Eric Peterson, Published August 14 2012
VIDEO: Talk-show host Ed Schultz pledges $100,000 in scholarship funds to MSUM football
A notable name from Minnesota State Moorhead football past showed his support for the program’s present and future Tuesday.
National talk show host Ed Schultz – a former Dragons quarterback – pledged $100,000 for football scholarships, an announcement that came at the start of the annual Dragons media day.
“I’ll never forget what Moorhead State did for me and I’m honored to be in a position to help out,” said Schultz, who is the host of the “Ed Show” on MSNBC. “I see a new direction, a new attitude. I’m excited about their opportunity to be a lot better.”
Schultz – who played for Dragons coaching legend Ross Fortier – has pledged $25,000 per year over the next four years to fund scholarships for football.
Schultz was quarterback for the Dragons in 1976 and 1977.
He was the Division II national passing champion in 1977 and the conference most valuable player.
“It’s one of those milestone days,” said MSUM second-year head coach Steve Laqua, who is trying to rebuild a program that has posted 2-9 records in each of the previous four seasons. “Ed is looking forward to where we’re going and likes the vision. We are excited by that.”
Laqua said the Dragons recruited on what he would consider a “full recruiting scholarship budget” for the incoming class of 45 true freshmen. Laqua added the program is on pace to do the same for next year’s recruiting class, too.
“I think we have to give back to create opportunities for other students,” Schultz said. “Give them a chance to succeed just like somebody gave me a chance to succeed. That’s really how I view it.”
The Dragons received $2 million from Sanford Health last spring to be used for scholarships for all of the school’s athletic programs. MSUM offered around 9½ football scholarships last fall.
Athletic director Doug Peters said the football program is offering nearly 13 scholarships this fall. That doesn’t count the Schultz gift, which will be applied to future classes.
The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference scholarships limit for football is 27 this fall and will increase to 28 next the following season.
Schultz said he also likes the vision MSUM President Edna Szymanski has for athletics and the university. Schultz also donated equipment to the school for communications students.
“I think there is no doubt she is committed to making sure the Dragons are going to be competitive in their division,” Schultz said. “I think that’s something that the former players have been waiting for, for a long time. I’m really glad that I can be a part of it.”
The Dragons have a young roster that has a combined 58 freshmen and true freshmen. Laqua said there could be as many as 20 true freshmen on the team’s two-deep depth chart. Coincidentally, the spot that Schultz played, quarterback, is as green as any position on the roster.
Redshirt freshmen Myles Montplaisir and Ryan Toelle hold down the top two QB spots early in fall camp. True freshmen Justin Geiter and Jake Hodge could also make a push for playing time.
“For me, it’s exciting because that means the future is going to be bright here,” said Montplaisir, who played in high school at Fargo Shanley. “That’s what we’re really going for. This isn’t a one-year fix for this program. We are building it up so we can play at a high level. … There are going to be growing pains this year.”
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jalen Ham is another young local player expected to play a big role this fall, even though he hasn’t played a snap at the college level. Ham, from Casselton, N.D., missed all of fall camp last season with a shoulder injury.
“We’re just trying to be the best we can be,” Ham said. “That’s all we can do really is go out there and work hard.”
Outside linebacker Tyler Brody, a fifth-year senior, is among the players on the roster to help lead the younger players.
“I like the challenge,” Brody said. “I want to be a coach after I’m all done with this. This is a really good step for me to try to mentor.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com