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UND recruits lined up to play in North Dakota Shrine Bowl

Although some coaches bar their players from suiting up in all-star games, Fighting Hawks head coach Bubba Schweigert said it's an important experience.

100519 S GFH GFCFOOTBALL SamStrandell01.jpg
Knights wide receiver Sam Strandell braces for impact with the Fargo South defense while running the ball during a home football game.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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MAYVILLE, N.D. — The day before Bubba Schweigert played in the North Dakota Shrine Bowl all-star football game, he and his teammates took a bus to the Twin Cities.

They visited the Shriners Hospital there.

"I'll remember that experience forever, and the reason they play the game," said Schweigert, now UND's head football coach. "Visiting the hospital really left an impact on me personally in life. It was very emotional to go to that hospital as an 18-year-old kid, seeing people walk for the first time, seeing how hard they've worked and how motivated they were to become mobile and overcome unfortunate circumstances."

That's one reason why Schweigert, in an era where many college football coaches ask their incoming prospects to stay away from playing in all-star games, is letting his entire crop of North Dakota recruits play in this weekend's Shrine Bowl.

All five North Dakotans in this year's UND freshmen class will participate in the event, which is scheduled for Saturday at Jerome Berg Field in Mayville.

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The 11-man game between East and West all-stars will be played at 4 p.m. The 9-man game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Grand Forks Central's Sam Strandell, Grand Forks Red River's Paine Parks, Thompson's Josh Yon and Lisbon's Caleb Olson will play for East in the 11-man game. Their future Fighting Hawks teammate, Lucas Schweigert of Bismarck Century, will play for West in the 11-man game.

All five of the incoming freshmen are preferred walk-ons.

"They're all great kids," coach Schweigert said. "We're happy to have them. What I really love about the walk-ons is they really want to be at the University of North Dakota. They chose us and we chose them — we only have so many spots. But these are guys that come here and they all have something to prove. They want to earn on a spot on the team and earn a scholarship. These guys are really good fits for our program. They're very good students and we think they're good football players."

Strandell is projected to play wide receiver at UND, Yon will play fullback, Parks is an inside linebacker and both Olson and Schweigert will play on the defensive line.

Preferred walk-ons usually don't see early playing time, but Schweigert didn't close the door on anything.

"Recruiting is not an exact science," he said. "It's an educated guess, the way we look at it. You do a lot of evaluating. But until you get here, you really don't know how hard the guys are going to work and how they're going to stick with it day after day. A lot of times, these guys will move up faster than you think, because they have that desire and something to prove."

UND's coaching staff was attracted to the fact that all five are multi-sport athletes. Schweigert touted their recent performances at state track — Schweigert placed in discus, Olson in the shot put and Yon ran relays.

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"We're big on guys playing multiple sports in high school," Schweigert said. "We love it. Multiple-sport athletes seem to develop into really good football players."

Now, they'll narrow their focus on football beginning with Saturday's Shrine Bowl, their last action before reporting to campus in August.

"I think it's great (that they're playing)," Schweigert said. "I know some programs don't allow them to be in all-star games. But I think to allow young people to be young one last time, and to play with some of the guys they competed against in high school, and to play with guys from different divisions — and for the reason they play the game — is great."

2022 N.D. Shrine Bowl 11-man game

When: 4 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Jerome Berg Field, Mayville.
How to watch: YouTube .
Local-area players: Sam Strandell, GF Central (UND commit); Paine Parks, GF Red River (UND commit); Garrin Sattler, GF Red River; Barrett Willison, Hillsboro-Central Valley; Jace Leshuk, Hillsboro-Central Valley; Parker Gallagher, Hillsboro-Central Valley; Caleb Schneider, Devils Lake; Esgar Rios, Grafton; Josh Yon, Thompson (UND commit); Alex Erickson, Harvey-Wells County.

2022 N.D. Shrine Bowl 9-man game

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Jerome Berg Field, Mayville.
How to watch: YouTube .
Local-area players: Aiden Churness, Clearbrook-Gonvick; Austin Rygg, Hatton-Northwood; Blake Jacobsen, Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page; Cody Reamer, Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page; Haiden Huchka, Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page; Brysen Cleem, Cavalier; Caden DeMars, Cavalier; Demetrius Avila, Cavalier; Trevor Hinkle, Cavalier; Cade Stein, Nelson County; Calahan Forde, Nelson County; Garrett Haakenson, Nelson County; Eli Bjornstad, North Border; Jaxen Johnson, North Border.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTSUND FOOTBALL
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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