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Eric Peterson, Published February 02 2011

Peterson: Laqua's recruiting efforts to be more focused at MSUM

Minnesota State Moorhead head football coach Steve Laqua used a gridiron analogy to describe compiling his first recruiting class with the Dragons.

“Sometimes you’ve got to make a two-minute drive at the end of the game to win it,” Laqua said.

While today’s national signing day is a finish line for a many programs, it’s a starting point for Laqua and the Dragons. He was named MSUM head coach just last Friday.

In the next month, Laqua hopes to add 20-25 players to his program as the NCAA Division II contact period re-opens today until early March.

“I certainly think we can put a good recruiting class together,” said Laqua, who was the head coach at Fargo Shanley the past four seasons.

Laqua will spend his signing day tracking what athletes are still available and haven’t signed at other schools. A former North Dakota State football player and assistant coach, Laqua plans to target multi-sport athletes to be the core of this recruiting class.

So he will look for athletes that are competing on the rink, the mat or hardwood, that are also good football players.

“What gives us the best chance of success is going after the multi-sport athlete,” Laqua said. “You find so many of them right now that are in hockey, wrestling and basketball, and they haven’t had the chance, because of their weekend games, to get to campuses and visit.”

Laqua wants to focus his recruiting efforts within a 150-mile radius of the Fargo-Moorhead and also the Twin Cities area.

“We’ve got to look under a lot of rocks here so we want to narrow that space down,” Laqua said.

The Dragons will unveil the signing of at least one player today, getting a verbal commitment from Shanley quarterback Myles Montplaisir (a two-year all-state player) over the weekend.

Montplaisir played for Laqua at Shanley, so there was a built-in familiarity. Developing that kind of relationship with the more unfamiliar recruits in a month will be a challenge.

“Usually the recruiting process, it’s a year-long process and we have to do it in a month,” Laqua said.

Laqua said the previous coaching staff did a good job of getting “a lot” of players on campus last fall to watch games, and some of those recruits still have interest in MSUM.

While the Dragons have missed out on the highly regarded recruits, Laqua feels there are still athletes available that in time can develop into solid players.

“We’ve missed out on most or a lot of your ‘slam-dunk’ decisions, guys who are going to be able to come in and play early,” Laqua said. “What we haven’t missed out on is the kid that is going to take one to two years to develop and then be a good football player.”

MSUM athletic director Doug Peters likes the plan Laqua has in place.

“We have talked about what his expectations are, we talked about being realistic and we talked about bringing in the right type of kids,” Peters said. “I would rather go with less (numbers) and have kids that want to be here.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com