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.”
BY JIMMY GILLIGAN
|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.)|