Odd and Ends

  • Per various twitter accounts, a large number of incoming freshman and transfers will be arriving on campus early next week.  This will give them a chance to workout with the team for 3 weeks and get acclimated to UND & Grand Forks before the start of fall camp.
  • We have a feeling UND is actively searching for help at the corner spot based on twitter activity.  They recently offered Alonzo Addae, a cornerback from Canada Prep Academy, who would join UND this fall if he committed.

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(picture via canadafootballchat.com)

  • We haven’t seen or heard much about the running back position.  When looking at the list of 2015 signees, it does show that UND signed 3 RB’s (Santiago, Oliveira, Smith) this past year.  Playing one and spacing them out in different classes would definitely be an option.
  • When looking at the roster it appears that safety Domo Blackmon is no longer listed.  Blackmon played sparingly last season and was going to be a backup this fall.  We will keep tabs on it once fall camp comes around.
  • In the recent Minnesota All-Star football game, UND signee RB John Santiago was name the North Offensive MVP of the game.  He rushed 7 times for 59 yards with a long of 32.  The South team won the game 21-10.
  • They have begun laying the turf in the UND High Performance Center.  It is slated to open on August 1st.

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Catching Up

There have been a few things going down lately related to UND Football so we thought we would give a quick rundown:

  1. UND signed two more players a to the Class of 2015 – one high school and one FBS transfer.
  2. The high school signee came via Canada, the fourth Canadian in the 2015 class.  Carter Wilson, a 6’4″-230, defensive end from the Ottawa Sooners football club signed with UND on June 10th.  Wilson was spotted by the UND staff at a 7-on-7 tournament that Recruit Ready held in May up in Winnipeg.  Wilson had planned on going to a prep school in the U.S. to enhance his stock until UND came with their offer.  He fits the mold of the sleeker but more athletic defensive lineman they have been recruiting over the past year.
  3. Daquan Baker, a freshman inside linebacker from the University of New Mexico, has decided to transfer to UND.  Baker redshirted this past fall for the Lobos and will have four seasons of eligibility remaining.  Baker, 6’2″-230, should have an immediate impact at ILB and all special teams.  He shows solid instincts and a thick frame that will suit him well in UND’s 3-4 scheme.  The Sam ILB needs to be the run-stopper and we can see Baker backing up senior Will Ratelle this fall.
  4. Josh Parks, potential RB transfer from the Gophers, has decided to stay at UM per multiple sources.  We know UND absolutely needs more RB depth for this fall so the search doesn’t end there.
  5. Former UND WR Greg Hardin was recently cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  No word yet on where he may end up now but we fully expect him to catch on somewhere and give it another shot soon.
  6. Expect UND to sign a RB and CB still this summer from the FBS ranks.  We have said this all along but it has not come to fruition, yet.  If they wanted to simply sign a player it would have been done by now.  They are trying to find the right guy at those positions who can make an immediate impact, much like Tillman and Hinojosa did last year.  Their is a big difference between a 2nd or 3rd stringer at a P5 school and the same 2-3 at a G5 school.
  7. UND recently held it’s Elite Camp for some of their top prospects.  This is the camp where the staff gets to evaluate players in person and it usually results in a handful of offers being extended immediately afterwards.  We will have more on this once those offers are publicized.
  8. We are hearing UND will be getting a new sticker logo on their new helmets.  We have not seen it but have been told it will be slightly different than the current “ND” sticker that they have used forever.
  9. UND signees Luke Keller, Carter Blackwell, Tristan Hartness, and Aiden Hartness recently represented Team North Dakota in the 2015 Badlands Bowl.  Montana beat North Dakota 40-25.
  10. The Minnesota All-Star game is being held June 27th in St. Cloud.  UND will be represented by North All-Stars RB/WR John Santiago and RB/LB Jade Lawrence & South All-Star DE Carl Engwall.
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UND Signs One, Adds Another PWO

We knew UND was looking at adding defensive line depth that could help immediately this fall.  It came true as UND signed defensive end Noah Johnson (6’3″-260) from City College of San Francisco.  CCSF is a Juco powerhouse in California and perennially plays for the CCCAA State Championship and mythical National Championship.

