When Minot State University football coach Paul Rudolph unveiled 16 members of the program's 2013 recruiting class during a press conference Wednesday, there was quite a bit of North Dakota talk.
For good reason.
Nearly a third of the athletes who signed letters of intent on National Signing Day were home-state standouts, and all five of those local talents live within an hour-and-a-half drive of Minot.
Minot State University football coach Paul Rudolph discusses his 2013 recruiting class Wednesday at the MSU Dome.
"In the local guys there's kind of a mix between some guys who are gonna have to work hard and some guys who have a chance to play fairly early in their career," Rudolph said. "But (it's) a good mix of dudes. They all have a chance to play."
Tanner Gust, a two-time Class AAA all-state selection from Minot High, will bring his 5-foot-11, 240-pound frame to the Beavers. Gust earned the reputation as a lunch-pail defender for the Magicians, finishing his career with 196 tackles and 14 sacks.
"Tanner's a good, hard-nosed tough guy that likes to play," Rudolph said. "We're gonna try to play him at defensive end, and if he can't play at defensive end, we'll put him at fullback."
A pair of Surrey standouts will make the leap from 9-man high school football to NCAA Division II competition. Holden Hartley (6-5, 335 pounds, OL) was a four-year letterwinner for the Mustangs and a second-team all-state pick. Tayler Wallstrum (6-2, 260, FB/LB) is a three-sport athlete who also competes in basketball and track and field.
Rudolph said both Mustang signees have good size and solid frames for the college game.
"They're probably a year or two away, but at the same token, extremely excited about wanting to make a go at (playing college football)," Rudolph said.
Berthold standout Logan Gunderson, a first-team all-state selection, has competed in North Dakota state tournaments with the Bombers in football, basketball and track and field.
"You watch Logan play basketball - he's got good feet, he runs around," Rudolph said of the 6-2, 259-pounder. "He's not as big as he needs to get yet, but ... he's got good athleticism."
Nathan Rauhauser of Turtle Lake is the final North Dakota signee. He'll join his older brother Ryan, a defensive tackle, on the Beavers.
Nathan earned all-state honors for his play as a 6-3, 210-pound tight end and linebacker at Central McLean High School.
"He's probably more of the tight end that catches balls," Rudolph said. "His forte is not blocking yet. We're gonna have to teach him how to block, teach him how to get after it, but he's not lost on the football field as far as athleticism goes. ... I see him as a guy that's gonna really blossom into a good one."
Rudolph said he'd prefer to redshirt all the freshmen, but some may prove too valuable to the team to sit out.
Here's a quick look at the out-of-state athletes who signed with the Beavers on Monday:
- Kyle Kaminski (6-2, 205, OLB, Satellite Beach, Fla.). Finished with 33 solo and 26 assisted tackles for Satellite High during his senior season. He also added four sacks and two interceptions.
- Brandon Mentlick (6-2, 260, DT, Oviedo, Fla.). Tallied four sacks and two interceptions in 2012 for Hagerty High School.
- Ray Watkins (6-4, 179, WR, Melbourne, Fla.). Lanky receiver also competes in basketball and track and field for Melbourne Central Catholic High School.
- Brody Myers (6-4, 230, TE/DE, Murrieta, Calif.). Named first-team all-conference after his senior campaign.
- Kevin Tucker (6-4, 260, OL, Newman, Calif.). Named first-team all-league and selected to compete in state's North/South all-star game.
- Zachary Walther (6-1, 295, OL/DL, Renton, Wash.). Named all-state for his play at center during his senior season.
- Bryce Broome (5-10, 180, DB, Port Orchard, Wash.). First-team all-state selection who collected 132 tackles and 22 interceptions during his career.
- Jace Taylor (6-3, 225, C, Fairview, Mont.). Helped Fairview High School to the Class C title game in 2012. Earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior and senior.
- DeBray Bonner (5-11, 193, DB, Woodsboro, Texas). Named all-state after his senior year. Also competed in basketball, baseball and track and field at Woodsboro High School.
- JimMyron Ross (6-0, 170, DB, Canton, Miss.). Finished his senior year at Canton Public School with 44 tackles, two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble.
- Sam Strange (6-3, 190, LB, Priddis, Alberta). Named team's most valuable defensive player. Also competed in rugby and track and field.
Rudolph said he's looking to add a couple more high schoolers and a couple of college transfers who can play immediately.
Cross country/track and field adds 3
MSU cross country and track and field coach Stu Melby announced the signings of three distance runners on Wednesday, all of whom could compete in both sports.
The women's team added a pair of local athletes in Minot High's Samantha Huether and Surrey's Patience Albertson.
Huether finished eighth at the state cross country meet in 2011 to earn all-state honors. In 2012, she placed sixth at the state track and field meet in the 300-meter hurdles.
Albertson is a four-time all-region selection in cross country and earned all-state honors in 2011.
On the men's side, Gilberto Beltran was the lone signee for the Beavers. Melby said he likes the upside of Beltran, who didn't begin running competitively until his junior year at Otay Ranch High School in Imperial Beach, Calif.
"All three of these runners are going to improve this program," Melby said in a press release. "I am pleased with the class we have so far, but our signing period runs until Aug. 1, and we are going to look to get as many kids as we can."
Soccer team adds 9
MSU women's soccer coach Jason Spain went back to his favorite recruiting grounds - California - to pluck seven of the nine athletes who signed with the Beavers on Wednesday.
Four of those recruits - center back Taylor Franco, wing back Jayden Garcia, striker Erika Linch and midfielder Madison Levine - played at Sutter High School, where Spain used to coach.
Spain said the athletic Linch scored 66 goals in 18 games last season and was recruited by several Division I programs.
"She lives to score," Spain said. "You can tell watching video of her she runs over, through, around everybody. She's bigger, stronger, faster, and we kind of needed that."
With the entire back line returning for the Beavers, who finished fourth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and won the NSIC tournament, Spain focused on adding more midfielders and attackers. Of the Beavers' nine announced signings, just one (Franco) is a defender and one is a goalie.
"We really wanted to plug in some holes this year so we could be more attack-minded," Spain said.
MSU also added two players from England - striker Chloe Melton and wing back Cheryl Edwards.
Spain said it helped that the Beavers' leading goal scorer in 2012, Zoe Fisher, also came from England and has enjoyed success playing for MSU.
"Zoe was Facebook friends with some of these girls prior to us even recruiting them," Spain said. "I know Zoe had very good things to say about Minot ... and talking to Cheryl's parents, they were very comfortable sending her to Minot and our school."
In addition to the English and Sutter High recruits, the Beavers received letters of intent from three Mt. San Jacinto College standouts. Taylor Wolf, a 5-7 goalkeeper, signed along with midfielder Yuvitza Garcia and forward Jamie Ayala.
Garcia and Ayala were named first-team all-Foothill Conference, and Wolf sustained a .919 save percentage.
Spain said he expects to add two more recruits - one more from California, one more from England - before the signing period ends.