5 things to know about UND football's second signing day

The Fighting Hawks signed for more players during the second signing period on Wednesday.

NCAA FOOTBALL 2022: North Dakota vs Weber State NOV 26
UND head coach Bubba Schweigert and Weber State head coach Jay Hill chat prior to the NCAA FCS playoff football game between the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and the Weber State Wildcats at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, UT on Saturday, November 26, 2022.
Russell Hons / UND Athletics

GRAND FORKS — The UND football program announced four more additions to the 2023 recruiting class on Wednesday during the NCAA's second signing period.

UND signed 28 prospects during the initial signing period in December.

UND's four additions included two from North Dakota and two from Illinois. The North Dakotans are Velva linebacker Payton Bodine and Fargo Shanley wide receiver Vuciri Hakim. The Illinois natives are wide receiver Korey Tai (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and linebacker Emmet Wolf (Park Ridge, Ill.).

Fighting Hawks coach Bubba Schweigert spoke with the media Wednesday afternoon. Here were the five biggest takeaways.

1. Bodine has interesting bloodlines

Bodine, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound preferred walk-on, will come to Grand Forks as his dad Rob did in 1987.


After one season with UND, Rob tried out for the team at Clemson and was a starting nose guard from 1989 to 1991, helping Clemson to a 29-6-1 record in those three years.

As a senior at Clemson in 1991, Rob, a Clemson Hall of Fame member, recorded 27 tackles for loss and was named a first-team All-American.

"Pretty impressive lineage," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "The Bodine family has been a big, athletic family in North Dakota. This young man's best years are ahead of him. We saw him as a junior. He wasn't able to get to camp due to some personal situations and that held back some of his recruiting a bit. He really developed throughout the year. After the first signing day, he was a young man we wanted to get him to campus and show him what it's all about. He has a bright future. The family situation really helps. He's been in a competitive athletic atmosphere for a long time."

2. Recruiting never stops

UND's four additions announced Wednesday are all high school products. Transfer recruiting will continue throughout the spring and summer.

For example, UND didn't receive commitment from Northern Iowa transfer running back Tyler Hoosman last offseason until May.

"We know that high school recruiting is still our primary focus in our program," Schweigert said. "We need to be a development program and do a great job of that. But the transfer portal is part of it. We've been able to take advantage of that. Last fall, it helped us. This spring, it'll help us. Those guys are working out with our team right now. We want to continue to take advantage of the transfer portal. That'll be a continual process. We look forward to adding guys to make our team better."

During the early signing period in December, UND announced Division I transfers Wesley Eliodor (wide receiver, South Dakota), Jake Saltonstall (defensive end, New Mexico State) and Jeffrey Griffin Jr. (nose guard, Northern Illinois).

3. Running back and defensive back are needs

Schweigert was asked about specific positions the program may be targeting via the transfer portal. He pointed to a senior running back to replace Hoosman and help at safety.


At running back, UND returns Isaiah Smith, Luke Skokna and Gaven Ziebarth. Hoosman had 176 of the team's 406 carries and 1,023 of the team's 1,771 rushing yards.

UND lost starting safety Jayson Coley to the transfer portal this offseason. Coley has since signed with Murray State.

"We take a lot of time to build relationships with the portal guys," Schweigert said. "The guys in December, it goes fast. Now, you have more time to develop relationships and find the best fit for your program. Guys have to really want to be here. It's important for the program that we find really good fits. Tyler was last year. Barty Ogbu has been a good fit. There were others, too. The guys here now are blending in and understanding our team culture."

4. Fort recovery on track

UND began the 2022 season with Sammy Fort starting at safety at Nebraska. The converted cornerback went down with an injury against the Cornhuskers and missed the remainder of the entire season.

Schweigert has received positive reports on Fort's recovery.

"Our (physical therapists) have done a great job and they're working with a great young man who wants to get back," Schweigert said. "He's a little ahead of schedule. By summer time, he should be 100 percent."

Fort won't be a full participant in spring ball but might be able to go through some of the mental work.

Schweigert said UND missed Fort's physical play and leadership in 2022.


"He had been lightyears ahead of where he was the previous year in knowing the system and making the checks," Schweigert said. "We really look to Sammy for leadership. We lost that when he was injured. We really like his physical play, and he can teach the younger guys in the program."

5. More contact expected in spring

UND will start spring ball on Feb. 20, which is earlier than many programs. Schweigert said he's been receiving calls from other coaches considering a similar timeline.

"You have a longer period of recovery (if a player is injured) before you start summer training," Schweigert explained. "You want to be at your strongest at the start of fall camp."

But starting camp early isn't completely new for UND. However, Schweigert said he's going to change things up at spring ball this year.

"I think you'll see us really focus on developing younger guys and letting them go live action," he said. "You get three scrimmages and we'll take advantage of that and really let the young guys show what they can do. We have to as good of a job as we can to evaluate our youth and see if they can help us in the fall."

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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