Ryan Burns - GopherDigest

2017 BisonReport Recruiting Awards

Another recruiting class, another chance to break down all 25 commits in the BisonReport Recruiting Awards. Who's the Best Offensive Player for head coach Chris Klieman? Who was the most personable? Ryan and Ross hand out this year's awards...

Best Offensive Player

Ryan Burns says: Christian Watson

Everyone reading this knows that I'm the poster boy for Noah Gindorff, but I'm going to change it up since I'm guessing that Ross is going to touch on Gindorff. I'm a big fan of what Christian Watson and what he can represent for this offense in a couple of years. He's a kid that's grown four or five inches since his sophomore year and he's really just starting to grow into his body. He's got a good speed and his body control is pretty impressive. I'll take a gifted 6'2" receiver in the Bison offense all day and twice on Saturdays. 

2016: Sean Engel

Ross Uglem says: Noah Gindorff

Gindorff, as many know is NDSU's first head to head win over the University of Minnesota in a recruiting battle in at least a decade.  The Bison have beaten Purdue and Rutgers in recent memory but this was a Minnesota kid choosing not to go to Minnesota.  Gindorff is an exceptional athlete with an NFL frame.  At 6'5" and 230 pounds Gindorff is probably 20 pounds away from his playing weight but if he can maintain his speed at the increased weight he could be a real pass catching threat at the tight end position or flexed out wide.

2016: Dillon Radunz

Best Defensive Player

Ryan says: Spencer Waege

I'm a big fan of Waege on tape, and think he's a guy that could be asked to play early in his career. The Bison no doubtly signed the best player in South Dakota in Waege, and he's a kid with great length and measureables. Waege knows how to use his 6'4" frame to be disruptive in the backfield and toy with the offensive linemen, so once he's able to put on a few pounds and keep that explosiveness, he's going to be a heck of a player. 

2016: Darren Kelly Jr.

Ross says: Tanner Sundt

NDSU's defensive line class as a whole is maybe a better response for the jewel of this class but I would nomiate Sundt as the star of that group.  Measuring a player's recruiting worth by who he chose the Bison over is dangerous work, but Sundt had offers from about every school in the MVFC and Wyoming, Buffalo, and Eastern Michigan.  He was also named Minnesota's defensive lineman of the year.  At 6'4" 240, Sundt is the longer type of athlete that NDSU has focused their recruiting on.

2016: Jabril Cox

Best Athlete

Ryan says: Noah Gindorff

Fine, I'll gush about Noah Gindorff some more. He's 6'6" 230 + lbs, runs a legit 4.7 40 yard dash, can jump out the gym and do just about everything athletically that you'd want him to do. The sky is legitimately the limit for Gindorff in the passing game as he's going to be able to win that match-up against the linebacker more times than not. If he can figure out the run blocking side of things, watch out. He's going to be a special, special player at North Dakota State.

2016: Jabril Cox

Ross says: Seth Wilson

Wilson is a really good running back prospect but his raw athleticism is even more impressive.  His athleticism was repeatedly on display during his track career in Wisconsin.  He was part of a school record breaking 400m relay time.  He was also all conference in the 100 meter dash.  Wilson, despite being behind a lot of athletes at the running back position was someone that Klieman singled out during his press conference as a player that might help them right away.  That's high praise, and it has a lot to do with his elite athleticism.

2016: Moses Nyangacha

Best Walk-on

Ryan says: Costner Ching

You can do a lot of things with a 6'3" 250 lb body that plays as physical as Ching does. I know he doesn't play in the highest level of football in South Dakota, but the kid is going to bring it each and every day. If he can earn his way onto the field on special teams, I think he'll see time on offense by the end of his career. 

2016: Quinn Alo

Ross says: Noah Sanders

Sanders had multiple scholarship offers at the FCS level at the quarterback position.  If it weren't for an injury during his high school career I would guess that he'd have been a scholarship athlete.  Sanders will be a part of the open competition to replace Easton Stick after the 2018 season.  At 6'3" and 201 pounds Sanders has the size to be a starting MVFC quarterback and stay healthy.

2016: Ross Godfrey

Most likely to make an immediate impact

Ryan says: Joshua Hayes

Josh Hayes on tape is an impressive player to watch, and with Tre Dempsey graduating next year, I think Hayes will have a shot to play as a redshirt freshman. It's tough to really project any player as an immediate impact guy consider the 2016 class all redshirted, but I'll go with Hayes. 

2016: Jackson Koonce

Ross says: Nash Jensen

I have a hard time with this class.  NDSU's 2 deep going into the next season is loaded with juniors and seniors.  Because of Coach Kramer's work in the weight room those who have spent time in the program have a legitimate edge on those who are just coming in.  With that said, the Bison don't have to hang any weight on Jensen.  The Bison lost both starting guards to graduation last season so if anyone has a chance to crack the two deep from this small-ish class of scholarship athletes, it's Jensen.  He's a really big young man and he moves well.

