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UND FOOTBALL: Big class in a small window

Most years, UND football coach Bubba Schweigert plans to narrow his recruiting efforts to specific areas of need.

However, this recruiting season — Schweigert’s first as UND’s head coach — the staff tossed out a wider net and went after the best athletes available.

The approach raked in 26 recruits during national signing day on Wednesday — an impressive total for a recruiting window of just more than a month for the new staff.

The class includes 21 players who signed national letters of intent, while five of the players are preferred walk-ons.

“We’re very pleased with the numbers we were able to sign,” said Schweigert. “Initially, I thought if we got 15 that would be pretty good.”

But Schweigert’s expectations changed as he hired a staff with local knowledge, as well as other position coaches with strong ties outside of the usual recruiting footprint.

“Three or four of us could recruit without a GPS,” Schweigert said. “I didn’t do that for the last six years at Southern Illinois. But I came back home here and drove right to the schools. I met with coaches that I knew who I could trust their references and their info.”

Schweigert was complimentary of his staff in putting together a class of this size with the late start to the recruiting season.

“You’ll see a real energetic staff,” he said. “Sometimes I think young and hungry is better than old and complacent.”

UND’s class includes nine from Minnesota, five from Wisconsin and two from North Dakota.

The group was heavy on offensive linemen (four), defensive lineman (four) and defensive backs (four).

Schweigert said his defensive philosophy is to emphasize speed over size.

“I think we move pretty well because that’s what we look for,” Schweigert said. “(At Southern Illinois), we had the smallest defense in the conference two years ago and were a dominant defense. Speed bails you out. You’re going to make mistakes, but if you can’t recover you’re in for a long day. We want to play fast.”

The recruiting class has a number of players with the potential to make an impact immediately, Schweigert said.

“This class can be very special,” he said. “And I don’t care about the initials behind your name. I don’t care if you’re a senior or a junior or a sophomore … if they can play, we’ll play them.”

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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