UND football adds 28 signings to class
GRAND FORKS - Last year, University of North Dakota football coach Bubba Schweigert held the first meeting with his new staff on Jan. 15, giving the coaches about three weeks to put together the 2014 recruiting class.
GRAND FORKS – Last year, University of North Dakota football coach Bubba Schweigert held the first meeting with his new staff on Jan. 15, giving the coaches about three weeks to put together the 2014 recruiting class.
Schweigert announced the 2015 class of 28 new players on Wednesday, and the occasion had a different feel this time around.
“It’s different because we were able to develop relationships with families and prospects,” Schweigert said. “We were able to evaluate for a longer time, and we were able to see these kids in camps – both on our campus and other campuses.”
Of UND’s 28 additions on National Signing Day, seven of the players are preferred walk-ons. Six of the signees are North Dakota natives, including three on scholarship. The North Dakota additions are Rugby’s Brad Heidlebaugh, New Town’s Elijah Grady, Dickinson’s Carter Blackwell, Fargo Davies twins Aidan and Tristan Hartness and Bismarck’s Luke Keller.
During the 2014 season, UND played 11 true freshmen. Schweigert said he expects the new class to battle for playing time, as well.
“During our last visit with these guys, we told them to come to fall camp like they’re playing,” Schweigert said. “That’s the mindset we want. We feel a number of these players can contribute to our program right away. Our returners know that all of our positions are open.”
Boost from Canada
After a few quiet years from north of the border, UND’s latest recruiting class is heavy on Canadians. UND signed four players from Canada, including three from Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg natives are running back Brady Oliveira, defensive end Mason Bennett and offensive lineman Zack Williams. Edmonton’s Troy Hansen, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound linebacker, is also signed to play at UND.
“It makes sense for us,” Schweigert said. “We’ve had lots of good players from Canada, going back to the 70s, 80s and 90s. It’s been good for us for a number of years, and we have lots of good contacts up there.”
UND’s latest successful Canadians include defensive back Donovan Alexander (2004-07), punter Brett Cameron (2010-14), linebacker Curtis DuBlanko (2007-10) and wide receiver Ismael Bamba (2008-09).
Focus at wide receiver
During UND’s last game of the season at Northern Colorado, UND traveled with only four wide receivers.
Clearly, wide receiver was a recruiting focus this offseason.
UND already had added two wide receivers during the semester break as transfers. Iowa Western’s Alex Reed and University of Arizona’s Clive Georges are already enrolled at UND.
UND also added four more wide receivers in this recruiting class. Tim Dulin (Livonia, Mich.), John Santiago (St. Francis, Minn.), Blackwell and Tristan Hartness are expected to join the returning crop of receivers.
“Santiago is a big-play guy out of the Twin Cities,” Schweigert said. “Tim brings some size.”
Santiago, who is 5-9 and 170 pounds, was one of 10 finalists for the Minnesota Mr. Football Award. He was second-team all-state after rushing for 1,859 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior.
Dulin is a taller target at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. He had 51 catches for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.
Notes and quotes
E Schweigert on the emphasis in North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada: “The best fits for us are the guys who see snow. It snows in Grand Forks. We don’t keep that a secret. Well, it doesn’t this year, but …”
E Schweigert on the large number of North Dakota recruits: “Their upside is really big. I have a special spot in my heart for kids in this state, as a North Dakota 9-man kid myself. They’re going to develop a lot with a position coach and full-time strength coaches.”
E UND addressed size in the secondary with this class, an area of emphasis for the staff. “Size really helps,” Schweigert said. “One area where we were challenged was jump balls on third down. That’s what offenses do in the Big Sky. They just throw it out there. If you’re 6-2, you got a better chance than a 5-10 guy.”
UND’s 2015 recruiting class
Mason Bennett, DL, Winnipeg, Man.
Carter Blackwell, WR, Dickinson, N.D.
Bryce Blair, OL, Greenwood Village, Colo.
Tyus Carter, DB, Greenwood Village, Colo.
Tim Dulin, WR, Livonia, Mich.
Carl Engwall, DL, Lakeville, Minn.
Elijah Grady, OL, New Town, N.D.
Steve Greer, DL, Ballwin, Mo.
Troy Hansen, LB, Edmonton, Alb.
Brad Heidlebaugh, QB, Rugby, N.D.
Robert Hilton, DB, Moreno Valley, Calif.
Jade Lawrence, LB, Moorhead
Justus Merz, OL, Eudora, Kan.
Brady Oliveira, RB, Winnipeg, Man.
Keelan Poole, LB, Aurora, Colo.
Donnell Rodgers, LB, Woodbury, Minn.
Patric Rooney, OL, St. Louis Park, Minn.
John Santiago, WR, St. Francis, Minn.
Iwarri Smith, DB, Farmington Hills, Mich.
Jeremy Webb, DB, Lincolnshire, Ill.
Zack Williams, OL, Winnipeg, Man.
Logan Alm, DL, Hawley, Minn.
Austin Gordon, RB, Maple Grove, Minn.
Aidan Hartness, QB, Fargo Davies
Tristan Hartness, WR, Fargo Davies
Luke Keller, TE, Bismarck
Ted Nelson, DL, Brainerd, Minn.
Tanner Palmborg, DB, Princeton, Minn.