2015 Position Group Thoughts

As we get closer to the start of Fall Camp 2015 (Aug. 6th), now might be a good time to look at the team by positions groups.  UND has added a handful of transfers since Christmas break, which changed the look of a few groups.  I didn’t address every position group as some need to be viewed in fall camp before anybody could possibly get an idea of where they are at (QB & RB).

Most Improved:  Safety

  • The safety position was arguably the weakest or most inconsistent last season.  This was a major reason why UND gave up a 38% conversion rate on third down.  They played tough on 1st and 2nd downs but then would give up a third and long that would keep them on the field.
  • With that being said, I am a huge fan of safety Cole Reyes.  The sophomore from Illinois is built like a linebacker (6’2″-220) but had the some of the best testing numbers on the entire team.  He has a year under his belt and we looking for big things from Reyes this fall.
  • To go with Reyes, UND added transfer safeties Jawon Johnson and Zach Arnell.  They go 6’2″ & 6’3″, respectively, and add much needed height on the back end.  Johnson showed very good play-making ability this past spring, while Arnell was injured.  A huge positive for UND is that both of them were able to learn the defense and should be ready to fly come August 8th (first practice).
  • When UND goes to a dime package, it is possible Arnell, Johnson and Reyes will be on the field at the same time.  That will look pretty.
  • Improved safety play, which in my opinion is a given, will make the UND defense much better this season.  They still need more depth at the position but they are starting to look the right way when it comes to the eye test.

Biggest Question Mark:  Cornerback

  • True sophomore Deion Harris will be a starter at one corner, that much is known.  At 6’4″, he brings so many unique traits that I have never seen at the corner position before.  He actually has pretty fluid hips and good speed to go with that frame.  Playing as a true freshman will be a huge boost for him in 2015.  If his technique has developed like we think it should have, he could be in line for a big year.
  • The other side of the field is big question mark.  Senior Chris Brown and sophomore Chris Carter will be duking it out with newly signed transfer Jahmere Irvin-Sills (Mississippi State).  Brown played much better in 2014 than he did his previous two seasons at UND, including a huge Pick 6 vs. the Griz at the Alerus Center.  The downfall of both Brown and Carter are they only go about 5’9″ so matchups in the Big Sky become an issue, where teams like to pick on small corners with their big WR’s.
  • Sophomore Charles Flowers is a wildcard at the corner position.  He was injured in the spring after redshirting in 2014.  I was told he made huge gains in the strength and conditioning department but we still don’t know what they’ve got in Flowers yet.
  • It appears UND will be signing CB/S Vashon Tucker from Eastern Christian Academy in Maryland.  Tucker is close with Irvin-Sills and that is what brought him to Grand Forks.  He reclassified to the Class of 2015 but it seems as if he needed to graduate before he was eligible or something along those lines.  He had many FBS offers in 2014 which means he is definitely a threat to play immediately.
  • UND has 5 cornerbacks that can play but they don’t know which one’s can be counted on yet.  This is the reason for the ‘question mark’ tag.

