UND football adapts to the recruiting game, announces recruitment of 22 players
The UND football coaching staff spent a good portion of the offseason searching for new talent to add to the 2016 recruiting class. But unlike years ago, the UND coaches also spent a considerable amount of time recruiting players who had already ...
The UND football coaching staff spent a good portion of the offseason searching for new talent to add to the 2016 recruiting class.
But unlike years ago, the UND coaches also spent a considerable amount of time recruiting players who had already verbally committed to the Fighting Hawks' program.
UND announced a 2016 recruiting class of 22 players, including four walk-ons, on national signing day on Wednesday.
"It was more of an emphasis this year than ever before," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "The landscape in recruiting is that way. We can't turn our heads and deny it. When young men make commitments, others are going to keep recruiting them.
"We don't have that philosophy. We base our recruiting philosophy on our evaluations. We have to understand we're not in control of everyone else's actions."
Schweigert said the recruitment of committed players has escalated the past couple of seasons.
"We get a verbal commitment, and we recruit them like they're not committed," Schweigert said. "That keeps families with you and keeps prospects interested. It's a lot of work, but we're going to continue to do it that way. It's important to maintain that relationship."
Safety Jake Geier, of Andover, Minn., cornerback Evan Holm, of Edina, Minn., and tight end Alex Cloyd, of Omaha, were among the most sought-after players late in the process.
Defensive backs an emphasis
UND's signing class was heavy on defensive backs (five) and offensive linemen (six).
Schweigert said his team sought after size in the defensive backfield to combat the Big Sky Conference's typically potent passing attacks.
"With the league we play in, we needed more depth in our secondary," Schweigert said. "It's a challenge to play corner and safety in our league. They spread you out and get 1-on-1 matchups. We recruited more size, and we didn't ignore the fact they need to run and be athletic."
Safety Jordan Canaday, of New Berlin, Wis., turned down a preferred walk-on offer from Wisconsin.
Cornerback Evan Holm of Edina, Minn., safety Jake Geier of Andover, Minn., cornerback Andre Randolph of Indianapolis and Tim Ryan of Huntley, Ill., round out the defensive back recruits.
"We think Evan has really good cover skills," Schweigert said. "Andre is an athlete who played quarterback at a high level in Indianapolis."
UND opts to bring in one QB
UND's recruiting class featured just one quarterback in walk-on Ben Bolinske from Minot.
Schweigert was high on the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Bolinske.
"We're excited to have Ben commit to us," Schweigert said. "He's come to our camp two years. We like his skills and his intangibles. The big thing is he wants to be at the University of North Dakota. That's really important."
Schweigert said the staff stuck to its original plan of not bringing in a scholarship quarterback in this class.
UND returns starter Keaton Studsrud, who will be a junior in the fall. Senior-to-be Ryan Bartels is expected to backup Studsrud, while Brad Heidlebaugh will also be in the mix.
Heidlebaugh, a multi-sport athlete out of Rugby, N.D., redshirted this past season.
The staff has moved former starting quarterback Joe Mollberg to tight end.