UPDATE: UND's 2012 football recruits reflect passing game emphasis

UND announced its 2012 football signees on Wednesday, and it was no surprise that quarterbacks and wide receivers were the targets of the program's coaching staff.

UND football

UND announced its 2012 football signees on Wednesday, and it was no surprise that quarterbacks and wide receivers were the targets of the program's coaching staff.

Quarterbacks and receivers could be the future difference makers for UND as the program joins the offensive-minded Big Sky Conference this season.

UND announced the addition of 24 players, three of them transfers. Of the 24, six were quarterbacks and wide receivers.

"We had to fill some voids and quarterback, obviously, was the No. 1 situation to be addressed," UND coach Chris Mussman said.

UND finished 8-3 and earned a share of the Great West Conference title last season but the program now heads to the more established Big Sky -- a league that has produced six national Division I Football Championship Subdivision champions and is known for its offense.


Two of UND's quarterback recruits have solid credentials -- Braden Hanson, a transfer from North Carolina, and Joe Mollberg, a high school senior at Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Hanson, who has graduated from North Carolina and now is working on his MBA at UND, has one season of eligibility remaining and appears to be on track to be the starting quarterback when the season opens Aug. 30 against South Dakota Mines.

"Braden is a very mature kid," Mussman said. "He's done things the right way. He hasn't upset the apple cart. He's respectful of the guys currently in the program. He knows he has his work cut out for him and he knows he has to earn the starting spot."

At one time, Hanson was the 18th-ranked high school quarterback in the country. At North Carolina, he played behind T.J. Yates, now the starter for the Houston Texans. Last season, he was beaten out late in fall camp for the starting job.

"Now, he just wants a chance to play," Mussman said.

Mollberg is a multi-sport athlete at Detroit Lakes, where is he on pace to become the high school's leading career scorer in basketball.

But UND has big football plans for the 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior.

"Joe was our No. 1 priority coming into the recruiting season," Mussman said. "He has been for the last year-and-a-half. The kid is the complete package coming out of high school. Obviously, he'll have to start over when he gets to college. But he understands what he's up against and he's looking forward to being the face of the program in the future."


The three receivers UND signed all are 6-3 or taller. Height was a priority in landing wide receivers, Mussman said.

Greg Hardin and R.J. McGill have been UND's top receivers the last two seasons. But UND has lacked size on the perimeter, and 6-3 Anthony Fletcher of Goodyear, Ariz.; 6-3 Zach Oliver of Omaha, Neb.; and 6-4 Kenny Golladay of Chicago may become the players in the future that could give UND some good matchups in the red zone.

"We have guys like Greg and R.J. in the slot that can get open," Mussman said. "But we have to have (taller) guys on the edge that we can match up against cornerbacks. We think we now have guys in the program that have the range to do that."

UND also signed five linebackers as it will continue to run its linebacker-friendly 3-4 defensive alignment in the Big Sky.

UND recruited players from 11 states -- five from Illinois.

Mussman said UND will continue to recruit the Midwest, along with its continued efforts in the West.

"The Midwest is our base but we'll continue to recruit out West," Mussman said. "I like to use the metaphor, "If there is Coke and Pepsi in the (Midwest), we're the Dr. Pepper or Mellow Yellow. How do we present something different to the region as the University of North Dakota. I take that on as a challenge and it's going to be exciting to present that to (future recruits) as we progress in the Big Sky."

UND added four players from North Dakota -- Mandan defensive back Devin Coyle, Harvey tight end Tucker Nordby, Mott tight end-fullback Tanner Vesledahl and Mandan linebacker Jake Watson.


Coyle, Vesledahl and Watson are preferred walk-ons.

Mussman said recruiting still continues and that there could be a few more North Dakotans on the Green and White roster in fall camp.

Nelson reports on sports.

Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send email to .

UND 2012 football recruiting class

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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