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UND FOOTBALL: UND's highs and lows

New UND football coach Chris Mussman wrapped up his first recruiting season Wednesday by signing 16 players. It's a class he's happy with, considering he took control of the Sioux program in the middle of the recruiting season - a two-month perio...

New UND football coach Chris Mussman wrapped up his first recruiting season Wednesday by signing 16 players.

It's a class he's happy with, considering he took control of the Sioux program in the middle of the recruiting season - a two-month period that usually plays a major role in the success of a program.

His first recruiting season as a head coach, not surprisingly, had ups and downs because of the coaching change and UND's transition from Division II to Division I. One result of that uncertainty?

Four players who reportedly committed to the Sioux changed their minds.

The four went to other schools. One recruit decided to play at Southern Illinois, where former Sioux coach Dale Lennon is in charge.

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"I can't concern myself with the kids who don't want to be here," said Mussman, who succeeded Lennon on Jan. 4. "I have to concern myself with the players who want to be here. The guys we signed are guys I think the university and community will be proud of."

Commitments losing

their oomph?

With UND's move to Division I, recruiting will be more competitive, even to the point where commitments may not mean as much.

"It's happened on occasion in the past," Mussman said, referring to a recruit de-committing. "But we have to anticipate that as we make the transition to Division I."

UND didn't comment on any of the players who may have committed to the Sioux before heading to other programs.

Players who reportedly gave UND verbal commitments but were not on the school's list of recruits were Dan Edem, a tight end from Shoreview, Minn.; Kyle Cavil, a defensive lineman from Ashwaubenon, Wis.; Chris Tracy, a running back from West Lyon, Iowa; and Jason Obarski, a kicker from Burnsville, Minn.

Edem went to Northern Illinois, a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision program that plays in the Mid-America Conference. Cavil signed with Southern Illinois, Tracy with South Dakota State and Obarski with North Dakota State.

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The head coach at Northern Illinois is Jerry Kill, who left Southern Illinois in December. "As a new staff takes over, they have to scramble sometimes and take kids they normally wouldn't take," Mussman said.

Mussman said he and his staff learned some valuable lessons during their first venture into Division I recruiting.

"If a young man commits, and we're not real sure on that commitment, we'll keep on recruiting that position until we're sure of it," Mussman said. "We have to have a base of talent from which we can recruit."

Mussman said the verdict on UND's newest recruiting class won't be known for a while.

"We're never going to claim victory on the recruiting trail," Mussman said. "You win on the field. You have to develop these kids so that when their time comes, they're ready to play."

Reach Nelson at 780-1268, (800) 477-6572 ext. 268 or wnelson@gfherald.com .

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