Wait and See What We Got:  Defensive Line

  • The defensive line won’t be the most talented group on the field for UND this fall but they won’t be far behind.  This is what I would describe as a lunch pail group that has a player or two that will show star tendencies.  UND is building depth along the defensive line and certainly isn’t where they need to be but it’s starting to look better.  Coach Jordan Gigli has done a superb job with them since his arrival in Grand Forks and we see that continuing this fall.
  • Sophomore Brandon Dranka is the war daddy of the group.  He has best been described as having the “horsepower” under the hood that is needed to make big, explosive plays from the defensive end position in UND’s 3-4 scheme.  As a true freshman last season, Dranka played extremely well, logging 10.5 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks while playing consistent reps.  Not bad for a 6’2″-230 pounder right out of high school.
  • His classmate Drew Greely also showed nice promise in 2014 as a true freshman.  Greely is similar in size to Dranka and notched 3 sacks himself to go along with 3.5 TFL’s.  At times last season, Greely showed some stiffness that we hope was remedied with off-season training, which could improve his play at the position dramatically.
  • Senior Kyle Woodsmall is coming off an injury and will be counted on for depth.  We are assuming he will be ready to go come fall camp.  Junior Alec Carrothers will also be counted on for depth at the defensive end position.
  • Two redshirt freshman that will be need to come up big for UND this fall are Tank Harris and Austin Cieslak.  Harris will be a nose guard in UND’s 3-4 scheme and consistent, strong play from that position is vital to UND’s success.  He has the size (6’3″-300) but will need a lot of reps and understanding of the system to become a force at this position.  Cieslak is a big, physical type of defensive end that will need to grow up in a hurry to spell the starters as games wear on.
  • UND did pick up a transfer in DE Noah Johnson from City College of San Francisco.  Johnson, 6’2″-275, will be another depth guy at defensive end and will need to produce when give the chance.  We could also see him as a candidate to move down inside to give more depth at nose.
  • We just learned this week that Jordan Hinojosa decided to move back home for family reasons.  This hurts UND’s depth at nose guard but is not insurmountable.  Hinojosa’s motor and intensity on the line will be misssed, no doubt.
  • There is a chance that true freshman Steve Greer plays this fall for UND.  He has the physical size at (6’1-285) and aggressiveness to play the nose guard position if the need arises.  With Hinojosa gone, the likelihood that Greer plays just became greater.
  • We know UND is currently looking for defensive line help through the FBS transfer world and it could go on even after camp starts.
  • This group has the ability to own the line and shut down an opponent’s run game.  But, it will depend on the development of some of the younger players along with them staying healthy for it to happen.  They know what they got with Dranka, Greely, Woodsmall and Carrothers.  After that it’s a guessing game and we won’t know much until 3-4 games into the season.

Deepest/Most Reliable Group:  Linebacker

  • UND is nowhere near what they want to be as far as a roster of players go but this years linebackers are certainly beginning to look the part of a solid FCS unit.  There is depth and talent to go along with size and speed.
  • There is no doubt in anyone’s mind who leads this group: senior ILB Will Ratelle.  The St. Thomas Academy product led UND in tackles last year with 106 to go along with 5.5 TFL’s and 2 sacks.  Ratelle is a workhorse in the weight room and is the prototypical leader by example.  I am obviously expecting another big year out of Will.
  • The second leading tackler on the 2014 team was Ratelle’s battery mate at ILB, Taj Rich.  The 6’1″-230 junior notched 86 tackles and an impressive 11 TFL’s.  He had a breakout year in 2014 but definitely has a lot of room for improvement.  We did love to see how well he developed his “trigger” to see a play develop and react immeditely.
  • A guy who will be pushing Rich hard for the starting spot is freshman transfer DaQuan Baker (New Mexico).  Baker, 6’0″-240, shows good speed on tape for his size and obviously has the size to hold up on the inside.  I am excited to see what he can do come fall camp.
  • Junior Dylan Bakker is the wildcard at ILB.  He redshirted last fall after transferring in from West Hills CC.  The Amsterdam native spent the fall getting stronger while also learning the UND defense.  Much like Charles Flowers who did the same thing, this move could pay off big for Bakker in 2015.  He is a rangy type of linebacker that can make plays on the perimeter.

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  • OLB is also a position of solid depth and play-making ability.  UND returns it’s top 3 OLB’s from 2014 in senior Dayo Idowu, junior Brian Labat, and sophomore Jake Disterhaupt.
  • Idowu is the incumbent starter at the weakside OLB position in UND’s 3-4 scheme.  He had a solid 2014 in which he made a number of big plays on his way to 9 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks, while also adding an interception.
  • Even though Idowu was the starter for most of 2014, he is certainly going to be pushed hard by Disterhaupt.  Disterhaupt is a funny story.  The kid came to UND as the typical tweener, kind of a safety, kind of a linebacker but not sure he could be great at either.  Well, he found a home at OLB.  In limited playing time, Disterhaupt notched 7 TFL’s and 2 sacks last season and was very noticeable as the season went on.  He will be one to watch in a few weeks.
  • Labat could be the starter at the strongside OLB position, as he was in 2014.  At 6’3″-230, Labat has the size to be a force on the end but needs to get much more consistent with his play.  By all accounts he is a very smart player, much like Idowu, but needs to step it up this year and become a leader on the defense.
  • Redshirt freshman Dylan Harmston is the wildcard at OLB.  He has the size, 6’2″-210, and speed to make big plays off the edge for UND.  He has never played before so it will take time but he could be a playmaker type, like Disterhaupt became last season.