2016: Sean Engel

Most likely to get pulled over for speeding while playing football

Ryan says: Seth Wilson

Wilson owns an 11.16 100m and a 23.80 200m time, and as Ross explains, I think Wilson has everyone else beat in that respect. 

2016: Ross Godfrey

Ross says: Seth Wilson

You generally look for the fastest players in the class at wide receiver or (more likely) cornerback.  This was a thin class at both positions.  The Bison took one wide receiver (Christian Watson) and didn't really take a true cornerback, though Dawson Weber and Josh Hayes could both end up at that position.  The track star in this class is definitely Wilson.

2016: Felix Dixon

Most likely to prove the star system wrong

Ryan says: Spencer Waege

I'm higher on Waege than most, but as I explained above, Waege has an outstanding frame to go with already good tape. If Waege would have lived in the Twin Cities area and not in South Dakota, he's a kid that likely would have had any MAC offer he wanted, and maybe more. 

2016: Jabril Cox

Ross says: Christian Watson

NDSU has successfully gone into Florida a number of times since the arrival of Coach Austin.  Florida is one of the two or three most talent-rich states in the union.  They play all year and there aren't enough scholarships in the state (or the region, really) to satisfy all the D1 athletes.  Watson is very smooth athletically and will definitely have the chance to contribute.  When Watson is redshirted and ready to go for the 2018 season, RJ Urzendowski will be gone and regular contributors Shepherd, Freeman and Williams will be seniors.

2016: Dillon Radunz

Most Personable

Ryan says: Tanner Sundt

Sundt was one of the first kids I spoke with in this 2017 class, and no call / text / DM went unanswered and he always made time for the media. He was always a first class kid in every interaction I had with him. 

2016: Ross Kennelly

Ross says: Zach Willis

I had a chance to meet Zach and he really seems like a great kid.  I've also had a chance to speak with the trainers he works with in the offseason and they couldn't have nicer things to say about him, either.  Willis is embracing the ability to represent not only North Dakota but Fargo itself while playing for the Bison.  Once the big former Packer hits the field, he'll be a fan favorite quickly.

2016: Sean Engel

Hardest Hitter

Ryan says: Joshua Hayes

While Hayes 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 Lakeland as he's very good in run support and had a handful of interceptions. I expect to hear numerous loud bangs coming from the shoulder pads of Hayes throughout his Bison career. 

2016: Ross Kennelly

Ross says: Jack Begley

Begley's a big hitter.  He's also from Nick DeLuca's high school.  Begley is another tall linebacker that can run and when he gets where he's going he packs a wallop.  Expect the strength staff to put weight on Begley, which will, scarily enough, increase Begley's tackling impact.  There might not be much space on the immediate linebacker 2-deep, but Begley's time will come.

2016: Darren Kelley

Best Recruiting Moment

Ryan says: Noah Gindorff turning down the Gophers

As someone who also covers Minnesota recruiting, I can tell everyone with 100% confidence that Noah Gindorff did in fact turn down a legitimate offer from the University of Minnesota to attend North Dakota State. Of course, there's more than what meets the eye here with Gindorff feeling scorned by the Gophers for many months, but Fleck made a run at him when he took over, and Gindorff decided to stay with NDSU. 

2016: Dillon Radunz saying no to the SEC

Ross says: Noah Gindorff's thanks but no thanks to Minnesota

Whether folks like to admit it or not, there is still a bit of a rivalry between NDSU and Minnesota, at least between the fan bases.  Bison fans still crow about outplaying Minnesota three times (winning twice) in the 2000s, and Gopher fans still talk down to Bison fans for being FCS.  Not only does Gindorff fill a huge need in the NDSU passing game, but it serves as a nice how-do-ya-do to the fans from the B1G school in the closest proximity.  It doesn't hurt that he's the best prospect in the class.

2016: Adam Cofield flipping

Worst Recruiting Moment

Ryan says: Isaiah Hill flipping to SDSU

After holding on to Isaiah Hill for many months over the Jackrabbits, the Bison weren't able to overcome concerns about the lack of passing in the offense and SDSU was able to flip NDSU's former wide receiver commit with only a couple weeks left until NSD. 

2016: Lloyd flipping to the Badgers

Ross says: Marcus Hayes going to New Mexico

Hayes would have been a fantastic late addition to the class and the staff felt as though there was quite a bit of steam in the direction of him joining the Bison after a solid in-home visit.  That said, they couldn't overcome Hayes' concerns about the FCS, and he chose New Mexico.  While FBS, New Mexico is not a great program and likely offer Hayes a more difficult road to the NFL than would North Dakota State (his ultimate goal).

2016: Lloyd flipping to the Badgers

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 2017 class. 

2016: NDSU fans

Ross says: Atif Austin

The Florida recruiting pipeline should be acknowledged in this case.  NDSU got two players at important positions that were their only players at those positions in this class, including their 2017 QB.  The Bison have long tried to fill their skill positions with players from outside the area, and Florida is no different.  Tre Dempsey. Chris Board and Felix Dixon all hail from the Sunshine State, as do three key members of this class.

2016: Matt Entz