Now that the crazy, whirlwind recruiting season is behind us for another year we thought we would do a recap of the group and give our opinions and whatever else comes up. This year was even more condensed and accelerated than normal.. UND ended up signing 27 total players, including preferred walk-ons. For all of you wondering what the “preferred” part of preferred walk-on means, it means that they are part of the initial group that begins fall camp come August. They are basically the same as every other player, they just didn’t receive money. And believe us, they are just as important as the rest and can easily become contributing players in the program, some of which will eventually earn a scholarship.
Our overall grade of the 2014 Class: B. We give it a B based on the fact they were able to pull it together so quickly, essentially putting the class together in a little under a month, getting a handful of nice players but losing out on a handful of others. Coach Schweigert has been on record saying that they needed to get faster on defense and bigger on offense. We feel the staff addressed some of this need in the 2014 signing class. Here is a bullet list look at our thoughts on it:
- The UND staff worked their tails off in the month of January to get this whole thing to come together. Between the multiple trips to Detroit (driving) and the canvassing the states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan, they did about all they could to get this class to where it’s at.
- This is the first class we can recall where multiple players had FBS offers. We counted a total of 6 signees that at one point had an FBS offer. They were Taylor (New Mexico), Simmons (Georgia State), Greeley (Air Force), Walker (Kent State), Studsrud (South Alabama), and Carter (Buffalo).
- When looking at our map of the where the players came from, 17 players came from ND, MN, and WI. Right on.
- Got to give credit to the previous staff for locking up the four commitments that proved to the the backbone of this class. As recruiting went on into January, it turned out that guys like Ferguson and Montague were getting recruited by other schools (specifically an FCS school REALLY close to UND) looking to get in late on them and they didn’t waver. Ferguson in particular, received a full offer from the other school and stuck with UND.
- It is quite obvious they are putting an emphasis on the running game. They signed two potential fullbacks (Walton & Coyne) and three potential tight ends (Fiedler, Cieslak, Stanley). We see Cieslak ending up as a tight end/H-back type. While Stanley could very well start out at WR, if and when he grows out of that position, he and Fiedler could end up being the athletic, seam-running physical match-up problem that UND has been been missing at TE.
- The coaches stated they wanted good football players, regardless of position. It was too late in the process to fully evaluate the roster so they decided to go after the players and not the position.
- There was a definite focus on the special teams batteries with a punter, 2 kickers and a long snapper all being on the list. Getting Jacob Holmen as a long snapper was a good pickup for UND. They had issues at this position last season and to get a high-quality, highly ranked LS like Holmen was just what they needed. He graded out fairly well in the Kohls camps.
- Cornerback was a position of need and they addressed it very well. Chris Carter is going to be a player for UND and adding in two big, strong athletes in Deion Harris and Joe Montague is going to help solidify that position. They are not done yet, though. Still need more quality and depth at corner.
- Offensive line needs depth and they got two good one’s in Francis and Stiner. Both had other FCS offers (SIU – Francis, SDSU & WIU – Stiner). Aplin and Beck could also both be additions to this position group that would help add depth.
- The recruiting ties that this staff had is the only reason it came out as well as it did. They pulled quality guys from unlikely spots like Detroit, Orlando, Missouri, and California. We can’t remember anyone from the state of Michigan being on UND’s roster.
- Speaking of not being done, Coach Schweigert has stated on more than one occasion that UND is not done recruiting and will continue to recruit into spring and summer.
- A reason why they will continue to recruit is they are heading into spring ball with only 62 players. That is about 10-15 short of the normal amount. Factor in attrition from kids not liking how it went in spring ball, etc. and they are going to need add 30-35 new faces to the program come August.
- We fully expect an FBS transfer or two in May. This staff has a history of getting FBS transfers from their time in Carbondale and they already alluded to it in interviews.
