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FOOTBALL: Area athletes highlight latest Bemidji State recruiting class

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BEMIDJI – Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch likes it when area recruits stay home to play for the Beaver football team.

“It’s great. They’re right here, and you don’t have to spend a lot of dollars or time recruiting and you don’t have to worry about them quitting or leaving school,” Tesch said at a press conference Wednesday announcing BSU’s 2013 recruiting class. “You can’t have enough of those local guys.”

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Eight players from northern Minnesota – including local Bemidji High School products Brady Schmidt and Al Johnson – highlight Bemidji State’s class. With 37 incoming players, it’s one of the biggest in years: In fact, Tesch said the Beavers had hit their roster limit of 95 players for the first time since he’s been coaching.

“We graduated a very large class of senior and we had a lot of holes to fill,” Tesch said.

Aside from Schmidt and Johnson, also coming to BSU from northern Minnesota are Tucker Forsgren from Pelican Rapids, Jamison Evans from Grand Rapids, Jake Krause from Wadena, Nick Janitte of International Falls and Skyler Schroeder of East Grand Forks. Mac Mueller from Rocori represents Central Minnesota.

“I think we did as well in Northern Minnesota as we have in a long time. And all these kids we’ve recruited have the potential to be three, four year starters.”

Schmidt, a 5-foot-10 running back, and Johnson, a 6-foot-3 lineman, have helped lead Bemidji to the state tournament three times in four years. The Lumberjacks lost in the championship game in 2011 and made it to the semifinals in 2012.

Schmidt, a running back who carried the ball 123 times for 903 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012, will give the Beavers a ton of speed. And for Tesch, it was nice that he was right in BSU’s backyard – literally. BHS plays its home games at Chet Anderson Stadium.

“It’s interesting, for as much as we go to places like Arizona and Illinois to recruit, we have one of the faster kids we’ve seen right in our own backyard,” Tesch said. “Brady brings a lot to the table with nice speed. We’re excited to keep the local kids like him in town.”

Johnson is another Lumberjack who will stay home to play for the Beavers. A 6-3, 285 lineman, Johnson was all-section as a senior. He is a preferred walk-on, so Tesch wasn’t at liberty to comment on Johnson, but the Beavers are graduating a few of their top lineman and will need plenty in reserve.

Bemidji High School fans will also remember some other names on BSU’s 2013 list.

Rocori’s Mueller, a defensive back/cornerback, is an athlete about whom Tesch is excited.

“He’s been a thorn in Bemidji High Schools side for a while now,” Tesch said of the 6-0, 200 athlete. “He’s one of those kids that can do anything for us.”

Evans, a physical linebacker from Grand Rapids, also stands out.

“Jamison is fun to watch,” Tesch said. “He’s a big hitter. You put that kid in Eden Prairie High School, he’d have a lot more people recruiting him.

“You seem him and you say, ‘Wow.’ He’s just lifting guys up and launching them. He’s a striker. … We watched some film and right away we were sold.”

Aside from the area players, the Beavers continued to mine their fertile recruiting grounds of Wisconsin (10 players), Illinois (seven players) and Arizona (four players).

One standout not from any of those states is quarterback Adam Ragsdale, a native of Turlock, Calif., who played at College of Sequoias last season. He transfers in as a junior, which gives the Beavers a player with collegiate experience to replace two-year starter Lance Rongstad.

“We felt we had four good candidates at quarterback but none have played much,” Tesch said. “We felt we needed someone with more college experience. And the first thing you’ll see about Adam him is arm strength. He’s athletic, has good presence in the huddle and is a grinder.”

The Beavers, who finished 7-4 overall in 2012 and won a piece of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division title, will have to replace 17 seniors. Tesch said this class will go a long way toward next year as well as the future.

“A lot of the time we take best athletes possible and move guys around,” Tesch said. “We still will do some of that, but we recruited for positions this year too.”

