Ty Brooks 2015 Verbal Commitment #7

It’s been a busy week in the NDSU coaching offices and fall camp hasn’t even started. Five commitments have come in since Friday, led off by Braden Sikes, then Jaxon Brown Sunday, Jack Darnell on Monday
and two more on Tuesday,Bryan Carlton from Chanhassen and Fargo South’s Ty Brooks. Brooks is an electricfying player who torched defenses last season. Here’s my interview with him from last night’s Dizzo’s Den on his recruitment to NDSU.

Where To Start?

We’re a week away from NDSU opening fall camp and Monday was a busy one on the football news front. Jeff and I conducted our usual season preview interview on Monday morning, look for the TV version coming later this week, but there was a couple of nuggets out of that today to give people a heads up on.

  • Junior Brian Schaetz has battled injuries this entire summer, starting with a broken foot in June suffered during workouts that sidelined him, now a more serious ailment has crept up according to head coach Chris Klieman, a blood clot, that has Schaetz off the field indefinitely. Klieman was not sure when Schaetz would return, but that puts the Bison in a tough spot at defensive tackle, he’s the lone returning player at that position with playing experience. Nate Tanguay, Grant Morgan and Austin Farnlof all have redshirted and have yet to play in a game that counts. It appears two of those players will need a huge fall camp.
  • The second piece of news was also eye-opening and that’s the news that Klieman has toyed with the idea of having senior safety Christian Dudzik play slot wide receiver. Klieman is hoping that one of his young wide receivers either Eric Perkins or Tyler Wrice or even an incoming true freshman can step into the spot formerly occupied by Ryan Smith, but if that doesn’t happen, he says he’s not opposed to having Dudzik get snaps there. Here’s a portion of our interview specifically addressing that topic.
  • Lastly all players are accounted for and should be ready to go for the first day of camp, there’s only one player that won’t be here and that’s running back Eji Ejiya from Blaine, Minnesota who did not qualify academically. Klieman believes the 10 players that were held out of spring practice are all healthy and good to go.

It was a busy recruiting weekend for NDSU as well, picking up Braden Sikes on Friday, that was followed by two more verbals Sunday/Monday. Sunday night Eau Claire safety Jaxon Brown committed to NDSU. Brown had offers from Fordham, UND and SDSU to go along with the Bison, my interview with him from Dizzo’s Den on Monday can be heard here:

Later on Monday, the 6th verbal commitment for the Class of 2015 came in from Champlin Park defensive tackle Jack Darnell, who’s huge, 6’3, 264 pounds, who had offers from UND, Army and SDSU.


We’re just four days into the NFL Training Camp season but it appears Brock Jensen’s run with the Miami Dolphins is over. The Palm Beach Post is reporting that the all-time wins leader in FCS history was released by the Dolphins, after struggles in training and mini-camp. No preseason games have been played yet, which makes me think that Jensen has a chance to get picked up by someone else.

Lastly, Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delaney continues to make friends in the FCS ranks. He reiterated his stance about his conference eliminating games against the FCS, even after he said he knows that some FCS teams rank higher than bottom tier-FBS teams and cost less to schedule, but said it’s less about money, but more on the new strength of schedule model in the College Football Playoff. More on this on Tuesday. Enjoy and digest, the season is nearly here!

Braden Sikes: 2015 Commitment #4

We’re not yet to August and NDSU has reached four verbal commitments for the Class of 2015 after Minnetonka product Braden Sikes committed on Friday. Sikes is 6’0, 189 pounds, who will have played three different positions by the time his high school career is done, wide receiver and defensive back and he’ll play quarterback this upcoming fall. The Skipper football program has produced some solid players for NDSU in recent years, namely Josh Colville and Taylor Nelson. Here’s a portion of the interview I did with Sikes on Friday and about his recruitment.

Let’s Go Around The Country

Media Days seem to be held each day over the past two weeks as we inch closer to the start of the college football season, so I wanted to take a look at two of the top conferences in the FCS and how things are being projected.

SOUTHLAND - First off the conference expands by three teams this fall, Abilene Christian, Houston Baptist and Incarnate Word all join the league, bringing the conference to 11 teams, so that means teams will miss some schools, much like in the Missouri Valley and the Big Sky. Southeastern Louisiana is the preseason favorite in the conference, the Lions are led by Bryan Bennett at quarterback, the transfer from Oregon. He was sensational last year,

Bryan Bennett is the preseason player of the year candidate in the Southland.

some Bison fans will remember that SELA lost in the final seconds to New Hampshire at home in the FCS quarterfinals or it would have been the Lions coming to Fargo for the FCS semis. Watch week 3 and SELA’s game against Tulane, I believe we’ll see an FCS over FBS win there, intra-state game that’s big for those schools.  McNeese State is loaded as well, the Cowboys were a fluky team last year, running roughshod over South Florida, then getting blown out by Northern Iowa. Sam Houston State is picked 3rd, the Bearkats begin the college football season at Eastern Washington August 23rd, they don’t have to play SELA either this season, the team that eliminated them from the FCS playoffs last year. Incarnate Word is predicted to finish 10th, the Cardinals come to Fargo for NDSU’s home opener on September 13th.