Biggest “Gets” (just a handful of recruits that stand out to our amateur eyes based on need, talent and the potential to contribute early)
- Demon Taylor – 6’3″ – 280 – St. Louis, MO – Taylor had multiple offers and is a big man with great feet. He is from an under the radar school so it is hard to find a ton of info on him but he is probably one of the best talents in this class. Huge upside for this kid as a nose guard. We hear they list him as an OL, but think he projects better on defense.
- Chris Carter – 5’10” – 185 – Bloomfield Hills, MI – Watching Carter’s highlight tape is like watching an instructional video on how to play corner. The kid has been taught well by somebody. Probably the most technical corner I have ever watched on film. Aggressive too, which he will need to be as he is only 5’10”.
- Cedric Simmons – 6’1″ – 215 – Mesa, AZ (Mesa CC) – Combo back that will provide UND with a threat that can run inside and out. Needed him to shore up the RB spot. Will be a great complement to what UND already has on the depth chart at RB.
- Keaton Studsrud – 6’2″ – 185 – St. Louis Park, MN – Very athletic, fast QB whose throwing mechanics are a work in progress. Not bad but will need to be refined. His speed and athleticism are outstanding and ideal for Coach Rudolph’s offense.
- Jacob Francis – 6’4″ – 280 – Liberty, MO – A quick, physical guard who also played H-back for his high school team. Very good feet when asked to reach or seal the defender.
- Chris Hannible – 6’0″ – 190 – Bakersfield, CA – The JUCO safety transfer will be expected to be in the rotation day 1 in fall camp at a position that has struggled as of late. He will be at a disadvantage for not having spring ball to get to know the defense, but anything less will be a disappointment and we think if the mental progression falls in line, he should be a starter at one of the safety by midseason at the latest.
We realize and understand there are a few others that deserve to be on the above list, but decided to just cut the list to 6 names.
Biggest “Misses” (players they had recruited and were in the running for but lost out on late)
- Ezra Szczyrbak – Moose Lake, MN – UND came in hard with the new staff and got him to de-commit from NDSU but were not able to fend off Northern Iowa and Bryce Paup, who also came in hard on him and won his services at the finish line. No way of sugarcoating this one – this “miss” probably hurts most. A big DL from northern Minnesota at a big position of need. The late start definitely had an effect here.
- Luke Elsner – Seymour, WI – By all accounts UND was in his final 2-3 and his last visit was to UTEP, an FBS program, but a pretty average one. He ended up liking it and committed to the Miners leaving UND without yet another big physical defensive lineman. This one felt very similar to the Stendler situation last year at DE, who ended up at Northern Illinois at the buzzer.
- Marcell Kellum – LaGrange, IL – He was committed to UND but the night before signing day decided against playing college football and is going to just attend college as a student. Suffice it to say, huge surprise and disappointment for the UND staff. He is a very talented wide receiver who would have been a difference-maker for UND early on.
- Preston Woods – South St. Paul, MN – The big noseguard prospect ended up signing with UNI after UND had been wooing him in early January. He never ended up visiting campus, but we believe he was high on UND’s list at a big position of need. UND was just too far behind in the game when they started recruiting him.
- Tim Gordon – the Cretin-Derham Hall cornerback was high on the priority list for a variety of reasons. Raiders Coach Mike Scanlan has a good track record of sending kids to Grand Forks in the last 8 years or so. Gordon ended up signing with FBS school Eastern Michigan in the MAC after originally committing to UNI, but in the end this loss was marginalized by the Carter, Harris and Montague signings. Another obvious casualty of getting a late start on the recruiting trail here.
- Stanley Jones – Bismarck, ND – No doubt would have had a better chance at the standout defensive player had the current staff been in place earlier in the process. Jones chose to stick to his word and honor his NDSU verbal after UND came after him early in January and made him think about it long and hard. Jones was scheduled for a campus visit, but weather and his basketball schedule ultimately stopped that from happening. Kid will be a good player.