In the FCS Huddle: National champ NDSU restocking the talent

The physical talent in North Dakota State's recruiting class is strong enough on its own.

What the Bison gained in the last month might be the difference-maker in putting their recruits, and future classes, over the top.

Or, to put it more correctly, keeping them on top.

That's what winning the FCS national championship does for a program like NDSU's.

"The guys that we're able to probably attract now are guys that have a No. 1 goal of winning a national championship," Bison head coach Craig Bohl said, "as opposed to just playing time."

The Bison, of course, are still basking in their 17-6 win over Sam Houston State in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.

While playing so much longer into the season than even most FBS bowl teams has its negatives, the Bison would take it every year, especially since their convincing win over Georgia Southern in the national semifinals and then the championship game win over Sam Houston State were nationally televised, and kept the program fresh in the minds of recruits.

"We certainly have garnered a great deal of national exposure and that has really been for our institution and our region. Coaches, you live in the present, and we've been out on the recruiting trail trying to compose our squad to the next year," said Bohl, who will be in his 10th season at NDSU this fall.

"I think it's a double-edged sword. Certainly the recognition is great. The challenge is when other schools are sitting in a youngster's living room with mom and dad and you haven't been there because you're preparing the team, that can be a negative side. On the positive side, you do attract a guy that wants to win a championship, so your pool may be changed a little bit."

NDSU coaches tried to be well-rounded with their recruiting class, which will be announced Wednesday afternoon on national signing day, but the focus has been offensive linemen and wide receivers. The senior losses included stud veterans Paul Cornick and Austin Richard up front and leading receiver Warren Holloway.

The recruiting class is expected to feature, among others, 6-foot-1, 253-pound center Austin Farnlof out of Anthem, Ariz., and Boulder Creek High, 6-4, 310-pound guard Zack Johnson from Apple Valley, Minn., and Eastview, and 6-6, 260-pound guard Sam Hahn from DeWitt, Neb., and Tri County School as well as wide receivers DeSean Warren from Overland Park, Kan., and Blue Valley West, and Dee Gray from Aurora, Ill., and Waubonsie Valley.

"We felt like it was important for us to replace some offensive linemen and wide receivers. That's probably the biggest areas," Bohl said.

"I found this out personally (in) winning a national title when I was an assistant coach at Nebraska: people on the outside make the common connection that you win a national championship (and in) your recruiting class you're going to have all these guys jump in the boat. That's really not the case. I think that it certainly positions our program with great visibility in the future, but the immediate impact, I don't know if it's going to be felt for maybe a year or two."

NDSU will get a boost if John Crockett, a potential impact running back, becomes academically eligible this season. He was part of the 2010 recruiting class that delivered linebackers Chad Willson (as a junior college transfer) and Travis Beck, who won outstanding player honors in the national title game, left tackle Billy Turner, and defensive backs Colten Heagle and Christian Dudzik.

While the loss of the Bison's senior class is significant, its other returnees include quarterback Brock Jensen, leader rushing Sam Ojuri and first-team All-America cornerback Marcus Williams.

"It is very, very difficult to get in the championship game. It's very difficult to be a playoff team," Bohl said. "That being said, we feel like the foundation is set to where we should be in contention again next year, where there have been other years where I looked and said this is going to be a rebuilding year. I don't think we're in that position. I think we have a lot of really good returning football players, and those seniors who left left a great foundation as far as team chemistry, work habits, resolve and focus. We're excited about our prospects next year."


With their high number of two- and three-star commits, it can be argued that James Madison and Portland State are putting together the best recruiting classes in the FCS ... Maybe the Ivy League presidents should rethink their stubborn stance of not sending its champion to the FCS playoffs. In a few years, some of their teams might be outstanding. The Ivies have the most three-star prospects according to the ESPN and Rivals rankings and the most top-rated prospects at different positions according to Scout ... It's hard to believe there will be a bigger FBS transfer than former Iowa running back Marcus Coker enrolling at Stony Brook. As a sophomore last season, Coker rushed for 1,384 yards to finish second to Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball of Wisconsin in the Big Ten in rushing. He also scored 15 touchdowns on 281 carries ... Among the top junior college transfers to FCS programs are wide receivers Isiah Ferguson, to Arkansas-Pine Bluff from ASA College, and Kelvin Chatham, to Illinois State from Citrus Community College ... South Dakota State will have to decide on the offensive or defensive line for highly rated tackle Mike Shoff out of Cambridge, Neb.


