Minot High’s Huff, DLB’s Knutson commit to Bemidji State

Garrick Hodge/MDN Des Lacs-Burlington senior wide receiver Josh Knutson (21) catches a pass over the middle during a high school football scrimmage this past season.

While several Minot-area athletes took their talents to Minot State, two local players decided to play for a different Beavers team.

Minot High lineman Elijah Huff and Des Lacs-Burlington wide receiver Josh Knutson officially signed with Division II Bemidji State Wednesday, a fellow Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference member.

Huff, a 6-foot-1, 263-pound two-way lineman, helped lead the Magi to a state runner-up finish last fall.

“I love the Bemidji community and the coaches,” Huff said. “The coaches were real black and white. They told me they love my attitude and wanted me to come over there. Going over there on my official visit, I saw the blue-collar hard work and, being a hard worker myself, I felt like I already blended in.”

Huff also considered the University of Mary and Minot State, but instead will join a BSU program coming off an 8-3 season.

“Elijah is the strongest kid I have ever coached,” MHS coach Barry Holmen said. “He is just a beast in the weight room. I think they have options in terms of how they decide to use him. He has been a lineman most of his career, but we tried him at fullback as that lead blocker and maybe that’s a place he could really thrive at. Just a big, strong kid that is bruising. If he could learn to block in space and fits into their scheme, then look out.”

BSU plans to play Huff on the defensive line. In his senior season with the Magi, he recorded 27 tackles (14 solo), two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, six tackles for a loss and four sacks.

“We first saw him at minicamps and he’s a big, strong physical kid,” BSU coach Brent Bolte said. “I’m a firm believer that for us to win at this level, we have to stop the run and run the football. He’s likely going to play in the interior defensive line in our 3-4 scheme. He could end up playing every spot across the board. If he can go out and move around on that line, it’s not a bad thing.”

Four of Huff’s senior classmates will play against him at Minot State for the next four years: Peyton Lamoureux, Lofton Klabunde, Logan Krueger and Brett Davis.

“It’s going to be a good experience,” Huff said. “I like all these guys and I will probably still see them, so it’s not really a goodbye to all of them. Especially being in the same conference, I’ll see them all later. I’m not too worried about being the odd one out here.”

Meanwhile, Knutson hopes to bolster a passing attack that ranked seventh in the NSIC last season with 194 yards per game.

“I loved Bemidji’s offense, it seemed perfect for my style of play,” the 6-foot receiver said. “They’re fast paced and they’re spread out. They pass quite a bit, and the plays they run could really put me in the mix to make something happen down the stretch.”

Knutson was a key cog in an offense that led DLB to a state championship appearance his junior season, catching 28 passes for 538 yards and seven touchdowns while picking off six passes. In his senior year, Knutson was double-teamed by many opponents, but still hauled in 27 receptions for 408 yards and scored seven touchdowns. His other options were Minot State and MSU Moorhead.

“I’m very excited for Josh,” DLB coach James Johnson said. “He’s a high-character kid and a good student. I think Bemidji will be happy with what they get from Josh. The talent at every sport he plays in stands out and he works hard. The number one thing they’re getting is a kid with good character and academic and athletics. I’m very proud of what he’s done here.”

Bolte said Knutson has a makeup that profiles him as a slot receiver.

“He was a kid from a smaller school and I thought he flew under the radar recruiting wise,” Bolte said. “We evaluated him and offered him early in the process. He’s athletic enough in the slot, he could play corner too but he’ll be on the offensive side for us.

“What jumps off is his ability to create separation from corners. He was a man against boys at that level. He’s got great football speed and has all those track times. He’s got a decent frame and is a little light right now, but that doesn’t mean much in college football.”

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge