, don’t try to evaluate his staff’s work just yet.

UND football’s shortcomings — which eventually led the school to part ways with former head coach Chris Mussman and most of his staff — deal more with retention and development than signing day failures.

In other words, it doesn’t matter who you bring in if you can’t get the most out of them.

Take the 2012 recruiting class, for example. UND announced the addition of 25 high school seniors that year. Just two years later, almost half of the class is no longer with the program.

That isn’t exactly an isolated case. Over the course of the last six years at UND, a lot of talented players haven’t finished out their eligibility for one reason or another.

It’s been an unfortunate run of big-name exits.

In 2008, sophomores Ryan Chappell and Bobby Stroup were dismissed from the team. Stroup was the team’s sack leader, while Chappell led UND with 1,640 yards rushing that fall as the then-Sioux went 10-2 and made a fifth straight appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs.

In 2010, UND had to cut ties with wide receiver Ismael Bamba, the team’s most dynamic player for his two seasons. As a sophomore in 2010, he caught 52 balls for 859 yards and averaged more than 23 yards per kick return.

In 2011, UND cut running back Josh Murray for a violation of team rules — a year after he missed a season for academic reasons. As a sophomore in 2008, Murray led UND with 1,146 yards as he was named to the all-Great West Conference first team.

UND’s roster took another woeful hit this offseason as a horde of players transferred from the program at semester break. The list included the team’s top two offensive threats expected back in wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Jameer Jackson, as well as the defense’s most established player in cornerback Daryl Brown, a three-year starter.

Getting talented players to come to UND hasn’t necessarily been the problem. Extracting the most of their four years has been the larger downfall.

Some departures for a college football program are inevitable, especially during a coaching change. UND’s misfortune the past six years, though, is more high impact than its peers.

It’s not to say today’s recruiting announcement isn’t significant. These young athletes can certainly form the building blocks of a successful program.

However, no amount of highlight videos and high school accolades and statistics released today can tell us if the Bubba era will be any stronger than the Mussman era in the long run.

For that, it’s going to be all about retention and development.

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. 

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