Group With Most To Prove:  Wide Receiver

  • The WR group added the likes of Arizona transfer Clive Georges and Iowa Western transfer Alex Reed to a group of unproven, young talent.  Georges will be a home-run hitter type, while Reed will be the typical smaller slot guy.  Both were brought in to make plays and log reps.  Bottom line is both need to produce for the UND offense in 2015 if they have any hopes of improving from their pedestrian 2014 numbers.
  • Bismarck product and former walk-on Josh Seibel came out of nowhere last year to become UND’s best WR at the end of the year.  He ended the season with 25 catches for 215 yards and 1 TD.  I see Seibel as the “Mr. Reliable” of the UND offense.  If you need a first down, find Seibel.  He had a knack for getting open in those situations last season, including the game vs. Portland State where he converted four first downs himself on intermediate catches.
  • I need to see more out of sophomore Brandon Walker, who played as a true freshman last fall.  He had 7 catches for 105 yards in 2014 but played sparingly at the end of the season.
  • There are two wildcards in the group that could change things for the better with breakout seasons.  Senior Miguel Cerriteno now has a year under his belt after transferring in from Feather River College last fall.  He struggled mightily with drops in 2014 but really seemed to settle in this past spring.  At 6’2″-200, Cerriteno provides a nice sized possession type of receiver for the UND offense.
  • The second wildcard of the group is freshman Luke Stanley.  At 6’4″-215, Stanley gives UND the size they need to create mismatches and allow for quick audibles at the line if 1-on-1 is there.  Stanley had a great spring session as well and should be in the mix for consistent reps this fall.

Group With Most To Prove II:  Offensive Line

  • The UND offensive line is the most important group on the entire team.  The staff has said since day one that they are going to run the ball as much as they possibly can and get back to a physical style of football.  I believe they are on the right track with offensive line coach Luke Knauf.  He has been consistently instilling a tough-minded mentality that he brought with him from his playing days in Wisconsin.
  • For a good part of the year last season, the UND offensive line was not able to get done what needed to be done.  In fact, there was a five game stretch from Missouri State to Portland State (games 3-7) where they failed to gain 100 yards rushing in any of the games.  Then, as the offense started to gel things got better.  The culmination was a 297 yard steamrolling of Northern Arizona at the Alerus Center that showed what UND ultimately wants to do on offense.
  • The leader of the offensive line is senior Brandon Anderson (6’6″-310).  He has been the rock at left guard in his 3 years at UND, starting an impressive 30+ games.  Anderson will be relied upon heavily this fall the lead the run game and also mentor the numerous young offensive lineman that are the future of the program.  Anderson has a chance for post-season honors.
  • Senior Sean Meehan has made a smooth transition to right tackle and I am expecting a big year out of him.  We preferred to see Meehan down at guard, but last spring he looked good out on the edge.  He has shown the footwork and form to be able to pick up edge rushers and is known as a very intelligent football player.
  • After Anderson and Meehan things start to look a bit murkier.  I assume that senior Colton Boas is going to start at center.  Boas struggled at times in 2014 with everything from protection to errant shotgun snaps.  He is a bit undersized at 6’1″, which led to issues vs. bigger, physical nose guards.  Boas is a guy to watch in the fall to see how he is progressing.
  • Look for sophomore Mat Cox to battle it out at center with Boas.  Cox goes 6’5″-285 and would bring a completely different dimension to the center position (ability to reach the nose guard).  Cox also plays left tackle and could be moved to right tackle based on need.  His movement will be something to track.
  • Right guard is a position that is 100% up for grabs.  Sophomore Brandon Miller is going to be the starter, at least initially.  Miller had a nice spring but has very little experience (even though he did spell an injured  Brandon Anderson quite well vs. Montana).  He will be in a battle with freshman Demon Taylor, who also progressed last spring but has a ways to go.  Taylor has all the tools to be a good one but needs time and reps to become a collegiate offensive lineman.   That battle could go all the way up to game week.
  • Sophomore Dan Bell is also in their at the left guard position.  He, like Miller, showed flashes in the spring but needs reps and maturity.  Bell will more than likely back up Anderson.  Junior transfer Kevin Camy could be moving down to guard after starting at tackle last spring.  Guard may be a better fit at having some struggles out on the edge.
  • UND needs sophomore left tackle AJ Stockwell to stay healthy and own that position.  Stockwell has been hurt off and on during his two years on campus and hopefully can get the injury bug behind him.  He has shown flashes of ability and has the size/athletic ability that every OL coach wants in a LT (6′-6″-295).  Time for it to show.
  • The wildcard of the group is true freshman Elijah Grady of New Town, ND.  By all accounts, Grady is a very intelligent football player and picks up on things quickly.  He obviously has the size (6’5″-295) and very good footwork to be a good offensive lineman for UND.  Now, taking a step back, things change in a hurry once the ball is snapped and 19-22 year old college kids are coming at you instead of 16-18 year old high schooler’s.  Look for Grady to have a chance to play at guard but possibly play some tackle as well once camp wears on.

