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Dragons coach Laqua says early D-I signing day clears up Division II picture

Minnesota State Moorhead head football coach Steve Laqua. David Samson / The Forum

MOORHEAD—In some ways, the new early NCAA signing period for Division I football made things easier for Minnesota State Moorhead head coach Steve Laqua.

While the Division II football signing period is still starts in early February, Wednesday's early D-I signings provides some clarity with recruiting.

"I think the good thing is it clears the picture up of what is kind of left out there," Laqua said. "Kids that think they may be going to a higher level, kind of know for sure now."

The two area Football Championship Subdivision programs, North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota, announced the signings of a combined 43 players on the first day of the new early period, which runs through Friday.

The Bison signed 24, while the Fighting Hawks added 19. Laqua said the Dragons currently have 25 commitments.

"Which is way more than we've had at this point than ever before," Laqua said.

Laqua said he thinks the early Division I signing day has made players commit earlier at the D-II level, even though those players can't officially sign until Feb. 7. The Dragons had around 15 commitments by the end of November. In the past, five commits would have been "extremely good" before December, Laqua said.

Now the Dragons are playing the retention game.

"I think it's really difficult that we don't have a signing day today," Laqua said. "It's like we are left out of the party, so to say. Personally, I hope D-II passes that. We have to recruit (our recruits) for another six weeks and they've already been committed. ... If we had the signing day, we could be in pretty good shape to be done. We've got to make sure that they stay committed."

So while a number of Division I programs have signed a good portion of their recruiting classes in this early signing period, they still can add to those classes during the regular period in February.

That's one concern for Laqua. FCS programs could bolster their classes by adding walk-ons during the regular period, players that may have already committed to D-II programs.

"They can now spend a lot of time of preferred walk-ons," Laqua said. "I think that's the downside for the next month or six weeks."

However, Laqua doesn't believe the early signing period is a bad thing for the most part.

"I think it's a little bit too early to tell, but overall, I think good," he said.

Concordia head football coach Terry Horan said it's too early to tell how the signing-period changes trickle down to Division III, which doesn't offer scholarships.

The Cobbers generally don't release their entire recruiting class until May 1 after incoming players have signed their admission letters to the school. Concordia usually has 40 to 60 players in a recruiting class, Horan said.

"For us, the jury is still out I guess. Kids are making decisions a little bit earlier," Horan said. "From our standpoint, we'll have to see how it all pans out. ... Right now, it's business as usual is what we're seeing. Time will tell."

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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