Mandan receiver becomes UND football's first 2020 commit

GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota football program stayed in-state to land its first verbal commitment of the 2020 recruiting class.

Mandan wide receiver Elijah Klein announced his commitment Tuesday morning.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior-to-be led the state in receiving yards by more than 300. En route to all-state, first-team honors, Klein caught 41 balls for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Klein, who might see time at tight end for UND, became the first Mandan player in program history to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season. The Braves finished the year 6-4, losing to Fargo Davies in the Class AAA quarterfinals.

Also a standout basketball player, Klein led the Braves by averaging 19.8 points and a conference-best 12.1 rebounds per game.

Klein said his decision to chose UND was a result of the UND coaching staff’s recruiting efforts.

“Probably just the effort and interest the coaching staff showed, contacting me and asking how things were going,” Klein said.

Klein said he was recruited by UND head coach Bubba Schweigert, defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt and offensive coordinator Danny Freund.

Schmidt is a former Mandan standout himself.

Klein already has one friend on the team in former Brave Trae Steckler, a redshirt freshman tight end for the Fighting Hawks. Steckler and Klein were football and basketball teammates at Mandan.

“He said all good things and not just about the football part,” Klein said.

The 2019 season will be UND’s last playing a Big Sky Conference schedule before transitioning to the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020.

“I like being able to set the standard and build a good team and make some big runs,” Klein said of the Valley. “I think that’s a great thing to be in a competitive league and compete against NDSU.”