Johnson had 6 sacks and 9.5 tackles-for-loss this past season for the Rams.  He played on the end of the line in both a stand-up and down position.  Johnson fits the mold of the slightly undersized defensive ends that UND has been recruiting since Coach Schweigert took over.  They are sacrificing a bit of height and weight for speed/quickness and the ability to make plays from the DE position vs. simply taking up blockers.  Johnson will give UND nine defensive lineman, meaning they are now 3 deep across the board.  We see him initially backing up Brandon Dranka at right DE.

Johnson’s tie to UND is defensive line coach Jordan Gigli, who coached him at Sacramento State in Johnson’s freshman season(s).  Johnson then transferred to CCSF for his sophomore season.  He has two years of eligibility remaining.

UND has added a PWO to the Class of 2015 in LB Autonio Roland from Grand Blanc, MI. Roland, 6’1″-215, will be most likely an OLB.  Roland is also a bit undersized at 6’1″ but shows good ability to take on blocks and shed with his hands.  Being Roland took signing day pictures with a UND hat on tells us he has been committed for awhile but hasn’t been able to be announced.

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Early Summer Tidbits

First off, a bunch of CFL news that relates to UND Football:

  • UND cornerback Alex Tillman recently signed a professional contract with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL.
  • Former UND cornerback Donovan Alexander (2003-2007) decided to retire from the CFL this past winter.  Alexander had a solid 7 year CFL career and was also able to retire as a Winnipeg Blue Bomber, his hometown team.  You can listen to his interview about retirement, future plans, and decision to come to UND here.
  • Former UND WR Greg Hardin has officially begun camp with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.  He will be joining Sioux legend Weston Dressler in the Rider WR group.  It will be interesting to see how Hardin’s superior speed/quickness translate to the CFL game.
  • Former Sioux nose guard extraordinaire Scott “Squat” Schultz was recently selected to be in the Saskatchewan Roughrider’s Plaza of Honor, their version of a Hall of Fame for the franchise.  Schultz played 9 seasons with the Riders, winning the Grey Cup in 2007 and posting 35 sacks in his career.

Former Minnesota Gopher/Chisago Lakes, MN running back Josh Parks is looking to transfer from Dinkytown and has been in contact with UND.  We assume he will be visiting soon if there is mutual interest.

Per his twitter account, UND appears to be in contact with New Mexico Lobo freshman linebacker Daquan Baker.  He would be another FBS transfer that could be visiting in the next few weeks and would the second linebacker (Jephete Matilus-UM).

There have been speculation on the internet that UND is talking to Western Michigan cornerback Logan Oce but it has never been validated.  Oce is transferring but has not chosen a new destination as of yet.

Cornerback, Running Back, and Defensive End are priorities when it comes to transfers/signees.

The Football team has begun summer workouts at Memorial Stadium.  They expect to have around 55-60 players on campus this summer working out with the team.  Some true freshmen could arrive around mid-summer to begin early.

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UND Football Summer Camps

Here is a listing of the UND Football Summer Camps that will be starting in a couple weeks.  The most intriguing camps are the One Day ‘Elite Camps’.

These Elite Camps are where many of the top prospects that UND has offered or will offer come to show their skills against other top recruits.  Many times it is hard to judge a recruit solely on high school tape so the coaches like to see him in person to verify what they are seeing.

The Brooks Bollinger Quarterback & Receiver School is a must for all recruits that want to learn the nuances of those two positions.  Excellent coaching and very good competition combine to make a great camp.

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Youth Camp

  • June 8-10
  • Grades 1-8

Team Camp

  • June 14-16
  • Grades 9-12

7-on-7 and OL/DL Camp

  • June 17
  • Grades 9-12

One-Day Elite Camps

  • June 18 and/or July 25
  • Elite camp work with UND coaches, compete against region’s best

Bollinger QB & Receiver School

  • June 29-July 1
  • Grades 9-12
  • Work with former NFL QB Brooks Bollinger, UND coaches, other area coaches

BB Camp

 

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Spring Ball Wrapup – 2015

UND held their annual spring game/scrimmage on Saturday and it could not have gone better, IMO.  The weather was fantastic, the crowd was surprisingly good, and the game itself was very entertaining.  You can tell the players know that very few spots are wrapped up on this team.  The intensity level of the game was high.

