BisonReport publisher Ryan Burns and editor Ross Uglem are breaking down each Bison football position group, what they're looking to add at each position in the Class of 2017 and their top targets.
What the Bison have on roster
It can’t be often that a team loses its all time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns. It’s stranger still that the Bison might expect to be better at the receiver position in 2016 after losing 6th year senior Zach Vraa.
Vraa is a Bison legend, there’s no question about that, but his statistics fell from 2013 to 2014, and again in ’15 from 14. The grind of being a Bison seemed to wear on Vraa, despite playing with the more talented passer (Wentz) later in his career.
The Bison return their top two receivers from a season ago, junior RJ Urzendowski and sophomore Darrius Shepherd. Both players were very productive, but both are listed at 5’11” and don’t project as outside #1 receivers. Both are more suited to work in the slot or at the “Z” position. At almost 200 pounds, Urzendowski might be the more likely to contribute outside.
The X position, for a #1 wide receiver in the Bison offense a la Kole Heckendorf, Warren Holloway or Vraa, just might be manned by a true freshman. Sean Engel, from Chaska, Minnesota, brings a 6’5” frame not often seen in the wide receiver group at NDSU. He has the athletic ability to contribute right away, so his understanding of the Bison offense is going to have to develop quickly.
If spring ball is any indication, Engel will be pushing sophomore Dallas Freeman. Freeman made plays all offseason long, and could certainly push for a spot in NDSU’s three receiver sets.
Dmitri Williams of Rosemount, Minnesota is a true sophomore after having his redshirt pulled a season ago accounting for 11 total touches on offense last season, and a rushing score. He hopes to make a jump this year and contribute more on the offensive end.
Eric Perkins will provide work in the slot and in the return game. NDSU might also look for contributions from Marquise Bridges and Khayvon Hawkins.
Projected 2016 depth chart
X: Sean Engel, Dallas Freeman
Z: RJ Urzendowski, Marquise Bridges
SLOT: Darrius Shepherd, Eric Perkins
What the Bison want in 2017
I expect the Bison to take one, potentially two wide receivers for the 2017 cycle with Eric Perkins graduating this fall.
Campbell was one of the first offers out for Bison wide receiver targets and is one that the NDSU staff wants badly. Campbell has been on campus a couple times already, but NDSU is hoping to get him back on campus here in July and see if he'll potentially commit.
Illinois WR Isaiah Hill was offered after a spectacular performance at the Bison's camp last month and now that NDSU has moved on Hill, he has the Bison at the top of his list with a decision coming at the end of the month.
Wilson is one name to watch for is Campbell continues to wait out the recruiting process. He was a standout at the Bison's camp last month and NDSU is very high on the Wisconsin playmaker.
Watson visits NDSU on July 16th and with the Bison being his only offer to this point, I'd place Watson on commitment watch heading into his visit here soon.
Hairston just recently visited the Bison last week, and NDSU is also a strong contender for his services.