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FOOTBALL: Beavers add 32 on National Signing Day

BEMIDJI -- Despite all the attention the skill players get on an up-tempo offense like Bemidji State runs, a football program is always going to need some “big uglies” up front to make what they do possible.

Head coach Brent Bolte announced the signings of 32 additions to the BSU football program on National Signing Day Wednesday. That total includes 11 linemen (four on offense, seven on defense), a position that was a focal point of this year’s recruiting class.

“I think ever since I’ve taken the program over, it ends and starts with the O-line and D-line,” Bolte said. “We were fortunate early in the process to get those guys on board. It’s weird to think that we run the spread, tempo offense and all that sort of stuff, but to be honest with you, we’re not (going to) be good and you’re not (going to) win consistently in this league without being able to be physically matched up.”

The Beavers will have some holes to fill on the line of scrimmage next season, which could provide a chance for a new signee to already see playing time. That’s not normally the case, Bolte said.

“Those guys, some of them will play next year,” Bolte said. “We’re a little bit thinner, so that’ll be something, too…. I want four scholarship kids per class, and I’m telling you, there’s a lot of coaches in the league that would flat-out trade probably for that O-line and D-line group.”

Altogether, the program welcomed 15 signees on offense, 14 on defense and one special teams player, as well as a pair of players who could suit up on either side of the ball.

One such player is Tyler Lackowski, a fullback/linebacker from El Dorado Hills, Calif. He’s also the brother of BSU’s leading rusher Drew Lackowski, which could make for a brotherly one-two punch in the backfield.

“We’re excited to have the Lackowskis,” Bolte said. “We’ll have a fullback. I can’t imagine how that’d work -- if his brother makes a block up front as Drew comes screaming at them.”

Two running backs -- Sherrod Kpahn of Elk River and Nate Baranek of De Pere, Wis. -- are in this year’s class, as well as fullback Brady Bartz of Mequon, Wis, a corps of six receivers and three tight ends.

On defense, this year’s class also features six linebackers, two defensive backs and a defensive end.

A couple more signings could be announced over the coming days as paperwork gets filed. Only one position (quarterback) did not feature in Wednesday’s signings, though the team is working to address that.

“We certainly are working hard on that one to fill it out, but otherwise we felt pretty good about what we ended up having with the group,” Bolte said.

2018 BSU Football Signing Class

JT Awosika, Maple Grove (OL, 6-5, 277)

Dawson Breyer, Fargo, N.D. (K/P, 5-9, 155)

Max Buduris, Shorewood, Ill. (DB, 6-1, 180)

Ty Cobb, Mounds View (OL, 6-3, 268)

Bryce Duffy, DeForest, Wis. (TE, 6-4, 215)

Gunnar Feldhege, Cold Spring (DB, 5-11, 160)

Connor Foley, New Ulm (TE, 6-3, 200)

Brandon Frankfurth, Anoka (OL, 6-2, 285)

Noah Gjermo, Deerfield, Wis. (LB, 6-4, 195)

Tucker Hart, Delano (DL, 6-3, 225)

Christian Janes, Salem, Ore. (DL, 6-3, 245)

DJ Johnson, Eden Prairie (WR, 5-8, 165)

Jarrett Klein, DeForest, Wis. (WR, 6-4, 195)

Josh Knutson, Aurelia, N.D. (WR, 6-0, 155)

Sherrod Kpahn, Elk River (RB, 5-8, 185)

Koby Pearson-Bortle, Fargo, N.D. (DL, 6-2, 228)

Devon Pink, Shakopee (DL, 6-5, 215)

Ryan Schnobrich, Brooklyn Park (DL, 6-3, 275)

Keontay Shorter, Minneapolis (WR, 5-9, 160)

Elijah Shumate, Surprise, Ariz. (LB, 6-3, 195)

Adrean Sims, Elkhart, Ind. (WR, 6-4, 175)

Kaleb Stevens, Proctor (DL, 6-2, 245)

Ricky Thompson, Carol Stream, Ill. (LB, 6-3, 210)

Spencer Wehr, Cloquet (LB, 6-1, 198)

Derek Wentworth, Minooka, Ill. (OL, 6-4, 285)

Nate Baranek, De Pere, Wis. (RB, 5-11, 185)

Brady Bartz, Mequon, Wis. (FB, 5-8, 225)

Darien Fair, North Branch (WR, 6-3, 185)

Elijah Huff, Minot, N.D. (DL, 6-1, 277)

Tyler Lackowski, El Dorado Hills, Calif. (FB/LB, 5-11, 200)

Logan Loiselle, Two Harbors (TE/DE, 6-4, 215)

Cole Sorby, Thompson, N.D. (LB, 6-2, 190)

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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