  • The defense dominated most of the scrimmage.  They are really starting to look the part of a good FCS defense.  The front seven played well all day vs. an undermanned UND offensive line.  They still are going to be a lunch pail group but they play so damn hard every play.  Effort is never an issue and the pursuit is noticeable.
  • DE’s Drew Greely and Brandon Dranka have really put on some bulk in the weight room.  Both players are around 20 pounds heavier than when they came to UND last fall.  But, those two don’t want to weigh much more than 240-250 cause speed and twitch is their game.  Combine those two with the leader of the DL, Jordan Hinojosa, and UND has a nice starting unit.
  • DE Austin Cieslak has made some nice strides and had a nice spring game.  He adds a bigger, taller body to the defensive line rotation and should see some decent snaps this fall.
  • S Domo Blackmon had a solid spring and should fit in somewhere come fall.  Blackmon could play corner as UND has a void there with only three healthy corners (Brown, Carter, D. Harris).  After getting a year in the system, Blackmon really played fast this spring.
  • Freshman OLB Dylan Harmston had a good spring overall and should be a special teams fixture and fight for reps next fall.
  • CB walk-on Garrett Bollant made an outstanding interception on a fade route in the end zone.  He played the receiver and reached up late with one hand to knock it down but it richoted right into that hand and he cuffed it for the INT.  Huge play.
  • Don’t be surprised if OLB Jake Disterhaupt enters fall camp as a #1 OLB.  The battle is between Dayo Idowu, Brian Labat and Disterhaupt for the two spots.  Disterhaupt has shown a knack for making plays at his new position.
  • The biggest question mark areas as we exit spring ball are Cornerback and OL.
  • Deion Harris is a special talent.  We saw him progress and grow all spring.  His length at corner is unprecedented at UND.  He still needs to mature as a player and will no doubt take his lumps in the Big Sky (all corners do) but his upside is huge.  Outside of him, someone needs to step up on the right side and stake claim to a starting job.  Depth is still a concern and they need to develop a nickel for passing downs.
  • The UND QBs had a few issues with handoffs in the game.
  • In our unofficial and amateur opinion, after watching this spring, we expect UND to name Keaton Studsrud #1 on the depth chart heading into fall camp.  He did not light the world on fire this spring by any means, but we feel outplayed Ryan Bartels.  In our mind, the difference is that Studsrud brings much more to the table athletically and can extend plays like he did against Northern Arizona last fall as a true freshman to win the game.  He always has his eyes downfield on the run and is able to make throws after leaving the pocket.  With incumbent Joe Mollberg coming back from achilles surgery, fall camp could be interesting to say the least.  However, barring a huge digression and/or setback, we predict Studsrud starts week 1.
  • Studsrud’s mobility is what will set him apart from the other QB’s.  Early in the game he got loose and bought time, finding WR Clive Georges late across the middle for a big gainer.  With the offensive line still a work in progress, UND is going to need a QB who can buy a little time around the pocket.
  • The UND offensive line was a beat up bunch this spring.  They need AJ Stockwell to come back healthy in August.  They need a center to emerge as the “the guy”.  The left tackle spot this spring was noticeably a weak spot.  This has to be fixed next fall.  If Stockwell continues to be hampered by injuries, Mat Cox will be the guy at LT.
  • There is a chance freshman OL Jake Francis may move to fullback or tight end depending on his recovery time from injury.  Francis was only around 260 or so when he came to UND and may be more suited to play at a lighter weight.  Will be interesting to see where he lines up this fall.
  • Walk-on WR Luke Stanley emerged as a consistent threat in the passing game.  He is UND’s only big WR (6’4″-200) but showed pretty good athleticism in his routes.  Stanley could play alot this fall and be the tall receiving threat that UND was missing last year.  They move him around a lot too from inside to outside, which tells us they want to find ways to get him the ball.
  • Another former walk-on WR, sophomore Josh Seibel, continues to impress and overachieve on the field.  The Bismarck native will be a leader at this position group and lead by example for the next 3 years.  We love the intangibles and toughness he brings to the table.
  • The team is starting to physically look like they are supposed to.  The coaches have added much needed height at several positions – Tajhe Hartley at ILB looks really good and sticks out at 6’3″.  The team is getting so much longer, which was a high priority in recruiting the past two years, according to defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt.  They saw what the Big Sky had to offer and knew they needed to get taller and add more range.
  • Don’t be surprised if incoming freshman Iwarri Smith gets a look at RB early in fall camp.  Smith was an “athlete” recruit with options for positions, but they may want to see if he’s a difference maker. We have been told that Patrick Sharp is no longer with the team, leaving a void on the depth chart at RB.  UND currently has only three running backs on the roster in Ja’Won Arrington, Oscar Nevermann (ineligible for 2015), and Kyle Norberg.  They need quality depth in a bad way.  Incoming freshman Brady Oliveira will help but they need at least two more on the roster.
  • Speaking of which, we fully expect an FBS running back to visit UND in the next week or two.  Will obviously be keeping tabs on it and update as we know any info.
  • They are not there yet but a few more recruiting classes and this team will look completely different than the one’s from the past 4-5 years.
  • Following that point, we are very excited about what the depth chart will look like next fall between the injection of a new freshman recruiting class, transfers, and the return of injured players who did not participate this spring.  We will take a look at that aspect soon in a blog post.

