Incoming football recruits saddled with lofty expectations

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

The incoming football recruiting classes for SDSU keep getting better and better.

The 2009 incoming class of recruits is being considered one of most touted classes in Jackrabbit history. Three recruits – Mike Whittier, Eric Koehlmoos and Walker Woods – got grades from that were higher than any of the recruits last year, but the Jacks philosophy is not to single out one player.

“I think it’s a great class,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “Football is such a team sport. For you to single out a single class ? it just goes against our fabric here at South Dakota State football. There are a lot of high expectations for this group, and I think that then translates into we think this is a really good class.”

With junior Ryan Crawford having limited mobility in his wrist from an injury he suffered against North Dakota State, it appeared the Jacks had a question of quarterback; the only other quarterback on the roster is Thomas O’Brien, a redshirt freshman next year. The Jacks were able to bring in Lee Mondol and Mike Whittier. Mondol started out at Michigan before transferring to Ventura College and then to SDSU, while Whittier began his career at the Air Force Academy prep school. Both enrolled this semester and will be ready to go next fall. Stiegelmeier expects it to be a battle coming spring practice and into next fall.

“(Mondol and Whittier) are below the two guys we have on the team,” Stiegelmeier said. “Ryan Crawford ? will be in brackets at the top, and Thomas O’Brien, the young guy from last year, he’s hungry, and he’s being pushed. The other two guys wanted an opportunity, and we wanted them to have an opportunity, so it’s a win-win.”

Malik Humphries and Gianni Washington-Parker, both defensive linemen from California, do not fit the typical Jackrabbit lineman model.

“They are both speed type rush guys,” Stiegelmeier said. “We expect Gianni to get bigger and be more of an inside the tight end guy and Malik to be more of an edge guy. They have as good athletic ability as we’ve been able to recruit at that position. But like I tell everyone, this isn’t a track team. ? How well they play at our level will be determined. I think they have the God-given ability to really make a difference.”

The Jacks were also able to do very well in keeping South Dakota kids in South Dakota. Four South Dakota athletes signed with the Jacks, including Brookings natives Mason Winterboer and Alex Parker. According to Stiegelmeier, Parker will need a year before he grows into the offensive lineman position and then battle for a position in the second year. The coach said it will be good for Winterboer to focus just on football as he was a multi-sport athlete in high school.

It was an even recruiting class as nine players will be on the offensive side, while nine will line up on the defensive side.

It is too early to tell what this recruiting class will bring, but expectations are high. The question is will they be able to live up to it?