Walthall twins, Spuds talented receiving duo, navigating COVID-19 altered recruiting landscape

Moorhead Spuds wide receiver Brady Walthall is going to have to wait until the spring for his senior football season. David Samson / The Forum


Blake and Brady Walthall attended a football camp at Bemidji State this past Saturday, however, it’s not where the Moorhead Spuds wide receivers expected to be spending the weekend during the fall of their senior seasons.

Minnesota moved the high school football season to the spring due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, forcing players like the Walthalls, with college aspirations, to call an audible on how to navigate the fall with no games.

“We’re going to try to get as many things out there to (college) coaches as possible,” said Blake, who had 85 catches for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns during his junior season.

The Spuds are allowed 12 practices this fall to prepare for the spring and the team is also sending a group of players to a Twin Cities area 7-on-7 camp, which is scheduled to start next weekend. Moorhead head coach Kevin Feeney and his staff plan to use those activities to not only prepare for the spring season, but also help get exposure for the team’s seniors who want to play college football.


Moorhead wide receiver Blake Walthall and the Spuds were poised to have a strong season this fall before the football season was postponed until the spring. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

“We are going to video it all,” Feeney said. “No different than if we were playing football this fall.”

Blake and Brady have received strong interest and offers from multiple schools in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, an NCAA Division II league. They have also garnered interest from a handful of Division I FCS programs. That D-I interest potentially could have been enhanced with strong fall seasons.

COVID-19 disrupted the recruiting process for players like Blake and Brady over the summer with colleges unable to host their summer football camps.

“It’s tough from the standpoint because there was nothing in the summer,” Feeney said. “Typically, those two kids would have had the opportunity to go to camps in June and July and then I think it would have sparked a lot of interest going into a fall season.”

The early signing period for Division I football is scheduled for mid-December with the regular signing period for Division I and Division II slated for early February. Now, the Spuds won’t play their first football game until mid-March after the Minnesota State High School League moved football to the spring.

In addition, Moorhead has aspirations of advancing deep into the Class 5A playoffs after a heartbreaking last-play loss against Elk River in the state quarterfinals last November.


“That’s why it would have been nice to showcase our talents in the fall,” Blake said. “Coaches like to watch film, but it’s really important to see you in person.”

Moorhead wide receiver Blake Walthall (8) and the Spuds were poised to have a strong season this fall before the football season was postponed until the spring. David Samson / The Forum

The Walthalls are both multiple-sport athletes for the Spuds, including basketball and baseball. Blake is leaning toward playing football over basketball in college. Brady said football and basketball are his two front runners to play in college.

“It’s been tough with the virus and they can’t come to games or practices,” Brady said. “I’m just trying to see where everything goes.”

Blake and Brady are both 6-foot-1 and weigh around 170 pounds, which is about 20 to 25 pounds more than their playing weight as juniors. Brady had 80 receptions for 1,039 yards and 11 touchdowns as the two combined for nearly 2,300 receiving yards last fall.

“They kind of hit everybody by surprise during their junior year,” said Chad Walthall, Blake and Brady’s father, who is also the head men’s basketball coach at Minnesota State Moorhead. “They’re extremely late bloomers, physically. I think from last fall to now it’s just been eye-opening.”

Feeney said the Walthall twins both have Division I football potential at wide receiver. They have reliable hands and also run 40-yard times in the 4.5-to-4.6 seconds range.


“They can both run really, really well and they both have great ball skills,” said Feeney, a former North Dakota State quarterback. “They make difficult catches look very easy just because of their body control.”

Chad Walthall, a former Concordia Cobbers quarterback, is no stranger to college recruiting. He’s been the Dragons head coach for a decade and has been coaching college basketball since the 1990s.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however, has altered the recruiting landscape.

“I think there are different philosophies recruiting-wise with this COVID,” Chad Walthall said. “Some are a lot more aggressive and some are waiting and there’s not a right or a wrong. I think teams are handling recruiting in different ways and nothing’s normal.”

The Spuds would have opened their season last week had the season not been postponed. Blake and Brady said it’s been difficult not playing in the fall, especially with high school games being played a short drive away in North Dakota.

“It’s tough to see them playing when we can’t play our games. We will keep working until our season comes and go from there,” Brady said.

“It definitely is a bittersweet feeling,” Blake added. “I’m happy for those guys that they get to play. It’s good that other states around us are playing, I’m happy for them.”

Blake and Brady said they would likely play at the same school if both chose to play college football.


“I told them basically the same thing I tell our recruits. Enjoy the process, enjoy the moment of the senior year because that is the most important thing right now,” Chad said. “If something is meant to happen, it’s going to happen regardless.”

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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