 

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Quite The Recruiting Weekend

The UND coaching staff had an unprecedented weekend when they pulled in 8 commitments in a 3 day span.  The commitments all revolved around their final Elite Camp of the summer.  They had 10-12 kids on campus the day before for “unofficial visits” and six of them committed.  This is definitely a positive start to the recruiting season and something that can help with other recruits that are currently weighing their options.  The list of commits is below:

RB Isaiah Secrest, 5’10” – 185, Rice Lake, Wisconsin (Rice Lake High School)

Secrest shows good speed on film.  He is able to break tackles in the box, which is a must for any high-end running back.  Secrest has good vision and cutting ability after the handoff.
Highlights

OLB Jake Geier, 6’2” – 200, Andover, Minnesota (Andover High School)

Geier has a lot of highlights playing WR, which shows his athletic ability, but we see him as an weakside OLB in UND’s 3-4 scheme.  He could easily play WR for UND as he reminds us of current UND WR Josh Seibel.
Highlights

OT Noah Mortel, 6’6” – 240, Luck, Wisconsin (Luck High School)

Mortel fits the mold of the lineman UND has been recruiting lately:  tall with big frame but undersized weight wise.  Mortel played tight end in high school but we see him sliding over a spot and playing offensive tackle at UND once he fills out that 6’6″ frame.
Highlights

TE Hunter Pinke, 6’6” – 215, Wishek, North Dakota (South Border High School)

Pinke is a UND legacy as his mother, Katie Pinke (Lukens) was a thrower for the UND track team and his grandfather was Fred Lukens, who played basketball for UND.  Pinke is also a very good basketball player and it seems to translate to the football field.  He shows a real fluid running stride and agility from the tight end position.
Highlights

CB Evan Holm, 6’0″ – 175, Edina, MN (Edina High School)

Holm plays a physical, instinctive cornerback.  He shows excellent speed on film and his breaks on the ball are above-average.  Holm is also a standout Rugby player for the Hornets, which is interesting to say the least.  Cornerback is definitely a position of need again this year.
Highlights

ILB Cameron Hunt, 6’1” – 210, Carmel, IN (Carmel High School)

Hunt shows good instincts from his inside linebacker position.   He has a frame that can easily get to 225 and play the weakside ILB position for UND.  Hunt is the type of LB that UND needs more of on the inside – playing sideline to sideline.  Hunt plays for Indiana powerhouse Carmel High School.
Highlights

S Tim Ryan, 5’11” – 170, Huntley, IL (Huntley High School)

Ryan is a bit undersized at 5’11” but makes up for it with outstanding instincts from the safety position and an aggressive playing style.  He reminds us a bit of former UND safety from Illinois Cam Kuksa.  Not quite the hitter that Kuksa was but every bit the playmaker.  We see Ryan starting out at free safety but he could also potentially play cornerback upon need.
Highlights

S Jordan Canady, 6’2″ – 175, New Berlin, WI (Eisenhower High School)

Canady has a big frame and will be a physical type of safety for UND, most likely a strong safety.  He is not a burner on film but has decent speed and excellent athleticism with good cutting ability at the point of impact from the RB position.  Canady will be a good player to roll down into the box when you need an extra hat in there.
Highlights

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One That Would Unite All Fronts

***First and foremost as a disclaimer, we, the writers of this blog, have varying and differing opinions on many topics.  This is probably just another illustration of that.***

I can’t but follow up on President Kelley’s decision (a smart one) to return the no nickname option back to the final list.  This appears to be an executive action of sorts that bypasses the nickname committee’s decision to eliminate it.

It is my belief that one more executive action should take place.  It should be adding another viable option for both sides of the argument that was inexplicably omitted from the selection process with no basis or grounds that I have heard yet to this day.

The Tribe.

