Minot State football inks 24 on National Signing Day
The foundation of establishing a sustainable offense starts with the unsung warriors in the trenches. Often overlooked, but not on Wednesday, as nine offensive linemen highlighted the 2020 Signing Day recruiting class for the Minot State football team.
Along with the strength added inside was the additional flair of bringing in five wide receivers and another quarterback.
The offense received a bulk of the attention, as 15 of MSU’s 24 newest recruits look to aid the Beavers’ scoring efforts.
“We answered some needs that we had, especially the offensive line,” MSU head coach Mike Aldrich said. “The last three weeks have been crazy for me. But, we got to the point where we need to be so we don’t need to run around like chickens with our heads cut off.”
Recruits will be coming in from across the country, with 11 different states getting representation: Arizona (5), Colorado (5), North Dakota (4), Minnesota (2), South Dakota (2), Wyoming (1), Montana (1), California (1), Michigan (1), Florida (1) and Nevada (1).
“It’s tough and different from any other places that I have coached,” Aldrich said about the vast scope of MSU’s recruiting. “With our location here, we know we have to expand and broaden where we are going to go. We have to be different than other people, and luckily we have the leadership above me that allows us to do that.”
All four of the local North Dakota signings can be found on the offensive line. The closest being from right across the street at Bishop Ryan: Keegan Henjum, an All-State First Team selection.
The two heaviest additions also hail from the Peace Garden State: Jack Sannes (6-0, 334) from Washburn and Isaac Nordloef (6-1, 322) from Powers Lake. Nordloef joins his older brother Aiden, who signed with the Beavers last year.
“It was quite a bit (of an influence),” said Isaac Nordloef about his brother already being on the team. “I also kind of wanted to get away from him. But it will be nice. (I’ll have) somebody to watch and follow as I go — know what everything will be like because of him.”
Rounding out the local bunch is Zac Thielges (6-3, 249) from LaMoure.
Minot State had nine offensive linemen listed on its roster for next season. So, adding nine more will likely bring forth a handful of redshirts. That said, playing time is still up for grabs.
“Having nine for spring football, we still aren’t two-deep across the board,” Aldrich said. “We had to overload; I guess you could say. I think the class will filter itself out next year when we get into it. If somebody has the opportunity to play for us early, they play up a class — those types of things.”
What the Beavers’ roster was desperately lacking, after the graduation of JoseLuis Moreno, was a kicker and a punter.
The double duty lefty special teams weapon has earned multiple national awards since the end of the season. Moreno’s departure left two glaring vacancies.
“I don’t know if we could ever truly replace him,” Aldrich said about Moreno. “Five All-American awards and the ability of one person to punt and kick, which isn’t uncommon at Division II. But, to be really great at it is uncommon. That’s why we went for a punter and a kicker. Both of them can do both, so they will compete against each other. But we see one as a little bit better at punting and one a little bit better at placekicking.”
The kicker listed is Dillon Fedor from Nevada, and punter is Justin Cash from Colorado.
“The issue we ran into at the end of the year with (Moreno) was scouts were coming in and saying if he could have just focused on one thing, then he could have been even better,” Aldrich said. “So, that has been stuck in the back of my mind.”
Getting back to the offense, the loss of receivers Lavante Bushnell (school DII record holder for career touchdown catches and total receptions) and the versatile Lane Torgerson had to be addressed.
Five wideouts from five different states were signed, ranging in height from 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-1.
“We brought in three slot receivers, and that’s where Lavante played,” Aldrich said. “That was our most production position at wideout. So, we have to bring in a number of those guys to start refilling that position and create some competition. We got a couple for the outside (receiver) positions… We have to be better there too.”
Capping off the offense commits is 6-foot-1 quarterback Dawson Macleary from Wyoming. He was named an All-State selection at Cheyenne Central High School.
“Being able to bring in a very good quarterback, especially with Ben (Bolinske) being a senior, helps increase the competition to get ready for two years down the road,” Aldrich said.
The defense gained seven new prospects: two linemen, two linebackers and three defensive backs. A couple more potential signings fell through the cracks.
“We still have a hole at nose guard and defensive tackle,” Aldrich said. “We had a guy committed until five days before signing day. He flipped and went someplace else. He had been committed all season, so we just didn’t recruit there. Now we are scrambling a little bit.
“The other guy we were all-in on, we lost him to Colorado State as a walk-on. So, really good players. We just didn’t have anybody else in the hopper by the time we got to this. We are going back through and looking at places we haven’t recruited yet.”
Aldrich and his coaching staff would still like to add a half dozen more names to this recruiting class.
“Another six, I would guess,” he said. “We still have five offers out. As much as we want them to make a decision quickly, it’s still a big decision for them. We had a pretty good-sized visit this last weekend and, two days later, they aren’t ready to make that decision. But, some good kids. Hopefully, they will start falling in here by the end of the week.”
The 2020 National Signing Day class for the Minot State football team:
QB: Dawson Macleary (6-1, 190) from Cheyenne Central HS (Wyo.).
WR: Quinn Sullivan (5-11, 180) from Butt HS (Mont.).
WR: Trent Adams (6-1, 175) from Tehachapi HS (Cali.).
WR: Kaleb Hindman (6-0, 180) from Thunder Ridge HS (Colo.).
WR: Grant Huber (5-10, 180) from St. Thomas More HS (S.D.).
WR: Kyle St. Pierre (5-9, 160) from Millenium HS (Ariz.).
OL: Keegan Henjum (5-10, 275) from Bishop Ryan HS (N.D.).
OL: Jake Swirple (6-0, 289) from Franklin HS (Mich.).
OL: Steven Williams (6-1, 302) from Mountain Pointe HS (Ariz.).
OL: Jonathan Velazquez (6-4, 282) from Odyssey Institute (Ariz.).
OL: Ian Gilbert (6-2, 293) from Legacy HS (Colo.).
OL: Isaac Nordloef (6-1, 322) from Powers Lake HS (N.D.).
OL: Luke Browning (6-3, 250) from Saint Michael Albertville HS (Minn.).
OL: Jack Sannes (6-0, 334) from Washburn HS (N.D.).
OL: Zac Thielges (6-3, 249) from LaMoure HS (N.D.).
DL: Jayson Petty (6-3, 220) from Sabino HS (Ariz.).
DL: Sean Pugh-Sykora (6-3, 237) from Woodbury HS (Minn.).
LB: Noah Freng (5-11, 207) from Heritage HS (Colo.).
LB: Cooper Maras (6-1, 215) from West Central HS (S.D.).
DB: Charlie Raetzman (5-11, 159) from Salpointe Catholic HS (Ariz.).
DB: Jake Heggie (5-11, 165) from Thunder Ridge HS (Colo.).
DB: Chase Doty (6-0, 175) from Sebring HS (Fla.).
K: Dillon Fedor (5-11, 160) from Liberty HS (Nev.).
P: Justin Cash (6-0, 167) from Ponderosa HS (Colo.).
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.