UMD's recent success helps with recruiting
Minnesota Duluth football coach Bob Nielson wouldn't go so far as to say that recruits are knocking at his door, but the Bulldogs' success in recent years certainly has allowed his staff to be more selective when it comes to doling out scholarshi...
Minnesota Duluth football coach Bob Nielson wouldn't go so far as to say that recruits are knocking at his door, but the Bulldogs' success in recent years certainly has allowed his staff to be more selective when it comes to doling out scholarship dollars.
UMD will unveil its 2012 recruiting class today as part of national signing day, with about 20 high school seniors expected to be on that list. The Bulldogs have won at least a share of four straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference titles, as well as NCAA Division II national championships in 2008 and 2010, and that kind of success undoubtedly helps breed more success.
Nielson and Co., however, don't plan on resting on their laurels.
"People have asked me before if our success has made recruiting easier," Nielson said. "What success does is that it gets you on more peoples' lists, but you still have to do a good job in the recruiting process. You have to make sure they see how our school is going to fit them, and how our program is going to fit them, and how they're going to fit in. So in some ways, our success has helped recruiting, but in other ways it's still the same process. You've still got to work hard at it."
Nielson isn't allowed to comment on individual recruits until they sign, but this year's class may have less area products. The Bulldogs have been blessed in recent years with homegrown talent, with standouts including offensive lineman Garth Heikkinen (Duluth Central), receiver D.J. Winfield (Mountain Iron-Buhl) and nose guard Buma Foncham (Duluth East).
Bulldog fans will get a glimpse of the future today.
"We've had a lot of interest in our program, and any time you spend a lot of time in recruiting, you're excited for this day," Nielson said. "You like the fact that you can start to move forward now in other areas."
A look at where some Northland players are going:
Hermantown football coach Daryl Illikainen said several colleges have shown interest in Hawks' fullback/defensive tackle Jeremy Peterson and center/defensive tackle Frank Lesar, the younger brother of North Dakota State offensive guard Jake Lesar. Neither player has yet to commit. Illikainen said with Fond du Lac and St. Scholastica adding programs in the last five years there are more options for local players to stay home.
"When Wisconsin-Superior dropped its program, there wasn't a whole lot, and now you've got two smaller-college options right here in addition to UMD," Illikainen said. "It takes quite a player to play at UMD; it reminds me of when I was at North Dakota State. You've got to be quite the athlete to compete at that level, so to have other options right here is good for area kids and good for area football."