 

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What to Watch For At Spring Scrimmage

UND will be hosting their annual spring scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 11:30am.  Being the staff is only in their second season, there is obviously a ton of jobs up for grabs.  Here are some #hottakes on what we are looking for and positions to pay attention to:

  • Three spots on the OL are up for grabs.  LT – C – RG.  Brandon Anderson (LG) and Sean Meehan (LT) have their spots locked down.
  • Don’t be surprised if Mat Cox is getting reps at center come fall camp.  UND seems a bit uneasy about the center position.  Dan Bell and Brandon Miller could see reps there as well to see who can adjust the best.
  • If AJ Stockwell doesn’t stay healthy come fall camp, Cox could be the starting left tackle.  He has had a decent spring.  Overall depth at tackle is still scary right now.
  • The RG position is a battle right now between Brandon Miller and Demon Taylor.  We would give the edge to Miller at the moment but this one will go into fall.
  • Meehan has adjust very well at RT.  He has looked solid all spring and will be an anchor over there.
  • Looking forward to seeing Ja’won Arrington run the ball in a game situation.  Will also pay attention to Patrick Sharp and Kyle Norberg as they battle for the backup spot.  Sharp has been running at a different tempo this spring.
  • Jawon Johnson had had a nice spring at safety.  Fully expect him to win the job opposite Cole Reyes.
  • Watch for depth chart position battles at ILB.  After Ratelle and Rich, there are some battles going on at each spot, specifically at “Sam” between Tajhe Hartley and Connor O’Brien.
  • Dylan Harmston has been coming on strong lately in spring practices and has been noticeable making plays in the backfield.  He’s one to watch and should get lots of reps tomorrow at OLB.
  • Corner is a position that is 100% up for grabs.  Both spots.   Deion Harris has the inside track on one of them but we will be watching Chris Brown, Chris Carter, and Harris to see who sticks out.  We have heard that Charles Flowers got dinged up and will not play in the game.  Too bad.

Several of the Class of 2015 signees will be on hand, including Zack Williams, Mason Bennett, Brady Oliveira, Brad Heidlebaugh, Patrick Rooney, Ty Carter, and Bryce Blair.

UND will also be hosting around 10 juniors on unofficial visits from Minnesota, Colorado, and North Dakota.  Names we have seen as visitors are:

  1. Nathan Leithead – Pine Creek, CO
  2. Kacin Nowlin – Pine Creek, CO
  3. Matt Fine – Bloomington, MN
  4. Zane Van Matre – Rock Canyon, CO
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UND Spring Scrimmage Info

Here is the press release from UND about the Spring “Scrimmage” coming up on Saturday at 11:30am at Memorial Stadium.

  • Slated to start at 11:30 a.m. CT, the scrimmage will feature approximately 60 plays of the offense going up against the defense in pre-scripted situations. 
  • Fans planning to attend the event can park for free in both the west and north lots next to Memorial Stadium. Those lots will be open for fans starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Because of the UND Champions Ball fundraiser being held that night at the Alerus Center, UND had to move their spring game scrimmage to Memorial Stadium.  The problem is that Memorial is no longer in service for fans, only for the team underneath the bleacher seating.  So their will be no concessions or restrooms to use inside the building itself.  We are assuming their will be porta-potties brought in but have not seen any clarification on that yet.  This is obviously much less of an event than it has been in the past due to the move.  Memorial doesn’t give them much of a chance to do anything.

We will update this page with any new info we come across.

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Scrimmage #2 Thoughts

UND held a 29 play “scrimmage” on Wednesday to try and get some live reps for the younger/newer players.  Even though it was extremely windy that day, the team was able to run the full offense and give us a look at how the team has progressed thus far in spring ball.

