UND’s Early Class Huge In Terms Of Big Sky, Average In Dakotas

With this year being the first edition of the early signing period where recruits can be signed to college football programs before Christmas rather than the first Wednesday in February, 2018 was bound to produce some surprises.

One surprise, at least at the FCS level, is the apparent difference in strategy based on geography.

UND’s class of 20 is massive in comparison to Big Sky Conference foes. UND’s 20 kids was easily the biggest group.

Montana State had 16 players, while Montana had 15.

Weber State and Northern Colorado didn’t announce one kid. None. I didn’t see that coming.

After I saw Weber didn’t announce anyone today, I looked around at the Big Sky and really it wasn’t that far off the norm.

Portland State had two, Cal Poly and Northern Arizona had four, Sacramento State had five, Southern Utah and Idaho State had six, Eastern Washington had eight, UC Davis had 10 and Idaho had 12.

Weber State coach Jay Hill had some comments in his local paper explaining the lack of a signing day. He pointed to the team’s playoff run eating up recruiting time, a limited amount of roster turnover and the fact that some walk-ons had earned scholarships during the playoff run.

His other point was probably the biggest. He said a lot of the guys he’s recruiting are waiting on FBS offers, so they’re waiting for the trickle down.

UND could never handle the early signing period that way because they’d get killed in the Midwest.

South Dakota signed just 13 but North Dakota State (24) and South Dakota State (21) had classes on size par with UND.

So what do people think are the reasons for the huge difference between the Dakota schools (and Montanas, I suppose) and the rest of the Big Sky Conference?

Do fewer players in the Midwest blur the FCS/FBS line? Do the Dakota schools do a better job locking up kids early through elite summer camps? I’m curious what people think.



17 Responses

  1. Joe

    Just take a look at the recent Fargo South RBs. One went to the Big 10 and had 3 head coaches. The other went to develop at the best FCS program. The numbers speak for themselves this year

    1. Dave

      I think he may be trying to say is kids in the Upper Midwest aren’t as concerned with waiting on an FBS offer because of the quality of FCS teams in the area. So they be more inclined to take an FCS offer in the early signing period than kids in other parts of the country.

    1. Tom

      That’s a good question. I think it’s more need but also I think you’ll see the next period of recruiting class be the skill guys. I think it was just by chance that they haven’t locked up QB, RB and WR needs in the early period.

  2. Pretty

    Hey Tom, Kleiman stated that they offered a ton more kids during their summer camp and during dead period in the summer after the camps they still recruited pretty hard and I think he said they had several summer campus visits which didn’t happen in the past. Not sure if this is what your looking for either?!

  3. The only thing that i can think might be the location where those schools primarily recruit (West Coast – Weber currently has 23 kids from CA). There are more FBS schools around so there is a likelihood that more of those fringe FBS/FCS players are still being recruited up until signing day. That doesn’t really exist in the Dakota’s and Minnesota. With the only school being the UofM the recruits might know their chances of being FBS scholly or walkon earlier in the process.

  4. Guest

    Tom who do you think are the highest caliber players in this years class? Waletzko and Bruner are two guys who really stick out to me. Seems like they both could’ve played at some bigger schools, but chose UND anyway. Victor Isaak is another guy who I think was somewhat over looked by places like NDSU and UM and I think could be a big time player for us. This is all just a fan’s perspective though, so I’m curious to hear what you think

    1. Tom

      I agree with Bruner. He obviously had the skills to peak the interest of Iowa, which is a good sign. I liked the film on the junior college safety Hayden Galvin. I think both Waletzko and Slater could be good gets, although it’s tough for me to project OL. Unless they’re Elijah Grady, it takes some time to figure it out at the FCS level and get to the right frame and strength. I wrote about Garett Maag at wide receiver and C.J. Siegel at corner. Siegel is a skinny kid without much experience at corner but he’s an elite athlete. If I had to pick a wildcard, I like the wide receiver out of Dickinson Trinity. He’s a taller body with 200-meter state track speed. That’s a good combo.

  5. Guest

    Yeah fair enough, O-Line seems to be a tough position to evaluate. Maag and Siegel are both names I overlooked, especially Maag since he had that PWO offer with Minnesota. I know you mentioned UND’s still looking to add some skill position players (QB, RB) but are you aware of any names in particular we should be watching?

    1. Tom

      I’m not aware of any quarterbacks they’re on. I’m keeping my eye on a couple of University of Minnesota transfer linebackers and a running back that they’ve offered out of Missouri, who has a really good tape. I believe his name is Phillip Brooks.

  6. Matt

    UND secured its class for different reasons than NDSU or SDSU. First, it had no playoffs to get in the way of recruiting. Being able to get in front of kids has obvious advantages. Second, very few of UNDs recruits were a concern to hold out for FBS offers (I know one was lost to San Diego State) let alone other FCS schools as many were only sitting on one legit FCS offer (UND).

    SDSU, and NDSU secured large classes for a totally different reason. I.E. Winning. They have made deep runs in the playoffs and have won a lot of games over the last 5 years. It’s much easier to secure recruits when you have a history of winning. UND just doesn’t have that right now.

    USD had a very good season this year, however, they are and have been for many years lagged far behind the rest of the Dakota schools in football facilities and do not have a history of winning. I think that was a huge reason for their smaller class. It looks as though they will receive the much needed funding to improve the Dakota dome, locker rooms, etc, which should make them more competitive.

    I know summer camps play a huge role for each school, but I have no clue what the percentage of signed kids went to each camp so it’s tough for me to say how much impact that has but I know it’s very significant just listening to the coaches talk about their recruiting classes from year to year.

    That’s my opinion for what it’s worth.

    1. Tom

      If it was just about winning and a lack of a playoff run, I don’t understand why Northern Colorado didn’t announce anyone. I appreciate your points, but I think the Bison fan narrative here is a little overblown.

      1. Dave

        I think anyone in the FCS that had a committed recruit they were happy with would jump at the chance to sign them in the early signing period, regardless of who they are or what their record was. Why take a chance on losing a kid by letting them hang out there another few weeks?

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