FCS programs will be embracing the letters of intent that come in on Wednesday.

ESPN, Rivals and Scout provide substantial recruiting information, although it's not as thorough and complete on the FCS level as the FBS level.

Here's some of the analysis:

According to, the highest-ranked high school seniors to be committing to FCS programs are the following three-star recruits (with school, player, position, height, weight, hometown and high school):

Big Sky

Montana State - Dakota Prukop, QB, 6-2, 185, Austin, Texas, Vandegrift

Portland State - Tyrone Holmes, DT, 6-4, 250, Eagle Point, Ore., Eagle Point

South Dakota - Chris Wiseman, DE, 6-4, 230, Lee's Summit, Mo., Lee's Summit West

Big South

Liberty - D.J. Abnar, ATH, 5-10, 170, Tallahassee, Fla., Lincoln

CAA Football

James Madison - Dylan Stallings, DE, 6-4, 202, Yorktown, Va., Grafton; Ian Fisher, ATH, 6-6, 240, Brunswick, Md., Brunswick

Richmond - Alex Gee, OG, 6-4, 270, Burlington, N.C., Walter M. Williams

Towson - Bryton Barr, OLB, 6-0, 215, Mechanicsburg, Pa., Mechanicsburg

William & Mary - Tyler Claytor, DT, 6-2, 265, Snellville, Ga., Shiloh

Ivy League

Brown - Seth Rosenbauer, QB, 6-4, 235, Lima, Ohio, Shawnee

Columbia - Alec Davison, ILB, 6-1, 225, Sugar Land, Texas, Clements; Austin Stock, C, 6-3, 270, Solon, Ohio, Solon; Nikolas Padilla, DT, 6-1, 275, Dallas, Parish Episcopal

Cornell - Matt Doneth, TE, 6-4, 230, Detroit, Detroit Catholic Central

Harvard - Dayne Davis, OLB, 6-2, 205, Aledo, Texas, Aledo

Penn - Cameron Countryman, WR, 5-11, 170, Beverly Hills, Calif., Beverly Hills

Yale - Cole Champion, S, 6-0, 195, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., St. Thomas Aquinas; Braden Meador, OT, 6-5, 290, Montgomery, Texas, Montgomery


Bethune-Cookman - Terry Harden, S, 6-0, 175, Hollywood, Fla., Hollywood Hills; Ray Martin, WR, 5-10, 180, Sanford, Fla., Seminole

South Carolina State - Marquise Jones, CB, 6-0, 185, Columbia, S.C., Eau Claire

Missouri Valley

North Dakota State - Austin Farnlof, C, 6-1, 253, Anthem, Ariz., Boulder Creek

South Dakota State - Mike Shoff, OT, 6-6, 280, Cambridge, Neb., Cambridge

Youngstown State - Nick Wargo, QB, 6-2, 211, Stow, Ohio, Walsh Jesuit

Southern Conference

Appalachian State - Tysean Holloway, RB, 6-0, 190, Asheville, N.C., Asheville; Dante Blackmon, ATH/DB, 5-11, 183, Covington, Ga., Eastside

Georgia Southern - Tre Griffin, DE, 6-2, 232, Kennesaw, Ga., North Cobb; Matt Dobson, QB, 6-1, 206, Tallahassee, Fla., North Florida Christian

Samford - Ben Tamburello, OG, 6-3, 270, Hoover, Ala., Spain Park


Central Arkansas - Aum'Arie Wallace, S, 6-1, 185, Little Rock, Ark., Pulaski Academy


Grambling State - Tray Rabon, WR, 6-1, 195, Dallas, Skyline

According to, the highest-ranked high school seniors to be committing to FCS programs are the following three-star recruits (with school, player, position, height, weight, hometown and high school):

Big Sky

Northern Arizona - Blair Wishom, DB, 6-0, 195, San Francisco, City College of San Francisco

Portland State - Jamarr Graves, WR, 6-4, 185, Portland, Grant; Daniel Halverson, LB, 6-2, 220, Portland, Grant; Nicholas Rothstein, ATH, 5-11, 207, Portland, Jesuit

CAA Football

Delaware - Jalen Randolph, RB, 6-1, 220, Folsom, Pa., Ridley

James Madison - Stacey Bebell, ATH, 5-10, 180, Mastic Beach, N.Y., William Floyd; Rhakeem Stallings, LB, 6-0, 220, Chesapeake, Va., Oscar Smith

Villanova - Mike Burke, WR, 6-3, 205, Columbia, Pa., Columbia Jr./Sr.; Austin Calitro, LB, 6-2, 220, Danbury, Conn., Danbury; Corey Majors, LB, 6-1, 230, Worcester, Mass., Worcester Academy

Ivy League

Columbia - Trevor McDonagh, QB, 6-2, 200, St. Louis, University

Princeton - Kedric Bostic, QB, 6-3, 180, Jupiter, Fla., Jupiter Christian

Yale - Eric Williams, QB, 6-3, 191, Cleveland, St. Ignatius

Missouri Valley

South Dakota State - Mike Shoff, OT, 6-6, 280, Cambridge, Neb., Cambridge

Southern Conference

Appalachian State - Dante Blackmon, ATH/DB, 5-11, 183, Covington, Ga., Eastside

Georgia Southern - Matt Dobson, QB, 6-1, 206, Tallahassee, Fla., North Florida Christian


Central Arkansas - Ricky Wyatt, LB, 5-10, 225, Monroe, La., Neville

Samford - Brandon Teeling, DT, 6-3, 260, Seffner, Fla., Armwood


Grambling State - Tray Rabon, WR, 6-1, 195, Dallas, Skyline's top-rated FCS commit at each position (with position, player, height, weight, hometown, high school and national ranking at the position):

QB - Dalyn Williams (committed to Dartmouth), 6-1, 190, Lake Dallas, Texas, Lake Dallas, 59

RB - Tysean Holloway (committed to Appalachian State), 6-0, 190, Asheville, N.C., Asheville, 105

FB - Matt Barnett (committed to Wagner), 6-1, 220, Haddonfield, N.J., Paul VI, 17

WR - Malachi Jones (committed to Appalachian State), 6-1, 182, Lawrenceville, Ga., Central Gwinnett, 207

TE - Canon Smith (committed to Liberty), 6-4, 245, Birmingham, Ala., Briarwood Christian, NR

OT - Christian Wilson (committed to Youngstown State), 6-6, 308, McKeesport, Pa., McKeesport Area, 134

OG - Braden Meador (committed to Yale), 6-5, 290, Montgomery, Texas, Montgomery, 74

C - Austin Stock (committed to Columbia), 6-3, 270, Solon, Ohio, Solon, 24

DT - Mike Shoff (committed to South Dakota State), 6-6, 280, Cambridge, Neb., Cambridge, 51

DE - Tim Hatfield (committed to Brown), 6-6, 240, Albuquerque, N.M., Volcano Vista, 166

OLB - Marcus Forward (committed to Northern Colorado), 6-2, 195, Flint, Mich., Northern, 106

MLB - Daniel Halverson (committed to Portland State), 6-2, 220, Portland, Ore., Grant, 53

S - Luke Hagy (committed to Cornell), 5-11, 185, Pittsburgh, Mt. Lebanon, 169

CB - Thomas Singleton (committed to Northern Colorado), 5-10, 170, Aurora, Colo., Cherokee Trail, 172

K - Ryan Hawkins (committed to Northern Arizona), 5-11, 175, Peoria, Ariz., Sunrise Mountain, NR

P and LS - None


The season kicks off in seven months.