1. SE Louisiana

2. McNeese State

3. Sam Houston State

4. Central Arkansas

5. Northwestern State

T6. Stephen F Austin


8. Abilene Christian

9. Nicholls State

10. Incarnate Word

11. Houston Baptist

CAA - After a couple of down years, the Colonial is ready to re-assert its position as the best league in the FCS. Two teams in the semifinals will help that assertion, New Hampshire and last year’s runner-up Towson and there are some new challengers to the throne that will make this one of the best races in college football this fall. New Hampshire brings nearly everyone back from a team that made a great playoff run; they were out of the playoff mix heading into the final week, then whooped Maine and made a great run to the semis, Sean Goldrich is just a junior at quarterback, and while Bison fans will remember one of his worst nights, he’s a solid signal caller and the Wildcats will be in the mix.

Sean Goldrich leads UNH as the Colonial preseason favorite.

So will the other team nicknamed Wildcats in that league, Villanova, they have been inconsistent since they won the national title and making the final four in 2010. Watch John Robertson, one of the best quarterbacks in FCS, he makes that team go, they could knock off Syracuse in their season opener to really give them a boost. The team that’s a real threat in my mind is William and Mary. Both Sean McDonnell and Rob Ambrose told me last year if there was one defense that was similar to NDSU it was the Tribe. They have their work cut out from them starting at Virginia Tech, but they should be a playoff team. Richmond and Towson figure to be in the mix, I imagine the Tigers to take a step back with the loss of Terrance West, but they still have some solid players back. The league added one team this year, Elon; out of the SoCon.

1. New Hampshire

2. Villanova

3. Richmond

4. William & Mary

5. Towson

6. Delaware

7. Maine

8. James Madison

9. Stony Brook

10. Albany

11. Rhode Island

12. Elon

More Names For Athletic Director

The deadline to apply for the open athletic director position at NDSU is tomorrow, today I received a new list of candidates for the position to go on top of the six that we had posted back on July 6th:


Jeff Tingey – Athletic Director at Idaho State

Eric Buskirk – Senior Athletic Director at UC Riverside

Daron Montgomery – Athletic Director at UW Stevens Point

Kevin Buisman – Athletic Director at MSU Mankato

Tim Mooney – Associate AD for External Operations at Idaho

David Crum – Sr. Associate AD for Development at Colorado State

Alex Kringen – Sr. Director of Development at Kansas State

Steve Becvar – Associate Athletic Director at San Diego

Ben Ellefson

NDSU landed one of its top targets for the Class of 2015 on Friday in Hawley tight end Ben Ellefson. Ellefson is huge, 6’4, 225 pounds, he’s been a constant on our First Down Friday highlight shows over the last two falls. Ellefson got plenty of attention starting this time last year when he was named MVP of NDSU’s Junior Camp. He also had some major offers as well; Wyoming, Air Force and New Mexico all had offered from the Mountain West, along with SDSU and Fordham out of the FCS. Ellefson told me it was down to Wyoming and NDSU, but the proximity to home was one of the biggest factors that decided things for him.

Hawley head coach Peder Naatz shared an interesting story with me on Ellefson’s recruiting process on Dizzo’s Den on Friday night; he said that former offensive coordinator Brent Vigen would routinely come to Hawley games for the last 15 years; just to see if there was any talent worth looking at and he told Naatz, “he didn’t want to just show up with some flashy clothes and be a big shot, because there was a big-time recruit”, that philosophy impressed not only the Hawley staff but the Ellefson family, Craig Bohl and company had put in their homework on this guy, so it says a lot that Ellefson chose NDSU over the Cowboys. You can listen to my interview with Ben below, also some video highlights accompany it as well. Ellefson becomes the 3rd verbal for the Class of 2015; joining Jake Brinkman from Iowa and Derek Tuszka from Warner, South Dakota.


Decisions And Dates

The NCAA made a couple of decisions early this week under the radar that could have a major impact on the FCS. First up the Sports Management Cabinet approved a change to the Simple Ratings System (for those that forgot, that’s the FCS version of the BCS rankings, that the playoff committee takes into account for seeding and selecting playoff teams, it also had Eastern Illinois ranked ahead of NDSU in its final rankings last year) by standardizing the amount of games teams play in making a decision on how to rank teams. Last year the committee did not standardize if teams played 11 or 12 games, so we could see this being a large factor come later in the season, depending on how tough your schedule is and who you play and when you play them.

