A much anticipated group of student-athletes have signed on the line that is dotted and are now Fighting Hawks.
There was a bit of drama this year vs. zero last year but it was all in a good way. All of the commits stayed true to UND, plus Coach Bubba Schweigert was able to add a couple nice pieces that will power OC Danny Freund’s offense for years to come.
All together the early-version of the 2020 class consists of 26 players from 10 states/provinces. 15 offensive players – 10 defensive players – 1 kicker.
Expect the defense to be the focal point in January was it gets closer to February. The staff still needs to address safety and cornerback for sure. The loss of Chase Perchal to injury leaves the Hawks with only one safety in the class (Peyton Fisher).
- Reid Neal- 6’2″-170 – Yorktown High School (IN)
- Quincy Vaughn – 6’4″-230 – Football North (ON)
Running Back (2)
- Creighton Mitchell – 5’8″-175 – Valley High School (IA)
- Isaiah Smith – 5’11”-190 – Benilde St Margaret’s High School (MN)
Wide Receiver (3)
- Jack Wright – 5’11”-175 – Regent Prep School (OK)
- Bo Belquist – 6’0″-160 – New Rockford-Sheyenne High School (ND)
- Marcus Preston – 6’2″-180 – Free State High School (KS)
Offensive Line (6)
- Bennett Weber – 6’4″-280 – Waconia High School (MN)
- Peyton Lotysz – 6’2″-250 – Red River High School (ND)
- Andrew Fenton – 6’3″-260 – Menomonie High School (WI)
- Easton Kilty – 6’6″-260 – Stratford High School (WI)
- Jack Kuntz – 6’5″-280 – Devils Lake High School (ND)
- Jagger Ferden – 6’5″-250 – Marengo High School (IL)
Tight End (2)
- Elijah Klein – 6’6″-190 – Mandan High School (ND)
- Max Gunderson – 6’5″-200 – Detroit Lakes High School (MN)
Nose Guard (1)
- Craig Orlando – 6’3″-255 – Verndale High School (MN)
- Jack Ihry – 6’0″-200 – Finley-Sharon Hope-Page High School (ND)
- Dylan Boecker – 6’3″-185 – Menomonie High School (WI)
- Quinn Urwiler – 6’0″-180 – Batavia High School (IL)
- Wyatt Pedigo – 6’0″-200 – Hoisington High School (KS)
- Kason Kelley – 6’2″-220 – Millard North High School (NE)
- Devon Krzanowski – 6’2″-215 – St. Cloud State (transfer)
- Ken Bohnenkamp – 6’3″-220 – Rochester C.C. (transfer)
- Peyton Fisher – 6’0″-175 – Fargo North High School (ND)
- Sam Robertson – 6’1″-175 – Wayzata High School (MN)
- Adam Stage – 5’9″-180 – St. Cloud State (transfer) (MN)
Reaction – Offense
Anybody who has read our post-season stuff knows what we think needs to happen with the UND offense. They need more & better offensive lineman. Period. Well, they certainly addressed that need by signing six offensive lineman.
One of the surprises from Wednesday that we alluded to in the opening was the addition of OT Jagger Ferden of Illinois. He was originally committed to Western Illinois but opened it back up this past fall. At 6’5″-250, Ferden has an excellent frame and shows great point-of-block pop to get the defender moving. UND needs more tackle bodies and Ferden was an excellent late addition. We were told Ferden had actually been committed for awhile but never released it.
OL Andrew Fenton and Easton Kilty are both going to be outstanding additions to the OL group. The Wisconsin products both received quite a bit of attention on the recruiting circuit, with Fenton holding a couple valid FBS offers. Looking at Fenton in his signing day picture – I mean, that guy looks like he wants to maul someone at all times. Not surprising he is a standout wrestler. Both of these guys are candidates to play next fall.
Local product Peyton Lotysz is going to be a solid center or possibly guard in the future. At 6’2″-260, he has a nice center frame and excellent technique, which isn’t a surprise based on the fact he was taught by his father – former Sioux All-American Greg Lotysz.
The other two lineman are swing guys. Jack Kuntz (6’4″280) out of Devils Lake showed well in camp this past summer, earning a scholarship offer. He is the local kid that could strike big for the Hawks down the road. Bennett Weber of Waconia will be a guard and at 6’4″ has some nice length for the position – he should be able to put on some weight to man the middle.
I love what they did with this OL group. Three tackle bodies, two guards and a center. The lineman need to learn different positions so it’s not like they are pigeon-holed to a spot but different heights/lengths is not a bad thing.
It’s no secret we are extremely high on Elijah Klein of Mandan. At 6’7″-205 he is the SOC (steal of the class) on offense. Klein had 9 TD’s this past season for the Braves and is an obvious mismatch on every play. His catch radius is absurd and he is only scratching the surface on how to play receiver. Klein is one of the best basketball players in the state, as well. The way Danny Freund runs his offense Klein is going to get plenty of opportunities to catch passes from the tight end spot or flexed out at WR. Look for Klein to get up around 225-230 when it’s all said and done.
An under the radar kid with a huge upside is Max Gunderson of Detroit Lakes. Disclaimer: I played with his uncle and know his father well. They both were ultra-competitive athletes that had a ton of success in D.L. and also in college/minors. At 6’4″ Gunderson will probably start out at tight end because he does possess some solid speed. He was a QB in high school, which can’t be completely ruled out at this point, but we see his frame fitting in nicely at the TE/Flex WR spot in Freund’s offense.
UND addressed their glaring need of several quarterbacks by signing two very good one’s. Reid Neal of Indiana had been committed for awhile now and will be another true dual-threat QB for UND. In his career he threw for over 4,800 yards and ran for over 1,400. This kid is sneaky good and could make a run at the starting job.
The second surprise of the day for UND was the mid-day addition of QB Quincy Vaughn. He was originally committed to Old Dominion but when their staff got fired he started to look around again. Freund had stayed in touch with him the entire time and even offered him while he was committed to the Monarchs.
At 6’4″-230, Vaughn is a big man. He is more of a shotgun, pocket passer but will run to evade pressure or on a QB power. His arm strength and accuracy is notable on film and he has obviously been well taught because his footwork and release are clean. Vaughn is a bigtime addition to this class and will create instant competition for incumbent Tommy Schuster and Neal.
When asked about the timing of his decision and how it went down Vaughn was very complimentary of the Hawks staff.
“This decision was not easy it took me until the night before signing day to decide, Vaughn said. “But in the back of my mind I knew the staff here at UND and the players have something special. I feel I can provide support regardless if I’m the guy, or not. I looked at the opportunity to go somewhere where I felt wanted, and UND was the place.”
Here is a video we came across of Vaughn pulling a head fake on everyone and taking off the ODU sweatshirt to review a UND one – the video is a bit grainy but you can see it happening and hear the crowds reaction:
With the losses of James Johannesson and Austin Gordon it was imperative that UND add a couple more running backs in this class. I think they did well with the signing of two speed guys – Creighton Mitchell and Isaiah Smith.
Mitchell is a smaller, quicker type of back at 5’8″-195. But he has some serious cuts & vision in his game. He gained over 2,500 yards and 30 TD’s in his career at powerhouse Valley HS in West Des Moines, IA. He will be a major beneficiary once the Hawks get their ground game on track.
Smith is a bit bigger at 5’10”-195 but has excellent top-end speed and is a breakaway threat on any play. He was injured this past year but will be fine for the future.
Last but certainly not least, the wide receiver group was addressed quite well, IMO, with the additions of Jack Wright, Bo Belquist, and Marcus Preston. Wright’s accomplishments down in Oklahoma have been well chronicled but this kid has a big upside in college as a slot, bubble receiver. We see him being the intermediate type of receiver, ala, Brock Boltmann.
Belquist is going to be a good player at UND – mark it down. Overlooked due to his location and level of competition, Belquist blew up this summer at UND’s Elite Camp and became a top priority. Even though his father and uncle played at NDSU, I think the fact UND showed they prioritized him and wanted him to be a part of the program went a long way for Belquist.
Preston, at 6’2″-180, is going to fill out nicely and become a bigger, physical type of receiver that we have been used to seeing the past few years. UND likes to throw 15-25 yard fades & post patterns and we see Preston fitting in well in this offense. He had 685 yards and 3 TD’s this past season for the Firebirds.