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Eric Peterson, Published February 05 2014

Dragons football announces 27 signings

MOORHEAD – Minnesota State Moorhead allowed more than 42 points and nearly 500 yards per game last fall – statistics that made defense a focus for this football recruiting class.

“Defensively, we really felt like we needed to upgrade talent,” Dragons head coach Steve Laqua said. “The plan was to find guys who could play right away on defense. That was the goal at every position.”

MSUM announced 27 signings – including one preferred walk-on – on Wednesday’s national signing day, with 16 of those players projected to play defense.

Laqua said defensive line was the No. 1 priority in the class. MSUM signed six defensive linemen, and most of them will have a chance to compete for playing time next fall.

Jake Busse (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) from Waseca, Minn.; Jeff Cesario (6-0, 260) from New Lenox, Ill.; Drew Lingle (6-3, 220) from Bismarck; Spencer Meyer (6-6, 220) from Grand Forks; and Dustin Neseth (6-2, 250) from Zimmerman, Minn., are all D-line recruits with the potential to see the field as true freshmen.

“We are not very deep there and we didn’t play at that high a level there last year,” Laqua said of the defensive line. “We really felt like we got guys there that are going to compete to play right away.”

James Inman Jr. (6-2, 210) is a defensive lineman prospect from Bismarck, but will likely redshirt since he’s only 16 years old, Laqua said.

Linebackers Connor McCarthy (6-0, 212) from Minneapolis and Joe Rademacher (6-2, 205) from St. Croix Falls, Wis., could also earn playing time as true freshmen.

Carter Thiel (6-4, 200) from Wheaton, Minn., is projected to play safety and has the potential to earn playing time in his first season.

“He could play right away. He is very gifted athletically,” Laqua said of Thiel. “With his frame, he might become and outside linebacker.”

MSUM is more settled on offense after averaging nearly 32 points per game last season. The Dragons will likely redshirt most of their recruits projected to play offense.

However, wide receiver Brett Lawrence (6-5, 185) from Moorhead High could play right away with his blend of size and speed.

“We had talented wide receivers last year, but we didn’t have very many,” Laqua said.

Tyler Eidsness (5-10, 175) is another Moorhead High recruit who could see the field as a true freshman.

Laqua said Eidsness has a strong chance to play at long snapper and will also compete at safety.

Here is the complete Dragons list:

Hunter Braaten, WR, 5-10, 160, Westhope, N.D. (Westhope-Newburg HS)

Jake Busse, DL, 6-3, 245, Waseca, Minn. (Waseca HS)

Jeff Cesario, DL, 6-0, 260, New Lenox, Ill. (Providence Catholic HS)

Tyler Eidsness, DB, 5-10, 175, Moorhead, Minn. (Moorhead HS)

Andrew Erickson, OL, 6-6, 270, St. Croix Falls, Wis. (St. Croix Falls HS)

Kayne Griffith, RB, 5-9, 170, Colfax, N.D. (Richland County HS)

Zach Hilliard, LB, 6-2, 185, Erie, Colo. (Louisville HS)

James Inman, DL, 6-2, 210, Bismarck, N.D. (Shiloh Christian HS)

Brett Lawrence, WR, 6-5, 185, Moorhead, Minn. (Moorhead HS)

Tyler Lazarz, TE, 6-5, 230, Antioch, Ill. (Antioch Community HS)

Jon Lehman, DB, 5-11, 178, Brookings, S.D. (Brookings HS)

Drew Lingle, DE, 6-3, 220, Bismarck, N.D.(Bismarck Century HS)

Logan Long, OL, 6-5, 315, Moweaqua, Ill. (Central A&M HS)

Austin Maanum, DB, 5-10, 180, Johnson, Minn. (Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley HS)

Connor McCarthy, LB, 6-0, 212, Minneapolis, Minn. (Holy Angels HS)

Spencer Meyer, DL, 6-6, 220, Grand Forks, N.D. (Central HS)

Jake Miller, OL, 6-5, 287, Sheboygan, Wis. (Sheboygan South HS)

Dustin Neseth, DL, 6-2, 250, Zimmerman, Minn. (Zimmerman HS)

Joe Rademacher, LB, 6-2, 205, St. Croix Falls, Wis. (St. Croix Falls HS)

Jerry Raye, DB, 5-8, 152, Los Alamitos, Calif. (Los Alamitos HS)

Grant Reuer, DB, 6-1, 170, Baxter, Minn. (Brainerd HS)

Lance Ruebke, WR, 5-11, 170, Ada, Minn. (Ada-Borup HS)

Ryan Schock, LB, 6-0, 190, Moorhead, Minn. (Moorhead HS)

Michael Strand, WR, 5-11, 170, Barnesville, Minn. (Barnesville HS)

Carter Thiel, DB, 6-4, 200, Wheaton, Minn. (Wheaton-Herman-Norcross HS)

Wyatt Youngblom, OL, 6-8, 325, Sisseton, S.D. (Sisseton HS)

Preferred Walk-On

Chase Montplaisir, QB, Fargo, N.D. (Shanley HS)

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com