19 new gridiron Jacks to wear blue and yellow

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

It may not have been Christmas, but according to head football coach John Stiegelmeier, national signing day at SDSU is closed, and the Jacks sure did get plenty of good gifts.

The Jacks added 19 players to their roster, including three preferred walk-ons that had been recruited by the Jacks but couldn’t be offered scholarships, due to a lack of money or spots. This past season turned out to be a big reason why the Jacks got the recruits they wanted.

“Three things helped in recruiting: the [Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center], the conference championship and moving into the Gateway Conference,” Stiegelmeier said.

The Jacks are now competing with the bigger schools for prized recruits. Kicker Kyle Harris made several visits to Notre Dame but – due to injury – was never offered a position and decided on the Jacks. Still, don’t think the Jacks are going to change their recruiting strategy.

“We make an independent evaluation,” Stiegelmeier said. “We may recruit a guy that only has Division-II visits set.”

Not everyone that verbally committed to the Jacks officially signed with them. The night before signing day, the University of Nebraska called wide receiver Matt Holt for the first time and offered him a walk-on. Stiegelmeier said the coaches “were more disappointed in Nebraska,” and if Holt doesn’t make the team at Nebraska, he could transfer to SDSU and suit up for the Jacks.

The Jacks did very well in the state of South Dakota. Five players from the state committed and will continue playing in their home state. The Jacks also did well in the state of Iowa, where they got six recruits that will go up against future conference foe Northern Iowa.

“They offered a few guys we weren’t going to offer, and we offered maybe a couple guys they weren’t going to go after,” Stiegelmeier said. “But we beat them on a couple of guys, and that feels great.”

Even though signing day has passed, don’t expect the Jacks to be content with what they have; there are still holes to fill at cornerback and safety. Last year, the Jacks found defensive back Cole Brodie after signing day. Brodie blocked a punt in the conference championship against North Dakota State on Nov. 17.

“The problem is we recruit guys for three, four, five months, and now we have to try to squeeze that into a week or two weeks,” Stiegelmeier said. “The last thing we want to do is make a quick decision, for his sake and ours.”