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Bemidji State football: National signing day recruits include a local 'Onion' and a few Texans

Bemidji State head football coach Jeff Tesch talks about his 38-member recruiting class during a press conference Wednesday at BSU. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State football team addressed its needs for the upcoming season by recruiting defense, unlikely prospects from Texas and a local player who goes by the nickname "Onion."

"I can stand here today and say that we are a better team than we were a year ago at this time," Bemidji State head coach Jeff Tesch said during the press conference Wednesday that announced the 2009 recruiting class.

Of the 38 commitments, 15 signed National Letters of Intent and 20 signed letters of admission. The three transfers are already enrolled at BSU.

Tesch acknowledged the success of the National Football Committee, a fundraising network of BSU football alumni that helped to boost scholarship funding.

"Without them, we would not have got the players we did this year," Tesch said.

One of the top recruits is Jordan Oien, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound offensive lineman out of Clearbrook-Gonvick High School who is nicknamed the "Onion."

"You've got to love a guy with a nickname like that," Tesch said. "People have said that he hits players so hard that they start crying - so you have to love that."

Oien chose Bemidji State over the University of North Dakota and has the potential to contribute immediately for the Beavers next season.

Tesch was also pleased with the regional Minnesota additions.

Running back Averey Duncan, a 5-11, 173-pound running back out of St. Bernard's School will attend Bemidji State. Duncan is also a player on St. Bernard's state-ranked boys basketball team.

Anthony LaVoy, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end out of Mahnomen will attend Bemidji State.

Matthew Shaver, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive end out of St. Cloud Apollo is one of Minnesota's top wrestlers and a specialist who shares the state blocked kicks record (10).

Bemidji State made recruiting inroads into Texas for the first time in 2009 by drawing commitments from quarterback Larry Miller and running back Alvandrick 'Skip' Womack.

Miller (6-1, 180 pounds) comes from a strong football family and lists his mother's cousin as 1977 Heisman winner Earl Campbell.

"If we can get even one-half or one-quarter of Earl Campbell, we are going to be getting one heck of a good football player," Tesch said of Miller, who comes out of Duncanville High School in Dallas.

Womack (5-9, 198 pounds) finished his high school career with over 6,000 all-purpose yards. An Internet video showcases Womack's explosiveness at the line of scrimmage and his ability to elude defenders.

"If you look at that video, he has some really outstanding moves," Tesch said.

Womack is a player that appears to be a sleeper for the Beavers.

"Guys like Skip fall through the cracks," Tesch said. "He played in Louisiana and then went to Texas where he played linebacker his senior year. There was one thing I learned when I went down to Texas - if you are not good in your junior year, you are not on the bigger schools radar."

Tesch and the Beavers addressed immediate needs by recruiting a total of 15 defensive players and three transfers.

Headlining the transfers is freshman Papapa Nicholas-Silvira, who left Division I Oregon State and is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder is already on campus attending classes and Tesch feels he will be ready for 2009.

The other transfers are defensive back Anthony Ragsdale (5-10, 200 pounds) and offensive lineman Arlen Roberts (6-2, 250 pounds). Both come from California junior colleges.

Tesch said the recruiting process was a challenge this season. Some of the those factors can be attributed to recruiting in the expanded Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference against teams like Division II national champion Minnesota-Duluth.

Competition to land recruits between teams in the Northern Sun can be difficult at times, but Tesch said playing in the Northern Sun is one of Bemidji State's biggest selling points.

"It definitely was an advantage in talking to the out of state kids," Tesch said. "We can say our competition is good - we have a national football champion, we have a national basketball champion, we have a national volleyball champion - they will get competition and we can push their way."

Bemidji State finished the 2009 season, the first in the expanded NSIC, with a 5-6 overall record and 4-6 conference record.

"We had our first losing season in 11 years and that's not something that we are used to or going to accept," Tesch said. "We started to play well at the end of the year and that was a good experience. We hope that our recruiting class, along with our red shirts can help us to start competing for the conference title right away."

National Letter of Intent Signees (Name, position, high school): Tyler Abrahamson, offensive lineman, Irondale. Chris Bellinger, defensive back, Sequoyah (Ga.). Jason Bromm, linebacker, Barrington (Ill.). Averey Duncan, running back, St. Bernard's. Jordan Johnson, defensive back, Mora. Anthony LaVoy, defensive end, Mahnomen. Christian Metz, wide receiver, Cambridge-Isanti. Larry Miller, Quarterback, Duncanville (Dallas, Texas). Jordan Oien, offensive lineman, Clearbrook-Gonvick. Tim Orr, tight end, Wasilla (Alaska). Jake Safstrom, defensive tackle, Grafton (Wis.). Matthew Shaver, defensive tackle, St. Cloud Apollo. Collin Stoffel, linebacker, Surprise (Ariz.). Alvandrick Womack, running back, Manvel (Rosharon, Texas). Buckley Wright, Bishop Heelan Catholic (Sioux City, Iowa).

Transfer commitments (name, position, class, last school): Papapa Nicholas Silva, defensive tackle, freshman, Oregon State. Anthony Ragsdale, junior, defensive back, Chabot (Calif.) College. Arlen Roberts, junior, offensive line, Mendocino (Calif.) CC.

Offer of Admission signees (Name, position, high school): Lucas Armstrong, offensive line, Cambridge-Isanti. Matt Benge, linebacker, Lakeville South. Nick Bliss, linebacker, Mora. Nolan Dokken, running back, Cloquet. Allan Dostal, defensive back, Badger-Greenbush/Middle River. Billon Fogarty, linebacker, Belle Plaine. Alex Haas, quarterback, Milaca. Matt Heath, defensive back, Eau Claire (Wis.). Bruce Koepp, offensive lineman, Belle Plaine. Brent Kondziolka, fullback, Carl Sandburg (Ill.). Colin McKenzie, defensive back, Wauconda (Ill.). Bryce Nelson, offensive lineman, Inver Grove Heights. Blayze Peterson, wide receiver, Owatonna. James Plain, wide receiver, Wyoming (Minn.). Matthew Sedlock, tight end/linebacker, Cambridge-Isanti. Brandon Sorenson, wide receiver, Stephen-Argyle. Cody Stamper, defensive end, Mora. Mike Swedlund, wide receiver/defensive back, Hoffman Estates (Ill.), Myles Swenson, wide receiver, Milaca. Gary Young, defensive end, Crete-Monee (Ill.).