Knutson, 14 others sign with BSU

With a brand new Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference ring glimmering in the light of the cameras, Bemidji State head football coach Jeff Tesch announced the addition of 49 student athletes during a press conference Wednesday.

With a brand new Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference ring glimmering in the light of the cameras, Bemidji State head football coach Jeff Tesch announced the addition of 49 student athletes during a press conference Wednesday.

It was the first day high school seniors around the country were able to sign National Letters of Intent.

The 2007 class, the largest in the history of the program, consists of 15 athletes who signed an NLI and will receive some form of athletic scholarship. The remaining 34 athletes have signed letters of admission to attend Bemidji State.

Of the scholarship players 10 are defensive players and five offensive.

"We're excited obviously with the number of guys that we've got committed to the program," Tesch said. "The success of the season had a lot to do with that."


The Beavers earned their first conference championship since 1959 and their first-ever post season action with a berth into the Mineral Water Bowl where they lost to perennial power Pittsburg State 35-27.

"It definitely helped get our foot in the door with a lot of the better players," Tesch said of this year's recruiting process.

Highlighting the class is area standout Luke Knutson of Bagley.

"We always try to start with players in our own backyard," Tesch said. "It seems like he had a want to be here right away and that's how we've built our program with guys that have a strong desire to be here.

"I just like how hard he plays; he plays hard every down and as he continues to fill out I think he's got a huge upside. He's going to be a great player here."

The 6-foot-1, 200 pounder is expected to play outside linebacker for the Beavers - a position he thrived at in high school.

"BSU lets their linebackers kind of roam free and call what they want at the line of scrimmage and that is exciting to me," Knutson said.

Knutson, who ultimately chose BSU over North Dakota, totaled 33 sacks on varsity over three seasons, including 13 during the Flyers' 6-4 campaign last fall.


"I liked the coaching staff at BSU; especially their linebackers coach (Brent Bolte)," Knutson said. "I liked the overall program too, they are always looking for good talent as well as good people; I felt very comfortable with that."

As a whole the 2007 class is a pool of athletes that possess possibly more talent than any recruiting class in history.

In total, the scholarship athletes have earned 44 letters in football, 22 all-conference selections, 12 all-state selections - including two second teamers - and 12 Player of the Year honors.

The Beavers graduate around 10 from the 2006 team but looming is the loss of nearly 30 juniors following the 2007 season.

Still, Tesch said the staff didn't zero in on one specific need with this class of recruits.

"We've always gone out and tried to get the best kids we could get," he said.

Tesch continues to do well in Minnesota with five scholarship players. Illinois was next with four while two come from Missouri and Alaska and one each call Iowa and North Dakota home.

In addition to Knutson, Tesch and his staff brought in fellow Minnesotans Kellen Gulickson (LB, 6-0, 215) from Monticello High School, David Larson (RB, 6-0, 195) from Eden Prairie, Colin Peterson (DL, 6-2, 285) from Forest Lake and Eric Zingleman (DL, 6-2, 250) from Andover.


Gulickson led Monticello in tackles the past two seasons and holds the school's career mark for quarterback sacks.

Zingleman was named the Northwest Suburban Conference MVP of the defensive line in 2006 and also earned All-Metro and second-team All-State honors.

Peterson currently has just one loss in wrestling at the heavyweight level.

From Illinois is Anthony Benedetto (WR, 6-0, 180) from Crystal Lake South, Justin Lee (CB, 5-10, 180) from Columbia High School, Micky Nicholas (QB, 6-0, 175) from Oak Forest High School and Dustin Sluzewicz (CB, 6-0, 18-0) from Lockport High School.

"Benedetto we really think will help fill our receiver needs," Tesch said of the 3-time team MVP. "Benedetto, Lee and Sluzewicz can all really run."

The Beavers continued their trek north to find players bringing in George Percak-Dennett (OLB, 6-1, 220) from Colony High School in Wasilla, Alaska and Austin Roberts (OL, 6-4, 245) out of Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska.

Percak-Dennett was named the 2006 Gatorade Player of the Year for Alaska and also earned Defensive Player of the Year in class 4A. He totaled 95 tackles last fall with 26 tackles for loss and 14 sacks.

"I don't even think he even realizes just how good of a football player he really is," Tesch said of Percak-Dennett.


Roberts was named Alaska's 2006 Lineman of the Year. He earned first-team all-conference and all-state honors at both offensive guard and defensive end in the fall.

Tesch also plucked a few out of Missouri, where the Beavers have brought in just a handful of players in its history. He said the exposure from playing in the MWB in Excelsior Springs helped land Zachariah Busch (OL, 6-2, 282) from Kearney High School and Tyler McDonald (CB, 5-10, 185) from Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Mo.

"Busch is from a town right next to where we played our bowl game," Tesch said. "That had a lot to do with him hearing about us otherwise we would've never recruited him."

As a sophomore Busch earned first-team all-conference on the offensive line and earned the same honor on both the offensive and defensive lines as a junior. He also picked up a first-team all-state honor on the offensive line and a second-team all-state honor on the defensive line that season. This season he earned all-conference, all-district and all-state on the offensive line.

"Busch is probably our prize lineman," Tesch said. "He's a big kid who can really run around."

McDonald, a 2006 graduate who sat out last season battling viral meningitis, was a four-year letterwinner for Rock Bridge.

