The University of Minnesota, Morris football team will start the 2009-2010 season with 29 new players coming in from eight states.
Assistant coach Matt Johnson, who also heads UMM's recruiting efforts, says this is the most well-rounded class they've gathered in his six years of coaching in Morris.
"Many of these players we expect to start contributing this year - on both sides of the ball," Johnson adds.
The Cougars begin practice on Saturday, August 15. NCAA rules require three days of conditioning and skill work before any contact drills. That means the pads come on Tuesday, August 18. This will give the Cougars ten days of preparation before hosting Concordia-Moorhead for a scrimmage on Friday, August 28.
The addition of 28 players brings the Cougars roster up to the mid-60s, which, Johnson says, is always a good thing.
"You can't have enough bodies to share [repetitions]."
The bulk of this year's class comes from Minnesota, but there are other players coming from as far away as California, Texas and Florida to wear the maroon and gold this fall in Big Cat.
The Cougars open the 2009 season away at Trinity Bible College on Sept. 1.
The home opener will be Sept. 19 against the Blue Jays of Westminster College (MO).
The 2009 Cougar football recruiting class:
1. Evan Beranek - New Prague High School, New Prague (6'3", 243 lbs): Evan was a two-year honorable mention All-Conference football player in high school and also participated in wrestling and track.
2. Eric Hunt - Spring Lake Park High School, Spring Lake Park (6'2", 290 lbs): Eric comes to UMM from a successful program at Spring Lake Park where he won the Most Improved Award during his senior football season. Eric was also a two-year letter winner in track.
3. Eric Nelson - Delano High School, Delano (6'3", 300 lbs): This past season Eric was honored with Honorable Mention All-Conference as well as O-Lineman of the Year for Delano. Aside from football, Eric was also All-Conference and All-State in wrestling, earning a berth at the state wrestling tournament.
4. Nathan Walters - Litchfield High School, Litchfield (5'11", 195 lbs): Nathan's frame is not typical for an aspiring offensive lineman, but the results cannot be questioned. Nathan was elected captain for his senior season, and also received All-Conference accolades, not only in football, but in track as well.
5. Cody Perkins - Vermillion Community College, Vermillion, Burrnburbon Academy, Vermont (6'0", 295 lbs): Cody spent the past two years at VCC where he played offensive guard. While in high school Cody played in the Vermont North/South high school All-star game.
6. Tommy Leon - Hanks High School, El Paso, TX (6'1", 260 lbs): Tommy is looking forward to playing offensive line for the Cougars. During his high school career Tommy was named All-Area Honorable Mention, All-El Paso Offensive Line, and team captain. He was also awarded several game balls.
7. Ben Kettler - Melrose High School, Melrose (6'5", 200 lbs): Ben is a defensive lineman who was awarded Honorable Mention All-Conference, as well as Honorable Mention St. Cloud All-Area. Ben also won the "Black Lions Award" for his team. Aside from his participation in football, he also was Honorable Mention All-Conference in track.
8. Matt Anderson - Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Hibbing High School, Hibbing (5'9", 245 lbs): After spending the past two seasons at BSU, Matt will bring his defensive line experience to UMM. While in high school Matt was a two-time All-Conference player, two-time All-Area selection and team captain.
9. Derrick Foss - Hancock High School, Hancock, (6'3", 185 lbs): Derrick joins the Cougars at the quarterback position, hailing from Hancock where Derrick was All-Conference this past season, as well as Academic All-State.
10. Daniel Garrigan - Lawton Chiles High School, Tallahassee, FL (5'11", 185 lbs): Danny is a quarterback. During his senior year Danny was voted team captain, and threw for 987 yards and six TDs, while also rushing for 203 yards.
11. Josh Hiltner - Fergus Falls Community College, Fergus Falls, Albany High School, Albany, (5'6", 160 lbs): Josh spent the past two seasons at Fergus Falls CC. He will be a valuable contributor at running back or slot receiver. In high school he was named team iron man and captain. While at FFCC he was also named captain, and received the Barend Memorial Award.
12. Jerrod Nohner - University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Eden Valley-Watkins High School, Eden Valley, (5'8", 170 lbs): Jerrod can play both receiver and running back. During his high school career he set multiple school records including rushing for 3,561 yards and 35 rushing touchdowns. In total he racked up over 5,000 all-purpose yards. His honors include team MVP, two-time All-Conference, 1st Team St. Cloud All-Area, and Honorable Mention All-State.
13. John Russow - Vermillion Community College, Vermillion, West Lutheran High School, Plymouth, (5'8", 172 lbs): David plays multiple positions on offense, and will focus on slot receiver for the Cougars. While at Vermillion CC he earned All-North Division 2nd Team honors.
14. Colter Combellick - Clinton Graceville Beardsley High School, Chokio (6'1", 195 lbs): While in high school Colter played free safety and tight end. This season he will make the adjustment to linebacker.
15. Andrew Manuel - Maple Lake High School, Maple Lake, (5'11", 170 lbs): Andrew will join the linebacking corps on defense.
16. Josh Ledin - Central Lakes Community College, Big Lake High School, Big Lake (6'0", 220 lbs): Josh will be a key addition to the Cougars this season. At CLCC, he played defensive end as well as linebacker, Josh will provide the defense with some flexibility. While at CLCC, Josh earned 2nd team All-Division last season, recording 25 solo tackles and 8.5 sacks.
17. Jeremiah Montgomery - Morgan Park High School, Chicago, IL (5'5", 165 lbs): Jeremy will bolster the defensive secondary for the Cougars this season, playing cornerback. During his senior year in high school, Jeremiah recorded 15 tackles and two interceptions, earning All-Conference honors. Jeremiah also earned All-Conference in basketball.
18. Nathan Dahlman - Hancock High School, Hancock (6'2", 185 lbs): The second Owl to join UMM this season, Nathan will compete for time at defensive back. In a great senior season, he recorded three interceptions and earned All-Conference honors for the second consecutive year. He also earned Academic All-State honors this past year.
19. Shannon Cleare - St. Louis Park High School, St. Louis Park (5'8", 160 lbs): Shannon will be playing defensive back for the Cougars this season. Shannon has faced stiff competition during his high school years in the North Suburban Conference of Minneapolis.
20. Cody Copeland - Richfield High School, Richfield, (6'0", 175 lbs): If the Copeland name sounds familiar it should... Cody will follow his two older brothers - Trevor and Nathan - as a Cougar this season. Cody will join the defensive secondary at safety or cornerback. During his senior season, Cody recorded 68 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
21. James Widder - PCAE High School, and South High School, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (6'0", 182 lbs): James will be playing defensive back for the Cougars in the upcoming season. After spending the past two years away from football at UMTC, James is excited about getting back on the field.
22. Andrew Burroughs - Roosevelt High School, Sioux Falls, SD (5'9", 160 lbs): Hailing from a very successful high school program in South Dakota, Andrew will join the Cougars as a wide receiver this season. While in high school Andrew was part of back-to-back State Championship teams.
23. Erik Lasserud - Richfield High School, Richfield (6'0", 195 lbs): Erik will compete for punting responsibilities this season. Erik focused on special teams during his playing career. He had a 38-yard punt average last season, and will look to even better that mark with the Cougars.
24. Chad Hayes - John F Kennedy Senior High School, Bloomington, Normandale Community College
25. Todd Hickman - Concordia Moorhead, Moorhead, Maple Lake High School
26. Nate Holleman - Southwest State University, Marshall, Hancock High School, Hancock,
27. Jordan Berg - Lincoln High School, Sioux Falls, SD
28. Zach Miller - Martin Luther King High School, Riverside, CA