Here are the facts:

– From Merriam Webster:

tribe
– Please save the argument about tribe being proprietary towards indiginenous peoples, more specifically Native Americans.  It simply isn’t true or valid and is an absolute reach for an argument. The literal nature of all this and how we got to where we are should be upheld on both sides of the argument.  The Fighting Sioux name opponents were/are literal in their argument for removing the Fighting Sioux nickname.  In this instance, LITERALLY, the word “Tribe” is as all-inclusive as it gets by definition.

– The NCAA has no problem with the name “Tribe”.  William & Mary (a fellow FCS Division 1  school) was put on the same NCAA list.  Formerly known as the “Indians”, they chose to switch to the “Tribe”.  The NCAA gave its approval immediately, and they have been named as such since.  So the precedent has been set here, there are no issues with the NCAA, which is the governing body that put us in this place.  So the UND leadership and administration should also have no problem with this.  Unless of course the conspiracy theorists who believe the UND Administration is the evil behind all of this prove to be meritorious.

Now on to my thoughts on why this can work.

The nickname “Tribe” is a happy-medium middle ground for both sides of the Fighting Sioux name argument.  It allows the University to move forward from the mess that it has become and start re-branding the University from an athletics and marketing standpoint for things such as logo design and merchandise sales.  I believe the potential for both of those is huge.  This one of the core arguments for the the opponents of staying “North Dakota”.  Much of this argument lies in sales and merchandising.  As a cherry on top, it would also allow the University to finally get away from the Fighting Sioux name “officially”.

On the side of the Fighting Sioux name proponents, the die-hards are still able to maintain the principles, pride and to a certain degree, the identity of the Fighting Sioux name that they obviously hold near and dear to their hearts.  Right or wrong, you can not and will not change people’s pride in this.  So there are 2 ways to go about it, alienate them further, or work together with  them on a common goal and cause.

Hockey is obviously a big variable in all of this for a variety reasons.  Over the past few years, we have seen “Tribe” being used by not only hockey players on social media, but the rest of the athletic teams on campus also have been known to use the hash tag #RollTribe on Twitter and Facebook.  We here at SFI have also done the same.  I truly hope and believe that the Hockey fans, athletes and alumni would be open to this as a compromise for both sides.  It is my belief they should.

Talk about something that can unite all fronts on an issue that has become the most divisive issue in the history of the University.  This is it.  Quid pro quo at it’s core.

As we stated earlier, whether you like President Kelley or not, he listened to the public on this one and did what was probably the right thing with his executive decision.

We feel there’s one more executive decision he can make to help get this thing going with everyone pulling in the right direction.

Add the “Tribe” as an option for the vote.  Just offer it.

Let the vote decide it after that.

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And Then There Were Five

“When you try to please everyone, you please no one. “

The UND Nickname Committee has narrowed down the list of potential names to five.  The names that made the final five are (vote tally in parentheses):

  • Fighting Hawks (33)
  • Sundogs (40)
  • North Stars (41)
  • Nodaks (44) 
  • Roughriders (45)

Now, time to give my/our thoughts on the process, names, and everything else.

  1. The process and how we got to where we are has been flawed, to say the least, from jump street.
  2. Our top three choices for a nickname that would have made sense are not on the final five list.  There are a couple names we could get behind, however.  More talk about that later.
  3. The committee has officially forwarded the five names to Dr. Kelley and the ball is in his court.
  4. We saw they are going to undergo a form of market research on each name to see how viable it is as a nickname, logo, etc.  This would need to be outsourced creating additional cost.
  5. Voting will not take place until students are back on campus for fall semester.
  6. This “public vote” will consist of UND students/faculty, UND Alumni, Residents of North Dakota, and UND Stakeholders (ties to Alumni Association).  Makes sense.  The only part that worries us is the Residents of North Dakota getting a vote.  There are obviously going to be those that purposely choose a name they think will be the worst for UND.
  7. Don’t be surprised if Dr. Kelley eliminates a name or two before the public vote.  Voting on five names is not the best way to go about it.  25% vote could win.  Is that really the majority?
  8. The current committee has performed their job and from what I understand is officially done.  We believe they did their job, which was to provide Dr. Kelley with five names to pick from, and did it well.  They did eliminate some names early on that should have hung around, like the Aerospace related names, but so be it.  They were going to get ripped no matter what because I have yet to hear a name that everybody likes.
  9. We do not in any way, shape, or form support the choosing of the nickname “Sundogs”.  We also feel the VAST majority agree with us on this one.  VAST majority.
  10. When looking at last nights votes, it was interesting to see that current football player Dayo Idowu and current volleyball player Chelsea Moser both voted “North Dakota” lowest (7).  Idowu supported “Roughriders” (1) and Moser supported “North Stars” (1).
  11. Staying “North Dakota” was all or nothing.  It had three first-place votes and seven last-place votes.   “Roughriders” also had three first-place votes.
  12. Regarding the first sentence in this post:  The initial nickname suggestion process where anybody in the world could submit a name suggestion was an embarrassment and complete waste of time.  The all-inclusive placating slowed down the process unnecessarily.  Transparency is one thing but including everyone in something that doesn’t pertain to everyone is misguided at best; flat-out detrimental and sophomoric at worst.
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2015 Big Sky Media Day

