This is the start of an evaluation of the 2013 recruiting class, with Mr. Izzo’s comments to come later. He’ll have head coach Craig Bohl on live at WDAY-6 at 6:20 tonight.
JEFF’s TAKE: I’m not one to get too giddy over these things, but this class addressed linebacker in a big way. I think at least two of these guys will play right away with Matt Plank from Gardner, Pierre Gee-Tucker from Belleville, Ill., and Alex Hahn from Oak Creek, Wis., as prime candidates. For starters, linebackers make the best special teams players with the combination of size and speed.
Hahn is a power lifter who made the state Wisconsin finals in the long jump last year — a good indicator of athletic ability. I like the background of James Gates from Menomonie, Wis., although at 200 pounds might be a tad light to see the field right away. We’ll see — Travis Beck isn’t exactly a huge guy. Gates is considered an excellent edge rusher as is Gee-Tucker.
It will be interesting to see if Nick DeLuca from Omaha stays at linebacker. He’s big at 6-3 and 240 pounds. “A big, strong guy who runs well,” Bohl said. My thought: defensive end? And safety Chris Board from Orlando, Fla., has film that shows him hitting like a Mack truck. He’s around 210 pounds and could fill into the shoes of an outside linebacker with some additional strength training.
Because of the large senior class next year, I see at least four true freshmen playing right away. The offensive line appears solid with depth so it’s doubtful Austin Kuhnert from Sioux Falls, Jesse Kubik from Dickinson or Zack Ziemer from Lakeville, Minn., will see the field. With the early departure of Justin Juckem because of injury, a defensive tackle may have a chance. In this group, that would be Nick Jacobsen from Prescott, Wis., Nathan Tanguay from Mukwonago, Wis. or Grant Morgan from Oshkosh, Wis. Jacobsen appears to be the most physically ready.
So where does this class stack up with others? That’s a game I’m not going to get into. There’s a story out there that says of the 100 top prospects in the country from a few years ago, only 40 percent were considered to have made it.
DOM’S TAKE: First for those that live out of the viewing area; here’s what Bohl told me about this class on WDAY 6 News tonight. Initially looking at these guys on paper; the first thing that comes to my mind is these guys are huge; it seems like every player is 6’3 or bigger, 260 pounds or bigger and that will attract bigger schools to those players. For the FBS schools they can use how many stars that Rivals dishes out to say how good the class will be, for the FCS we can use how many players had FBS offers; to my knowledge; NDSU grabbed 4 guys that had FBS offers from what I was told (Ziemer; Jacobsen, DeLuca and Tucker) that’s impressive on it’s own merit. What’s also impressive is the closing kick that NDSU had in this class; the final 2 weeks brought in maybe the headliners of this class; starting with the 6’3 DeLuca; to Matt Plank at 6’2, 215, to Tre Dempsey and Chris Board from Florida and ending with Pierre-Gee Tucker out of Illinois; who by Craig Bohl’s count had 12 offers from different schools.
The story surrounding Tucker was unreal and Jeff did a great job of recapping yesterday of the struggles that Tucker went thru to make up his mind, evidently staying up till 2 am and then texting Bohl to say he was coming to NDSU; for the Bison this is a huge get in an area that has tremendous Missouri Valley traffic and it’s out of the usual axis for the Bison(Minneapolis-North Dakota-South Dakota). Just think in Illinois there are 3 Valley schools to begin with; Southern Illinois; Illinois State and Western Illinois; then there’s the MAC champs in Northern Illinois; and that’s not mentioning Northern Iowa; which also likes that area. This change of heart only will antagonize things further between NDSU and Northern Iowa fans and it’s already well established there’s no love lost between the 2 coaching staffs.
I was struck that Bohl said several of these guys will play right away next year; now do we need to define several? Jeff said 4, I’ll say 5 or 6 guys can see the field and obviously linebacker is the spot that the Bison need the biggest help in my opinion. If I’m just guessing I’d say Brad Ambrosius; Nick DeLuca; Pierre Gee-Tucker; Alex Hahn, Nick Jacobsen and Nate Tanguay are my six candidates to play next year with an asterisk next to Tyler Wrice; who could be another Ryan Smith in the wide receiver corps. There are couple of under the radar guys that I think could be really good in a year’s time in Austin Kuhnert; Tre Dempsey and Chase Morlock; I think all could be scary good after a year in the weight room and with NDSU coaches. I’ve seen it already from the 2012 class in Jack Plankers and MJ Stumpf; who are two guys that I think could have big springs for the Bison.
Jeff wasn’t ready to get into how this class stacks up with past classes; but I will(since we all know my predictions are always on); I think this is the best class NDSU has put together since 2010. The last two classes in my mind have been about building depth to augment a class that they believe could knock it out of the park and I believe this is the class that could do it. I’m not saying ’11 and ’12 are clunkers, but we have detailed the attrition rates from those two (four gone from 2012; six from 2011 – Frank Veldman, Joe Horvath, Ryan Stanford, Berkley Grimm, Josh Lisenby and DeShawn Dinwiddie) That’s why this class needed to have some “home-run hitters” and I believe they found them. For those that think the cupboard may be bare come 2014; here are some of the names that will be juniors or seniors that season: Gebhart; CJ Smith, Carson Wentz; LeCompte, Keller, Heagle(I believe he’ll get a medical redshirt for this past season; making 13 his redshirt junior; then ’14 a senior); Crockett; Champion, Dudzik, Littlejohn, Emanuel, Beck, Colville and Hardie. Impressive names that played a lot in 2012 and will be “the guys” when this class is ready to start making an impact in 2014.