There was a second change put forth by the football committee to the SRS, and that was margin of victory. The committee proposed capping margin of victory formula to be capped at 21 points to discourage teams from running up the score to improve their position in the rankings, but that was not approved.

Lastly, the committee approved raising the minimum money guarantee for schools to host 2nd round, quarterfinal and semifinal games in the FCS playoffs. They raised it to 40 K for the 2nd, 50 K for the quarters and 60 K for the semis.

It will now cost schools more money to host FCS 2nd round, quarterfinal and semifinal games.

This could potentially be a huge deal for teams that don’t draw like NDSU or UNI that want to host a playoff game in the early rounds, you could see teams with better records possibly playing on the road in the early rounds because they can’t afford to lose money by hosting. Schools that only average 5K for home games very well could have been priced out by this decision. Gene Taylor and NDSU went way over the minimum the last time the Bison were unseeded heading into the FCS playoffs in 2010, getting them a first home game at the Fargodome against Robert Morris. I think it’s something that bears watching as we get closer to Selection Sunday in November.

Finally we’re starting to piece together the basketball schedules for the men and women’s teams for this upcoming winter at Scheels Arena and the BBF, got a few dates to put out there, the full conference schedule will be revealed by the Summit League on Monday and Wednesday:

MEN - 11/5 – Minot State; 11/21 + 11/22 – 2 K Classic Home Games; 11/25 – UM Crookston; 11/30 – at Montana State; 12/13 – North Dakota; 12/16 – Akron (payback of Bracketbuster); 12/21- Kent State (El Paso); 12/22 – Alcorn State/UTEP;  12/28  - Northland College (D3 Wisconsin school); 1/2 – Oral Roberts (doubleheader); 1/4 – SDSU (doubleheader); 1/16 – Western Illinois, 1/29 – Denver; 2/5 – Denver; 2/7 – USD; 2/19 – IUPUI, 2/21 – Fort Wayne

WOMEN  - 11/7 – Bemidji State; 11/14 – Kent State; 11/16 – Milwaukee; 12/6 – UND(Scheels Arena); 12/8 – Mayville State; 1/2 – ORU (Scheels); 1/4 – SDSU (Scheels); 1/8 – IUPUI; 1/17 – Fort Wayne; 2/6 – Western Illinois; 2/8 – USD; 2/14 – Omaha; 2/26 – Denver

There’s one change from what I reported earlier; the UND games are no longer a doubleheader at Scheels Arena, the women playing on December 6th, the men’s game on December 13th. The men’s non-conference still has a couple of headline games to fill, including at Southern Mississippi; women going to Mississippi State as well. We’ll keep you updated.


The Return

The summer vacation was needed and brief and now the countdown to the start of a new football season can really begin. We’re still trying to get as much info as we can on the search for a new athletic director at NDSU, but not much is coming out now. Gene Taylor is here in Fargo until the end of July, and the goal all along that Dean Bresciani had was to have a new AD in place by the time the new athletic year begins, which is the middle to end of August; we’ll keep you updated.

Last week, the Sports Network unveiled its preseason All-Americans for 2014, NDSU did not get a player on the first team, while Colten Heagle made 2nd team with Carlton Littlejohn and Christian Dudzik were selected to the 3rd team. I know these lists are put out at this time of year just to make for debate, so I’ll indulge for a second, how in the world Kyle Emanuel and Zach Vraa were left off any of these teams is a mystery to me.

Kyle Emanuel was left off Sports Network’s Preseason All-American Lists, despite 47 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2013.

Emanuel’s stats were terrific, 47 tackles, 10 for loss, racking up 7.5 sacks, he’s been a defensive force since his redshirt freshman season (look up 2011 game vs UNI). Vraa had a record setting season for the Bison last year, 67 receptions, 1,191 yards and 15 TDs, he became a threat that required double-teams thru the 2nd half of the season and will command that again at the start of this season. We’ll see how the rankings stand at the end of the year.

If you need a football fix, this Sunday is the North Dakota Shrine Bowl at the Fargodome, WDAY will be televising the game for the first time, you can watch LIVE on our alternate channel 6-3 or 8-3 in Grand Forks, or you can watch online at WDAY.com. All six of NDSU’s incoming freshmen are playing in this game (Eric Bachmeier, Stanley Jones, Levi Jordheim, Levi Hoiby, Tanner Volson and Luke Bacon) for many this will be your first look at these guys before they arrive at camp in early August.

One last note, since our Top 10 moments was such a hit, we have another video segment starting next week that I think people will really enjoy before the start of football season, but I don’t need to remind everyone to check the blog out daily for that. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer, we are 54 days away from the start of the season, Iowa State will be debuting a new look helmet for NDSU and Fox Sports 1 on August 30th:


Changing Up

First off thanks to everyone that read and commented on the blog over the last two weeks on our countdown of top moments this school year, understand that some disagreed with what we selected, but that was the fun part about it. We’ll have another video countdown coming in the next two weeks that will get people geared up for the start of the football season that I think you’ll enjoy.

As many know July 1 signifies the start of a new school year and it also signifies the start date of many schools switching leagues. While this year there isn’t nearly as many as there have been in past years, there are still some that have direct and indirect impact on NDSU.

Oral Roberts marks its return to the Summit League today.


The Golden Eagles return to the Summit League after a two year run in the Southland Conference. The immediate impact is obvious in basketball, despite the fact that ORU hasn’t won the conference tournament title since NDSU or SDSU became eligible in 2009. But their track record adds credibility to a league that suddenly looks a bit better than it did two years ago. Oral Roberts is coming off two average seasons, 17-16 this past season, 20-15 the year before with a trip to the CIT quarters. The impact isn’t just in men’s basketball, women’s basketball has been a consistently solid squad, women’s golf and volleyball have been good and baseball has been off the charts dominating, winning 15 consecutive titles before leaving in 2012. The Eagles bring the Summit League to 9 schools for 2014-15, 8 eligible for the postseason, Omaha is still in its transition, the most important sport for ORU to have an impact on is baseball, that brings the league to six and  keeps its NCAA requirement to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.


The Mountaineers and Eagles started their transition last year, but are now full fledged members of the Sun Belt as of today. There’s no denying that Bison fans will be fully plugged into how ASU and GSU perform this fall considering the success they had at the FCS level. Each are still trying to get into the recruiting game and get up to speed with the rest of the conference, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State were the class of the league last year and the additions of New Mexico State and Idaho are certainly not going to bulk up the strength. It’s not unreasonable to think that these two schools can be contenders in the league and even make a bowl within a couple of years(ineligible till 2015). Mark your calendars for September 25th, the two schools play each other as FBS teams for the first time on a Thursday night on ESPNU.


For a while the Southern Conference could argue they were the best league in the FCS with App State winning three national titles in a row and Georgia Southern being a consistent title contender. Those days are a long way off now with those two gone, and that doesn’t count Davidson, the conference’s best in basketball leaving for the A-10. Elon is leaving for the Colonial with a 10-24 record after the last three years. What’s left? Two schools NDSU knows well; Wofford and Furman, it’s safe to say those are the two that will challenge yearly for the auto-bid(throw Chattanooga into the mix as well). The league adds three teams today, Mercer, VMI and East Tennessee State, Mercer is famous for its 1st round upset of Duke this year in the NCAA basketball tournament; they just brought football back and had been playing non-scholarship in the Pioneer League. VMI has been struggling in the Big South for years and ETSU will be bringing back football in 2015 and playing at a high school field for the first two years they return. The league took the biggest hits of realignment, this could easily be a one-bid league for the FCS playoffs in 2014 and possibly for the foreseeable future.


The biggest cautionary tale out there for moving from FCS to FBS belongs to Idaho. The Vandals saw their league disintegrate around them (the WAC) and were left without a football home. Idaho’s AD has resisted all overtures about going back to FCS but it seems inevitable to not just me, but Doug Fullerton, the commissioner of the Big Sky. Idaho re-joins the Big Sky today in all sports, but one, football, where they join the Sun Belt and its nearest rival is New Mexico State. They were left on a geographical island and that’s one of the biggest reasons against a move up if you’re NDSU or Northern Iowa. You had better have some geographical allies before you go.

Those are the schools that have some impact with NDSU that are moving today, if you can figure out who’s in Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference, you’re really doing well!

Jake Brinkman

We hope everyone is enjoying our Countdown of the top moments of 2013-14, for some wondering it’s the “top” moments not “best”, so it’s more headline making stuff that we were judging by.

Now for some news, NDSU’s individual elite camp was held over the weekend, that’s become a big one for the Bison, where they have picked up quite a few recruits in recent years, they got their first of 2015 in Iowa City linebacker Jake Brinkman. Brinkman goes to Regina High School, his team has 56 games in a row, he’s 6’0, 205 pounds and is a big time prospect at linebacker. I visited with him earlier today about his visit to Fargo and what made him choose NDSU over other schools.