Bison unveil football recruiting class, adding 18 players

FARGO - Being the best has a way of intensifying a football recruiting season. North Dakota State won the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national crown in early January, putting the Bison coaching staff in recruiting overdrive ...

Carey Woods
Penny and Carey Woods Sr. watch as their son Carey Woods Jr. signs a letter of intent to play football at North Dakota State University on Wednesday afternoon in Bemidji. Monte Draper / Forum Communications Co.

FARGO - Being the best has a way of intensifying a football recruiting season.

North Dakota State won the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national crown in early January, putting the Bison coaching staff in recruiting overdrive over the past month.

"You're not sleeping very much and you are in a lot of different cities and a lot of different homes and you are trying to do the best that you can," NDSU head coach Craig Bohl said.

The Bison announced 17 signees and one recruited walk-on on Wednesday's national signing day.

While most FCS schools had the majority of, if not all of, December to hone in on recruiting, NDSU had to balance its efforts while making a national title run.


"It's a challenge when other schools are in their home and you're game planning," Bohl said. "Sometimes that is a little bit of a disadvantage. But we think we closed the gap pretty well."

The Bison finished with a balanced class with nine players projected to play offense and nine on defense. NDSU landed players from seven different states, including four from North Dakota.

The Bison went big with their signings from North Dakota. Jack Plankers is a 6-foot-7, 290-pound lineman who played for Kindred High School. Plankers is slated to play offensive tackle. Landon Lechler, a 6-7, 250-pounder from Beach, is also projected to play offensive tackle.

"The tackle bodies are hard to find," Bohl said.

NDSU inked three wide receivers - Carey Woods from Bemidji, Minn., DeSean Warren from Overland Park, Kan., and Demitrius Gray from Aurora, Ill. Bohl said wide receiver is a position that could see incoming freshmen push for playing time.

"Even though we've got some good young players at that spot, we're pretty doggone thin," Bohl said. "A receiving position, it's typically a position where young guys can come in and help you right away."

NDSU beat Sam Houston State 17-6 on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas, to win the program's first Division I national championship.

Bohl felt that exposure helped NDSU land players from outside the region.


"Around our area I think people are very familiar with North Dakota State," Bohl said. "But when we got in the outlying areas like Arizona, Nebraska and some of those areas, Illinois, it certainly had a big, big impact."

The Bison secured three players from Arizona, three from Nebraska, two from Kansas and one from Illinois.

The Bison class included a handful of players who were also considering Football Bowl Subdivision options.

For example, Marcus Brantley, a safety from Mesa, Ariz., visited Boise State over the weekend.

Brett Pierce, a defensive tackle from Bloomington, Minn., had a preferred walk-on opportunity at the University of Minnesota.

Bohl said that made the week leading up to signing day "nerve wracking."

"If you get everybody, particularly after coming off a national championship run ... you are not recruiting the right guys," Bohl said. "You've got to push the envelope. We pushed the envelope on a lot of really excellent players. Not all of them jumped in the boat here, but that's OK. We got the ones we wanted to get."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.


Peterson's blog can be found at

  • LANDON LECHLER, OL, 6-7, 250, Beach, N.D. (Beach H.S.)
  • JACK PLANKERS, OL, 6-7, 290, Leonard, N.D. (Kin-dred H.S.)
  • MJ STUMPF, OLB, 6-2, 200, Harvey, N.D. (Harvey H.S.)
  • ANDREW SMITH, FS, 6-0, 187, Sioux Falls, S.D. (Roosevelt H.S.)
  • ZACK JOHNSON, OL, 6-5, 315, Apple Valley, Minn., (Eastview H.S.)
  • BRETT PIERCE, DT, 6-4, 260, Bloomington, Minn. (Academy of Holy Angels)
  • ZACH RIOPELLE, OLB, 6-2, 205, Warren, Minn. (Warren-Alvarado-Oslo H.S.)
  • CAREY WOODS, WR, 6-0, 180, Bemidji, Minn. (Be-midji H.S.)
  • SAM HAHN, OL, 6-6, 265, DeWitt, Neb. (Tri-County H.S.)
  • BO LIEKHUS, FS, 6-0, 205, Plattsmouth, Neb. (Bellevue West H.S.)
  • DEREK McGINNIS, QB, 6-3, 200, Crete, Neb. (Crete H.S.)
  • CHUKS AMAECHI, DE, 6-2, 215, Avondale, Ariz. (Westview H.S.)
  • MARCUS BRANTLEY, S, 5-10, 180, Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain H.S.)
  • AUSTIN FARNLOF, DT, 6-2, 270, Cave Creek, Ariz. (Boulder Creek H.S.)
  • DEMITRIUS GRAY, WR, 6-3, 200, Aurora, Ill. (Wau-bonsie Valley H.S.)
  • JACOB DAVIS, ILB, 6-2, 230, Wichita, Kan. (North-west H.S.)
  • DeSEAN WARREN, WR, 5-11, 165, Overland Park, Kan. (Blue Valley West H.S.) Recruited walk-on

  • JUSTIN ARP, TE, 6-4, 220, Cogswell, N.D. (Sargent Central H.S.)
Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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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