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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 06 2013

Bison sign 21 to 2013 football recruiting class

FARGO – The decision came at about 2 a.m. Wednesday and Pierre Gee-Tucker was up until 4 a.m. at his home in Belleville, Ill., thinking about it. He said he had a lot of things on his mind, namely switching his football verbal commitment from Northern Iowa to North Dakota State.

He got a few hours of sleep, but that didn’t do much to ease the stress.

“I couldn’t eat, my head was hurting,” he said. “Migraines from the stress level I guess.”

The stress started to ease just past 9 a.m. when he faxed his letter of intent to the NDSU football office. What started as scholar-ship offers to 12 different schools in December finally ended on national signing day.

NDSU signed 21 players and announced eight preferred walkons on Wednesday afternoon. One of the positions of emphasis, said head coach Craig Bohl, was linebacker.

That would make Gee-Tucker a possible prized commit.

“He’s an excellent young man, has outstanding character and great grades,” said his Belleville West head coach Cameron Pettus.

Other schools thought so as well. He narrowed the 12 scholarship offers to five for on-campus visits. Be-sides NDSU and UNI, it was Southern Illinois, Missouri State and Indiana State. He said Missouri State sent six coaches to his house for a visit.

NDSU sent three with Bohl, defensive coordinator Chris Klieman and linebackers coach Steve Stanard. Word of his commitment to UNI began to surface earlier this week, but the change of heart, he said, came when he began to look at the “stability within the program.”

“I felt like in the long run things would be better at North Dakota State,” Gee-Tucker said.

By Wednesday afternoon, he said he felt a big weight off his shoulders. “I can actually smile now,” he said. “I couldn’t smile before.”

Bohl said the recruitment of Gee-Tucker was competitive because his home area near St. Louis gets a lot of recruiting traffic from many schools. Plus, it’s an area NDSU has not typically recruited and there was a distance factor the Bison had to overcome.

“That’s hot Missouri Valley area,” he said. “He’s got a lot of ability but what you can’t do in the middle of this is because a guy has a whole bunch of other offers and maybe some guys have one, we learned a long time ago they’re all important in our recruiting class.”

Besides Gee-Tucker, the Bison signed linebackers Matt Plank from Gardner, Kan., Nick DeLuca from Omaha, James Gates from Menomonie, Wis., and Alex Hahn from Oak Creek, Wis. Plus, linebacker Mike Goergen from Adams, Minn., is a recruited walk-on.

It’s possible at least a couple will play right away, mainly because of a lack of depth this season and linebackers usually make for the best special teams players.

“It’s a critical area and we addressed that,” Bohl said.

Moorhead’s Chase Morlock, who was a standout linebacker for the Spuds, will begin his Bison career as a running back, where he also excelled.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Bohl said. “Whatever he does he achieves at a high level. He’s a winner in everything he does.”

The class includes three direct connections to NDSU. Goergen is a cousin of Bison associate athletic director Troy Goergen and walkon Keenan Hodenfield from Ray, N.D., is the son of former Bison assistant coach and player Shane Hodenfield.

Tight end Connor Wentz from Dunnellon, Fla., is the cousin to NDSU backup quarterback Carson Wentz. In addition, Bohl coached the father of quarterback recruit Cole Davis from Kearney, Mo., when Bohl was an assistant at the University of Nebraska.

“Cole sometimes dates me a little bit,” Bohl said. “Things are starting to cycle around me a little bit. It concerns me a bit about my age when I have players whose dads I coached.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia