Bulldog Football Signs 26 Recruits

The Bulldog football program signed 26 high school seniors on National Signing Day to complete their 2015 recruiting class. Unsurprisingly, all but three of the incoming Bulldogs hail from Minnesota or Wisconsin. But the signing of the other three players — who are from Illinois and Colorado — could be an example of the program’s expanding recognition as one of the top Division II football programs in the nation.

What did come as a surprise, however, was the lack of local recruits.

Kole Zuidmulder, a Hermantown High School senior, is the only recruit from the Twin Ports area. The 6-foot-5-inch, 225-pound Zuidmulder received playing time as a quarterback, placekicker, safety and defensive end for the Hawks, but will play tight end for the Bulldogs.

“He’s been a leader in Hermantown and in the community,” UMD Head Coach Curt Wiese said. “I think he’ll fit well into our offense. He’s certainly a guy I see playing early on in his career.”

Zuidmulder earned offensive player of the year for the Sea Range Conference, as well as a spot on the Duluth News Tribune’s 2014 All-Area team this past fall after throwing for 1,108 yards. The Duluth News Tribune reported last week that Zuidmulder intends on also playing baseball at UMD.

Many of the 2015 recruits came from high schools well-known to the Bulldog football program, and to each other. Pairs of recruits from five different high school programs make up nearly half of the incoming players.

UMD’s success on the football field over the last decade — highlighted by two national championships — has helped them lure top players from the same high school programs in Wisconsin and Minnesota, year after year.

“The guys that had an opportunity to win a national championship are back in their high schools, spreading the word about UMD football and the community of Duluth,” Wiese said. “It’s important to build relationships, and sometimes those will lead to recruiting paths for you in the future.”

Although the three signees from outside the upper Midwest are deviations from the program’s regional “recruitment pipelines,” Wiese said that recruiting local players was still a top priority.

But no matter where they are from, the 2015 recruits will call Duluth home this fall. Just don’t expect to see them in games — most of them will be redshirted in order to save a year of eligibility while they adjust to being college-athletes.

“Having an opportunity to compete in the classroom as well, and then being able to do it at 3 o’clock in the afternoon throughout the football season — that’s a big challenge for these guys coming in,” Wiese said. “But again, we’ve done our homework on these guys and we’re confident we have a really good group.”


Statesman Correspondent


Player Pos Ht Wt Hometown (High School)
Tommy Anderson OL 6-3 290 Apple Valley, Minn. (Eastview H.S.)
Bill Atkins DB 6-1 185 Minnetonka, Minn. (Hopkins H.S.)
Dan Bartels OL 6-3 290 Franklin, Wis. (Franklin H.S.)
John Birkholz LB 6-3 205 Rosemount, Minn. (Rosemount H.S.)
Dom Conway RB 5-10 170 De Pere, Wis. (West De Pere H.S.)
Nick Eliason WR 6-5 190 Andover, Minn. (Andover H.S.)
Isaac Erdmann LB 6-0 210 Menasha, Wis. (Menasha H.S.)
Ben Everhart QB 6-2 205 Eau Claire, Wis. (Eau Claire Memorial H.S.)
Aaron Gorres LB 6-3 205 Cottage Grove, Minn. (Park H.S.)
Dre Greer DL 6-0 280 Dolton, Ill. (Mount Carmel H.S.)
Zac Hawn TE 6-3 235 Menasha, Wis. (Menasha H.S.)
Bryce Heim RB 5-10 200 Saint Charles, Minn. (Plainview-Elgin-Millville H.S.)
Erik Hovde DB 5-10 180 Birchwood, Wis. (Rice Lake H.S.)
Tommy Hutsell RB 5-11 185 Apple Valley, Minn. (Eastview H.S.)
Tom Johnson DL 6-4 270 Freedom, Wis. (Xavier H.S.)
Connor Konshak WR 6-2 205 De Pere, Wis. (West De Pere H.S.)
Ben Laube DL 6-3 260 Eau Claire, Wis. (Eau Claire Memorial H.S.)
Chris Magnuson DB 6-2 185 Onalaska, Wis. (Holmen H.S.)
Austin Norton WR 5-10 165 Littleton, Colo. (Columbine H.S.)
Zach Oruruo OL 6-4 320 Madison, Wis. (La Follette H.S.)
Mike Rybarczyk QB 6-3 180 Addison, Ill. (Addison Trail H.S.)
Cole Schneider OL 6-5 230 South St. Paul, Minn. (South St. Paul H.S.)
Taylor Streiff LB 6-2 200 Brainerd, Minn. (Brainerd H.S.)
Nate ThiekeClough DB 5-10 170 Elgin, Minn. (Plainview-Elgin-Milville H.S.)
Kyle Webb RB 6-2 185 Chippewa Falls, Minn. (Chippewa Falls H.S.)
Kole Zuidmulder TE 6-5 225 Hermantown, Minn. (Hermantown H.S.)


Bulldogs' depth does Wildcats in

One step forward, another step back