  • Mat Cox, Dan Bell, and Brandon Miller had a nice push on Ja’Won Arrington’s 2 yard TD run.  They paved a big hole through the left A gap for an easy TD.
  • Kyle Norberg showed decent speed on a TD run as he raced for the pylon.  UND ran that play out of the “diamond” formation that has been made popular lately by Dana Holgerson at OSU/WVU.
  • The next play Norberg scored again, this time up the middle as Bell and C Grant Aplin plowed a huge hole for an easy TD.
  • WR Josh Seibel had an “end-around” 30 yard TD run called back by a holding penalty on TE Luke Fiedler.  Fiedler was the edge blocker on the play side but engaged S Jawon Johnson a bit too long and it turned into holding.  Good teaching point for the young TE, who did a nice job on the initial seal block.
  • The QB’s both looked OK, despite the wind.  Keaton Studsrud hit a couple short ‘pitch and catch’ throws to Miguel Cerriteno, who is having a nice spring.   Ryan Bartels will want one throw back – a sure TD pass in the corner of the end zone on a swing route that he overthrew.  Both QBs have missed open WRs on TD passes.  They both need to connect on those throws when given the opportunities.
  • The defense is running around at a much more fast-paced tempo.  It helps having a year under their belt and being confident in their assignmenst and where they are supposed to be; everyone plays faster that way.  You can also notice the pursuit drills are paying dividends.
  • OLB Brian Labat made a nice play off the edge, knifing inside the blocker to make a TFL in the backfield.
  • We really like a few new passing game concepts that the offense appears to have installed this spring.  Multiple different looks in formation and route combos that are giving the UND defense problems.
  • Overall, we really like the progress of the UND running game so far this spring.  However, we have seen some concerning run fits in the front seven on defense that has allowed some big gains.  This needs to be shored up and we believe it will be.
  • The four linebacker positions and safety continue to be the strength of the defense, both with starting talent and depth.  Defensive line and corner continue to be be the spots that need to improve and build quality depth.  More numbers are coming in the fall, but these positions need to have a strong finish.
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UND Spring Ball Update – Defense

Following up on the offense report, here’s a look at what we’ve seen and heard so far regarding the progression of the UND Defense in spring practices:

– At corner, sophomore Deion Harris is positioning himself as the top guy and should be the starting left corner come fall, like we hoped.  His progression and confidence are obvious so far this spring.  Have we ever mentioned his freakish size and length for a corner?  He will give the defense some flexibility to move him down inside if need be for matchups with bigger WRs and TEs as well, specifically in the red zone and on the goalline.

– At outside linebacker, sophomore Jake Disterhaupt is picking up where he left off at the end of his freshman campaign, being disruptive and noticeable.  As a recruit out of high school, many were wondering which position he would fit best at.  It appears that he has found his comfort level at OLB and will no doubt be a fixture there over the next 3 years.  There’s no question he’s a top 3 guy at OLB right now and if his trend and path continues, we feel an argument could be made for him by the end of spring as the #1 overall OLB.  With up and comer Dylan Harmston, Dayo Idowu, Brian Labat and Javen Butler, the depth is there for a steady rotation of fresh legs.

– Tajhe Hartley and Connor O’Brien are getting noticed at inside linebacker.  O’Brien’s improvement will be valuable for depth and Hartley’s athleticism has been exciting to see at the least.  You can tell he still needs more time mentally to gain confidence and play fast, but when he triggers you can notice it.  Dylan Bakker is showing promise as a rotational guy as well.

– Jawon Johnson certainly looks the part as the starting safety opposite of Cole Reyes, who we believe will start playing the Flyer spot like we had hoped before spring ball.  Johnson needs to work on his mental game and knowing where to be in the defense, which will lead to playing faster with more reps and confidence.  We really like how he looks physically right now.  Domo Blackmon is also making solid progress thus far and is jockeying himself into position as the 3rd man in the rotation at safety.

– Liking what we see at defensive end with sophomores Brandon Dranka and Drew Greely so far, which was to be expected given their experience as true freshman last season.  Both will be counted on heavily and need to stay healthy.  Alec Carrothers is also still showing progress and will no doubt be in the rotation.  Depth is still a concern here however.

– At noseguard, Tank Harris is coming along nicely and showing promise but still needs time this spring and next fall.  We think Austin Cieslak is making the transition inside where he probably best fits in the defense.

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