Mr. FCS has to admit, he loves how North Dakota State recruits.
Why? Because with NDSU, it's not as much about chasing Big Ten kids and hoping to steal some 4-star guy Iowa or Wisconsin coveted as it is about finding the round peg for the round hole–and nobody else in the FCS even comes close to doing it as well as the Bison. Just like the on-field product, the Bison have a recipe that mixes finding a guy that fits their unique system of doing things, while also adding rare depth (for the FCS) by enticing prospects with other scholarship offers to instead take a preferred walk-on spot at NDSU.
That is true recruiting power right there, folks.
So in the end, they're creating that rare FCS depth while also keeping talent from going to other rival schools (NOTE: South Dakota and North Dakota have actually offered full rides to some of NDSU's walk-ons). Five consecutive national titles will help you put this recruiting machine in place. In a way, it's almost like the FCS version of what the old superpowers of big-time football used to do when there weren't really scholarship limitations: Sign as many guys as you can so they won't go somewhere else and come back to beat you. They'd rather say they played backup roles at Alabama, Notre Dame or Texas than being a second stringer at some other school, right?
Before I get to my Wednesday conversations with three NDSU commits/signees (depends on what hour it is today) … I must say this: I usually don't include preferred walk-ons in team recruiting lists, but Joe Haeg makes me think that I'd be wise to recognize the walk-on talent this staff is bringing on, along with the ones signing scholarships. So let's just call it the Joe Haeg Rule–you have to acknowledge the walk-ons at NDSU, because most likely one or more of them will be developed into an all-conference (or more) performer by the time they leave Fargo. Haeg was a walk-on when he came aboard in 2011. After redshirting during the 2011 season, putting on good weight and learning the system, he immediately was inserted into the starting lineup in 2012. The rest is history, folks. He could be the No. 2 FCS prospect taken in the NFL Draft behind his good buddy on offense, QB Carson Wentz.
So, uh, yeah … we're including the walk-ons as if they're NDSU signees. No different, no separation.
So what's the big recent news with North Dakota State on this fine National Signing Day–the national holiday for college football nuts? Well, this week junior college DB Darren Kelley could have picked Toledo or two other FBS schools and played in bowl games. But really, why go play for Toledo in the Marmot Bowl or go 3-9 at Texas State when you can win national titles in Frisco, Texas, right?
EDITOR'S NOTE: And what in the bleepin' blue blazes is a Marmot doing as the name of a bowl game? Did they run out of reptiles, desert fauna and citrus fruits to name all 103 bowls games after? I know Marmot is actually a company, but I can't get my mind off the rodent right now. What's next, the Arctic Shrew Bowl in Winnepeg?
OK, I'll shut up and let Darren talk.
"It hit me yesterday, man," Kelley told HERO Sports on Wednesday morning. "It was hard for me to choose NDSU over three other FBS schools but I knew in my heart it was the right decision. I'm 100 percent humbled and honored to be welcomed to the Bison family."
O-lineman Dillon Radunz, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound brawler from Minnesota (sounds eerily similar to fellow North Star State product Haeg, right?) said the class comaraderie won't start this fall. It began long ago.
"I'm fortunate enough to go to NDSU as an athlete, but also I get to do it with this class of dudes," Radunz told HERO Sports on Wednesday morning. "They are crazy talented in their positions. I know the 2K16 Bison recruits are ready to put in the work to compete at the Division I level. I'm now officially a Bison and I can't wait to battle and compete with my Bison family."
Fellow DB recruit Moses Nyangacha, HERO Sports' go-to quote for the NDSU class all year, acknowledged he was bummed by the recent losses of Bryce Torneden to Kansas University and Gabe Lloyd to the University of Wisconsin (both schools were much closer to home), but he loves how it is all shaking out, overall. Nyangacha also acknowledged the walk-ons, saying that he's watched their film and is very impressed, and actually played against WR walk-on Cole Jacob and stated that the receiver can play some ball.
"I'll be honest, it was rough losing Bryce and Gabe in about a week, both of those guys were with us since the beginning but we're all happy for them both," Nyangacha told HERO Sports on Wednesday morning. "That being said, this 2016 class is going to be special for the Bison. We've got athletes at almost every position coming in, but more importantly we all have the same mindset that we're going to come in and win multiple championships during our years as Bison. We're a really tight group, those guys are like my brothers already. I enjoyed the recruiting process but I'm definitely glad that it's over and that I ended up at a school I feel comfortable at.
"And to the Bison fans … get ready for more winning and trips to Frisco because this 2016 class won't disappoint."
No need to say more.