Rounding out the 15 scholarship players is Bryce Buchanan (LB, 6-1, 208) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Zach Wold (S, 5-11, 180) out of Hatton, N.D.

Buchanan is a three-year starter who led his team in tackles and interceptions as a junior.


Wold started all four years for Hatton earning first-team all-conference and second-team all-state as a senior.

Tesch said of the 34 players who signed a letter of admission to BSU many are high-quality athletes who turned down other offers to be a part of the BSU program.

Bemidji's own Justin Hunt (WR, 5-10, 155), who earned all-state honorable mention last fall, is one of 10 regional athletes who will enroll at BSU.

Hunt ended with 907 receiving yards as a senior and broke the school mark for yards receiving in a single game with 217.

"Hunt really fits into some of the things we do when we have our four wide outs on the field," Tesch said. "He's another kid that had a strong interest in being here."

The other regional players are Matt Anderson (LB, 5-10, 215) from Hibbing, Josh Beste (LB, 6-2, 225) from East Grand Forks, Jacob Caillier (OL, 6-2, 280) from Crookston, Kolby Gullickson (RB, 5-11, 200) from Fertile-Beltrami, Jesse Sundby (PK, 5-8, 190) from Stephen-Argyle and Brian Jensen (RB, 5-11, 210) and Jacob Ledding (LB, 6-0, 200) from Underwood and Nate Arends (OL, 6-3, 295) and Alex Pearson (FS, 6-3, 180) from Moorhead.

Gullickson, Jensen and Ledding were also named all-state honorable mention last fall.

Other recruits earning all-state honorable mention in the fall were James Fischer (OL, 6-4, 250) from Lakeville South, Davis Mickelson (OL, 6-6, 285) from Ashby and Tim Saxon (WR, 6-1, 185) from Minneapolis Patrick Henry.


Tesch said with the graduation of just a handful of players in the offseason all of the 2007 class will likely redshirt.

2007 signing class

Signed National Letter of Intent

Name, position, hometown (high school)

Anthony Benedetto, WR, Crystal Lake, Ill. (Crystal Lake South); Bryce Buchanan, LB, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Washington); Zachariah Busch, OL, Holt, Mo. (Kearney); Kellen Gullickson, LB, Big Lake, Minn. (Monticello); Luke Knutson, OLB, Bagley, Minn. (Bagley); David Larson, RB, Eden Prairie, Minn. (Eden Prairie); Justin Lee, CB, Elgin, Ill. (Columbia); Tyler McDannald, CB, Columbia, Mo. (Rock Bridge); Micky Nicholas, QB, Oak Forest, Ill. (Oak Forest); George Percak-Dennett, OLB, Wasilla, Alaska (Colony); Colin Peterson, DL, Chisago City, Minn. (Forest Lake); Austin Roberts, OL, Soldotna, Alaska (Soldotna); Dustin Sluzewicz, CB, Homer Glen, Ill. (Lockport); Zach Wold, S, Hatton, N.D. (Hatton); Eric Zingleman, DL, Ham Lake, Minn. (Andover).

Signed Letter of Admission

Cameron Abram, WR, Brooklyn Park, Minn. (Osseo); Matt Anderson, LB, Hibbing, Minn. (Hibbing); Nate Arends, OT, Moorhead, Minn. (Moorhead); Josh Beste, LB, East Grand Forks, Minn. (East Grand Forks); Michael Brown, RB, Lake in the Hills, Ill. (Crystal Lake South); Jacob Caillier, OL, Crookston, Minn. (Crookston); Robert Clay, DB, Omaha, Neb. (Omaha Central); James Fischer, OL, Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville South); Ben Gort, TE, Forest Lake, Minn. (Forest Lake); Kolby Gullickson, RB, Fertile, Minn. (Fertile-Beltrami); Justin Hunt, WR, Bemidji, Minn. (Bemidji); Cory Immerman, OL, Becker, Minn. (Becker); Matthew Jauch, LB, Middleton, Wis. (Middleton); Brian Jensen, RB, Underwood, Minn. (Underwood); Jeffrey Johnson, LB, Maywood, Ill. (Proviso East); Scott Kettner, TE, Milwaukee, Wis. (Hartford Union); Jacob Ledding, LB, Underwood, Minn. (Underwood); Davis Mickelson, OL, Ashby, Minn. (Ashby Public); Kris Micksch, PK, Clintonville, Wis. (Shawano); Stephen Pappas, OL, Appleton, Wis. (Appleton East); Alex Pearson, FS, Moorhead, Minn. (Moorhead); Chase Quinney, QB, Gresham, Wis. (Shawano Community); Jeremy Ross, LB, Sauk Centre, Minn. (Sauk Centre); Connor Sathre, QB, Maple Grove, Minn. (Osseo); Tim Saxon, WR, Minneapolis, Minn. (Patrick Henry); Jordan Schaeffer, OL, Bismarck, N.D. (Century); Tyson Schatz, RB, MInot, N.D. (MInot); Jake Schmidt, S, Frederic, Wis. (Frederic); Jerry Smith, DL, Eau Claire, Wis. (Eau Claire); Nathaniel Solors, PK, Elk River, Minn. (Elk River); Jesse Sundby, PK, Argyle, Minn. (Stephen-Argyle Central); Curtis Szmanski, CB, Calhan, Colo. (Calhan); Ryan Webber, WR, Fon du Lac, Wis.; Nick Wilson, DL, Green Isle, Minn. (Mayer Lutheran).

What To Read Next
Get Local