2013 BSU Football Signing Class

National Letter of Intent Signees

Justin Bishop, WR, 6-3, 170, Tolleson, Ariz. (Apollo HS)

Vince Dinkel, WR, 6-2, 185, Marathon, Wis. (Marathon HS)

Jamison Evans, OLB, 6-3, 200, Deer River, Minn. (Grand Rapids HS)

Tucker Forsgren, TE, 6-5, 225, Pelican Rapids, Minn. (Pelican Rapids HS)

Justin Gedaly, ILB, 6-1, 225, Lake In The Hills, Ill. (Huntley HS)

Austin Hephner, DL, 6-3, 200, Chilton, Wis. (Chilton HS)

Jordan Johnson, OLB, 6-3, 195, Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville South HS)

Jake Krause, OL, 6-3, 260, Wadena, Minn. (Wadena-Deer Creek HS)

Abe Mendivil, DB/OLB, 6-1, 200, Phoenix, Ariz. (Apollo HS)

Evan Metag, RB/FB, 6-3, 211, Hutchinson, Minn. (Hutchinson HS)

Ben Meyers, DL, 6-3, 220, Plainfield, Ill. (Plainfield North HS)

Anthonee Monson, OLB, 6-0, 210, Morris, Ill. (Morris Community HS)

Mac Mueller, DB/CB, 6-0, 175, Cold Spring, Minn. (Rocori HS)

Juwaan Richard, WR, 5-11, 165, Schaumburg, Ill. (Schaumburg HS)

Rufus Saylee, DB/CB, 6-1, 180, Brooklyn Park, Minn. (Park Center HS)

Brandon Schindler, OL, 6-6, 278, Waterford, Wis. (Waterford Union HS)

Brady Schmidt, RB, 5-10, 185, Bemidji, Minn. (Bemidji HS)

Mickeel Stewart, RB, 6-0, 200, Oswego, Ill. (Oswego HS)

Bryan Tomaszewski, DB/CB, 5-1, 185, Green Bay, Wis. (Green Bay Southwest HS)

Evan Tompkins, DB/S, 6-0, 200, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Pinnacle HS)

Colton Tretsven, OL, 6-5, 280, Grantsburg, Wis. (Grantsburg HS)

Tyler Usterbowski, DB/WR, 5-9, 180 Oak Forest, Ill. (Oak Forest HS)

Jake Wirsching, DL/LS, 6-4, 215, Waterford, Wis. (Waterford Union HS)

Eric Wunrow, TE, 6-4, 210, River Falls, Wis. (River Falls Senior HS)

Transfer Commitments

Ralph Biah, DB/CB 5-10, 175, So-TR, Providence, R.I. (Northland Comm. & Tech. College)

Ronnie Horne, DB/CB, 5-7, 175, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Saguaro HS)

Adam Ragsdale, QB, 6-2, 200, Jr-TR, Turlock, Calif. (College of Sequoias)

BSU Offers of Admission Signees

Alex Burgess, DL, 6-2, 240, Hudson, Wis. (Hudson HS)

David Burrell Jr., DB/CB, 5-11, 160, Chicago, Ill. (Bremen HS)

Cristian Garcia, DB/OLB, 5-10, 170, Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville South High HS)

Nick Janttie, DB/S, 6-2, 190, International Falls, Minn. (International Falls HS)

Alex Johnson, OL/DL, 6-3, 285, Bemidji, Minn. (Bemidji HS)

Skyler Schroeder, LS/OL 6-4, 235, East Grand Forks, Minn. (East Grand Forks HS)

Sam Stevens, RB, 5-11, 195, Plymouth, Ind. (Plymouth HS)

Spencer Urban, QB, 6-3, 215, Superior, Wis. (Superior HS)

Anthony Valentine, OLB, 6-0, 200, Superior, Wis. (Superior HS)

Trevor Wettlaufer, DB/S, 5-11, 190, Bottineau, N.D. (Bottineau HS)

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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