It’s certainly too early for a thorough evaluation of Chris Klieman’s first recruiting class, but let’s give it a shot. Klieman was actually the head coach for only a little more than a month so you really can’t put it all on him, but the Klieman staff did have to go back and re-sell the program after Craig Bohl left after the 2013 national championship game. When Bohl left, every player was unofficially a free agent of sorts since they had yet to sign a letter of intent. It appears the Klieman staff was able to reaffirm the verbal commitments. So how are these players stacking up?
NDSU signed 21 scholarship players and had eight preferred walkons on the first Wednesday of February in 2014. I’m going to gauge initial success not so much statistically but on how often their names get brought up in press conferences, informal talks and general banter around the team. Of the 21 scholarship players, 13 have already made their way to either the two-deep chart or a threat to reach the two-deep chart. Four have started at least one game: running back King Frazier (the only transfer), cornerback Jalen Allison, defensive end Greg Menard and wide receiver R.J. Urzendowski. Wide receiver Darrius Shepherd (No. 20 in the picture above) and running back Lance Dunn have made significant contributions with Shepherd the upstart player of the class lately. Seven others appear close to seeing the field, in at least a limited role: offensive linemen Luke Bacon, Colin Conner, Tanner Volson and Christian Triplett, defensive end Stanley Jones, linebacker Dan Marlette and quarterback Easton Stick. I get the impression conerback Dakota Reid may see the field a lot next year.
This list does not include walkon linebacker Levi Jordheim and defensive tackle Aaron Steidl with Steidl on his way to being a regular contributor. That’s 15 players in this class who are setting their table to playing a lot in the coming years. As thin as some of the older classes are because of attrition, this one has a chance to make up for it. Moreover, six players from this year’s true freshmen class have either had their redshirt pulled or are or were in serious consideration to play right away. Those playing are running back Bruce Anderson, kicker Cam Pedersen, safety Robbie Grimsley and receiver/kick returner Dimitri Williams. Still in the mix are cornerback Dom Davis and receiver Marquise Bridges. That’s a pretty good start on this class being a hit, also.