FARGO — North Dakota State announced its signings for the start of the early signing period for NCAA Division I football on Wednesday, Dec. 16., including a quarterback prospect from Omaha, Neb.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Payton also received interest from Power Five FBS schools like Nebraska and Iowa State before he signed with the Bison. He led Omaha Westside to a high school state championship in Nebraska during his senior season.

NDSU announced 24 signings with players from 11 different states.

The class includes multiple local recruits, including West Fargo Sheyenne running back Barika Kpeenu, who was a North Dakota Class 3A first-team all-state selection in his senior season with the Mustangs. Kpeenu rushed for 1,052 yards and 13 touchdowns in his final prep season.

Omaha Westside quarterback Cole Payton has signed to play football at North Dakota State. Kayla Wolf / Omaha World-Herald
Omaha Westside quarterback Cole Payton has signed to play football at North Dakota State. Kayla Wolf / Omaha World-Herald

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Mandan (N.D.) High School defensive lineman Jaxon Duttenhefer was the first verbal commitment in the class, making his decision last March. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Duttenhefer made it official Wednesday. He had 43 tackles during his senior season, including 15 tackles for a loss.

'This is kind of a dream come true," Duttenhefer said Wednesday on the "Hot Mic With Dom Izzo" sports talk show on InForum.com and WDAY Xtra. "It's been a long time coming. If signing day was back in March I would have done it then and there. ... I knew then and there that was my home."

The Bison signed six players from North Dakota.

NDSU also signed Marshall (Minn.) High School wide receiver Bryce Lance, the younger brother of former Bison quarterback Trey Lance, who has declared for the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Bryce Lance was one of five signees from Minnesota. He had 30 catches for 631 yards and eight touchdowns during his senior season.

The Bison also signed players from Wisconsin (3), Iowa (2), Missouri (2), Illinois (1), Nebraska (1), Kansas (1), Texas (1), Georgia (1) and Florida (1). The were 11 offensive players, 12 defensive players and one long snapper in the class.

Below is the list of the complete recruiting class for the early signing period: