Best Offensive Player
Ryan Burns says: Sean Engel
I think Sean Engel can bring some needed size to the wide receiver position immediately with Zach Vraa graduating. Engel is literally going to be a "big" target for quarterback Easton Stick as Engel is all of 6'5" 200 lbs and if he can adjust to the speed of college football quick and put together things in the playbook, there's no reason why Engel couldn't compete for immediate playing time. I think he has to the potential to be a great wide receiver for Easton Stick and company by the time his career is over.
Ross Uglem says: Dillon Radunz
Though it may not be as important at NDSU as it is in other offenses that throw more, left tackle is still the most important spot on the offensive line. The Bison have sent their last two multi-year starters at left tackle to the NFL. Radunz, an exceptional athlete and a left-handed player, has a chance to redshirt in 2016 and start for four years at that left tackle spot. Radunz was offered a scholarship to Mizzou of the SEC. He's a P5 athlete that should excel under the tutelage of Coach Riley and S&T legend Jim Kramer.
Best Defensive Player
Ryan says: Darren Kelley Jr.
I love what Kelley can bring immediately to the NDSU defensive back field, specifically at safety where he's already over 200 lbs at 6'2". Kelley has made it clear that he wants to play early on in his Bison career and I think he's physically gifted enough to do so, but it'll be about him putting together the mental side of things with some young talented safeties already at the safety spot. I love what Kelley shows on tape with his physicality and football IQ and think that he could be a great ball player for Klieman and company his next few years.
Ross says: Jabril Cox
Cox is an example of the "new" athlete that NDSU is able to recruit. Many Bison legends, especially on defense are undersized. Grant Olson always maintained that if he had been two inches taller, he'd have been in the Big Ten. Joe Mays was 5'11". Travis Beck and Christian Dudzik would normally be considered small for their positions. Bison defenders often "size down". They are fast defensive ends the size of linebackers, they are fast linebackers the size of safeties, and so on. Cox, like Nick DeLuca, is a big athlete (6'3" 220 lbs.) with the athletic ability to say "sized up". Cox could play Sam linebacker, Mike linebacker or defensive end in NDSU's system. NDSU took three other linebackers in this class, and if they all pan out, Cox could be a force on the defensive line.
Ryan says: Jabril Cox
I absolutely love what Cox is going to bring to NDSU when he steps on campus in June as he'll be one of the most explosive athletes on the team. The Missouri product played both safety and quarterback in high school and while he'll transition to outside linebacker (or defensive end if he out grows the position) for the Bison, he's an absolutely explosive player with a great burst and speed. I can't wait to see how he develops during his time in Fargo.
Ross says: Moses Nyangacha
I said on the BisonReport radio podcast that I'd build an entire team with ex-quarterbacks if I could. Nyangacha played quarterback, wide receiver, punter and kicker for Robbinsdale Cooper. He is also a standout track athlete. Nyangacha is a four-time all conference athlete in track, competing in the 200, 400 and triple jump. If Nyangacha can add weight and maintain his athleticism he'll be a major contributor to this Bison defense. One of the main tenants of Code Green is to stay in base defenses to defend the run while having good enough athletes on the field to defend the pass. Nyangacha can be one of those athletes at linebacker.
Ryan says: Quinn Alo
When you watch Quinn Alo's senior highlights, you see a player that just physically dominates his opponent each and every snap, which is something I'm sure Coach Riley is going to love. He's already 335 lbs and while he'll have to slim down a little, I like his nastiness as an offensive lineman as that's something you can't always teach. I could see Alo contributing on the interior of the offensive line in a few years.
Ross says: Ross Godfrey
The word to describe Ross is "athlete". He's a football player, a track star, and excels in basketball and baseball in Iowa. Anyone who runs a 100 meter dash in less than 11 seconds is fast enough to play in a Division I defensive backfield. If Godfrey can effectively put on weight, he'll be able pitch in on special teams and eventually help out at cornerback or free safety.
Most likely to make an immediate impact
Ryan says: Jackson Koonce
I already talked about Sean Engel in the top, so I'll choose NDSU's new graduate transfer punter who attempts to replace Ben LeCompte. While Koonce will have to beat out Ian Gallagher for the position, you don't bring in a graduate transfer to sit on the bench usually. It's not going to be easy to replace an All-American punter, but Koonce will have the chance to this fall.
Ross says: Sean Engel
This one's easy. It's Engel. At 6'5" 200 pounds Engel's already a physical mismatch for the defensive backs of the MVFC. Not only that, but he comes at a position of need for the Bison. Yes, RJ Urzendowski, Darrius Shepherd, Dmitri Williams and Eric Perkins return, but none are taller than 5'11". Zach Vraa was the tall, outside threat that the Bison used at the X position, and he has (finally) graduated. Engel was smaller and slower as a junior, and had to learn how to get open. Now that he's 6'5" and runs the 40 in the 4.6 range, he has the chance to be a mismatch for the next four years, but it might start in game one of his first season.
Most likely to get pulled over for speeding while playing football
Ryan says: Ross Godfrey
Anyone who runs a 100 meter dash in less than 11 seconds is fast enough to play in a Division I football and I think it'll be fun to watch Ross race against Felix Dixon and Victor Kizewski to see who actually claims the title this fall.
Ross says: Felix Dixon
Just take a look at his highlight video. Dixon runs his 40 in the 4.5 range, and is an exceptional returner. The Bison have been able to preserve the redshirts on DBs Tre Dempsey, Jalen Allison and Dominic Davis in three consecutive years. They should be able to do the same with Dixon and then use him at cornerback and at punt returner. Current Bison punt returner Eric Perkins will graduate in 2016.
Most likely to prove the star system wrong
Ryan says: Jabril Cox
I really believe that Cox will outshine his two-star ranking currently and he's a guy I was batting for trying to get a bump to three stars. Love the athletic ability with his measureables that Cox brings to NDSU and think he'll be a star down the line for Coach Klieman.
Ross says: Dillon Radunz
Scout is rating each of NDSU's recruits as two-star athletes with the exception of DT Cameron Hackl. Radunz is my #1 overall prospect for this class. If he turns out the way that I believe he can, he'll produce quite a bit more than a two-star athlete.
Ryan says: Ross Kennelly
One of the joys of this profession is getting to know the recruits for many months at a time and Ross was always one of the best kids to communicate with. Very cordial and always have a great answer for an question I threw his way, plus was extremely accessible at all times.
Ross says: Sean Engel
I had a chance to interview Engel for BisonReport Radio. He comes off as a great kid with a chip on his shoulder. I'm impressed with his high level of confidence, blended with his humility and an understanding of how hard he's going to have to work to succeed.
Ryan says: Ross Kennelly
While Kennelly may be nice and polite off the field, he's an absolute terror on it. Never have to doubt his physical play as he's a do-it-all type of player at Superior and he's also a wrestler. Kennelly also picked up a preferred walk-on offer from Wisconsin who has a great track record of late with identifying linebacker talent. Kennelly will be sure to pack the punch at NDSU.
Ross says: Darren Kelley
Kelley is the other player who figures to contribute to the Bison right away in 2016. Kelley is a junior college guy from local NDSCS who figures to figure in to NDSU's nickel package right away. At 6'1" and 195 pounds Kelley is a thumper in the defensive backfield. Whether he plays off the line as a safety, or steps in at Colten Heagle's monster-backer position, Kelley will make sure opposing pass-catchers remember him.
Best Recruiting Moment
Ryan says: Dillon Radunz saying no to the SEC
I think the Radunz story takes the cake for NDSU recruiting stories in 2016. Mizzou offered Radunz 48 hours before he signed his NLI to the Bison and they were shocked to hear that he wasn't immediately interested and didn't want to flip to the Tigers from the SEC. Klieman only wants guys that want to be in Fargo, and Radunz definitely earned his keep there.
Ross says: Adam Cofield flipping
Mizzou's late recruitment of Dillon Radunz was just that, late. Radunz never considered Mizzou as a real option, so I don't consider that offer as a real threat.
The finest moment for the staff came after Bryce Torneden's de-commitment from North Dakota State to sign with Kansas of the Big 12. Torneden was one of NDSU's first commitments back in July of 2015. North Dakota State had offered Adam Cofield as well, but only planned on signing one running back, and Torneden pledged to NDSU very early. When Torneden flipped, NDSU put the full-court press on Cofield, and signed him to be the running back for this year's class, wresting him away from Missouri State, a conference opponent. The Bison got Cofield to Fargo for the last official visit weekend before signing day, and Cofield committed that weekend to Chris Klieman and his staff.
Worst Recruiting Moment
Ryan says: Lloyd flipping to the Badgers
The good news is no one should ever question this staff's eye for identifying TE/DE talent as three commits from this past class ended up at Big Ten schools (Shaun Beyer - Iowa, Ko Kieft - Minnesota and Gabe Lloyd - Wisconsin). The tough part about Lloyd's decommitment is it came so close to signing day that the staff was left just signing one tight end and no defensive ends. The timing is what hurt most here.
Ross says: Gabe Lloyd flipping to Wisconsin
Lloyd flipped to Wisconsin as a PWO the night before national signing day. Regardless of why it happened, it put North Dakota State in an impossible position as far as a replacement was concerned. NDSU was still able to sign TE Braydon Lund from Minot, but Lloyd was the third DE/TE prospect to choose a Big Ten School (Ko Kieft to Minnesota, Shaun Beyer to Iowa) who had been previously committed to NDSU. A class that could have yielded tremendous depth at the edge of the offensive and defensive lines yielded just Lund and preferred walk-on Justice Kelly.
Best NDSU Recruiter
Ryan says: The NDSU fans
It sounds totally cliche, but I've never heard recruits rave about a fan base like they do when they talk about NDSU. Time after time after time, when I'd be talking to recruits that just visited Fargo, the number one thing they'd mention to me was how supportive the fans were of the football team and that made them feel wanted and at home. The fan support absolutely made a difference in this 2016 class.
Ross says: Matt Entz
Entz is in charge of the Twin Cities recruiting area, and boy did NDSU clean up there. This was always going to be a limited class from a scholarship perspective, because so few players left the program after 2015. Over 31% of NDSU's scholarship class came from the Twin Cities area. This included my top two recruits from this class (Engel and Radunz) and a quarterback prospect (Henry Van Dellen) that I have a very high opinion of.