Today out in Cedar City, UT, the Big Sky Conference will be holding it’s annual Media Day.  UND has sent Coach Bubba Schweigert and ILB Will Ratelle to represent the program.

Interviews with players and coaches begin at 10am CT today.

The Preseason All-Conference Team was announced this morning.  UND did not place anybody on the team.  Like we tweeted earlier, the Big Sky all-conference teams are always a head-scratcher.  Southern Utah finished 13th out of 13 teams in total defense, giving up 526 yards a game, yet placed 3 players on the first-team defense.  Idaho State finished 10th and placed 3 players, also.  UND’s Will Ratelle was certainly a viable candidate but didn’t make it.

The Big Sky Conference will be implementing Instant Replay this fall.  The quote reads, “Replay for football & basketball officials will be available for every game held in a Big Sky Conference venues, league Commissioner Doug Fullerton announced Saturday.  “Will be available” is the key term here.  This makes it sound like every home game for Big Sky teams, conference or non-conference, will have instant replay available to use.  We would assume that it’s for sure going to be used for conference games.

Coaches will receive one challenge per game and if successful will receive one more.  The Big Sky will have people in the booth at every game that will be the decision makers on whether a play is to be reviewed.

UND released a picture of it’s new green matte helmet for the 2015 season.  UND captain Will Ratelle is seen showing it off below.  We did a little comparison of the old sticker logo and the supposed new one but could not see many differences.  UND has said they were going to tweak it.

Helmet

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Roster Updates and Stuff

The annual #UND Football Letterwinners Golf Scramble is set to be held on Monday, July 27th at The Legends golf course in Prior Lake, MN.  There will also be a social on Sunday night at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Lakeville, MN.  This years recipients of the “Legends Award” are Dale Lian (1975-1978) and Bruce Smith (1966-1969).  Both of those gentlemen have done a ton of good for the football program and are very deserving of the award.

Another Legends golf tourney note:  We understand there has been a UND Scholarship Endowment set up in the name of Travis O’Neel, the former UND All-American linebacker who recently passed away.  His former teammates started it and will be raising funds annually starting with this year’s golf tourney, where they will be selling UND Football Under Armour golf polos with O’Neel’s name on the sleeve.  They are also taking one-time and annual pledges.  Every penny will benefit the Memorial scholarship endowment in the memory of O’Neel.  Apparently, the group involved has already blown past their fundraising goal and had to adjust it accordingly because of the outpouring of support from friends and UND alums.  Nice work to all involved!

The annual Big Sky Media Kickoff is set for this coming Monday, July 20th out in Utah.  Coach Bubba Schweigert and senior ILB Will Ratelle will be representing UND.

UND is set to open fall camp on August 6th.  First day on the field will be August 8th.

We came across a bit of bad news on Twitter recently as it appears that Class of 2015 signee Zack Williams of Winnipeg will not be joining UND this fall.  Williams will apparently now stay home and play for the University of Manitoba.  We believe it is academically related due to the late timing.  Williams, an offensive tackle, would have had an outside shot at playing this year, depending on injuries at that position.

Even though it seems like it’s getting late in the summer for roster additions, we fully expect UND to add help at the cornerback and safety positions in the next week or two.  Once again, we will update you once we hear anything.  Our twitter feed (also located on the homepage sidebar) is where we first release most information we come across.

We have not seen a game time yet for the season opener at Wyoming.  Last season the Cowboys opened up at 2pm MT vs. Montana but that game was on ROOT Sports.  We can only hope the Wyoming/UND game will be picked up by ROOT this year.

UND has opened as a 18.5 point dog to Wyoming via 5dimes.

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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.

Alonzo1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(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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