North Dakota State University head football coach CRAIG BOHL announced the signing of 17 high school athletes to National Letters of Intent to play football and continue their education at NDSU. That announcement came today on the first day student-athletes are allowed to sign Letters of Intent.
The list includes student-athletes from seven different states including North Dakota (3), South Dakota (1), Minnesota (4), Nebraska (3), Arizona (3), Illinois (1), and Kansas (2).
There are nine defensive players and eight offensive players.
North Dakota State won the program's first NCAA Division I Football Championship with a 17-6 win over Sam Houston State on Jan. 7 and also claimed the program's first Missouri Valley Football Conference title. The Bison were 14-1 overall and 7-1 in MVFC.
Here are the bios of the new letter of intent signees:
NORTH DAKOTA (3)
LANDON LECHLER, OL, 6-7, 250, Beach, N.D. (Beach H.S.)--Two-time first team all-region offensive tackle for Beach High School and head coach Mike Zier ... Two-time all-West River Conference pick ... Graded out to 98 percent on offensive line and 95 percent at tight end ... Recorded 47 tackles, eight pass deflections, three fumble recoveries and a pair of forced fumbles on defense ... Three-sport athlete who reached 1,000 points in basketball and competes in the shot put and discus in track and field ... Earned Class B all-state, all-region and all-district honors in basketball ... Born August 11, 1993 ... Son of Paul Lechler and Barbara Lechler ... Has one sister, Lateasha.
JACK PLANKERS, OL, 6-7, 290, Leonard, N.D. (Kindred H.S.)--First-team all state offensive lineman for Kindred High School, and head coach and former Bison player Cody Kittelson ... Helped Kindred reach the state semi-final playoff game ... Earned all-region and all-conference honors ... Four-year starter who will play in the Badlands Bowl and Shrine All-Star game ... Averaging 12.4 points and 12.5 rebounds on the basketball court and led Kindred to regional championship game ... Competes in track and field and holds the school shot put and javelin records ... Plays first base and DH on American Legion baseball team ... Born Oct. 27, 1993 ... Son of Roy and Lori Plankers ... Has two brothers, Charlie and Brad ... Father played football on Concordia College's 1978 national championship team.
MJ STUMPF, OLB, 6-2, 200, Harvey, N.D. (Harvey H.S.)--First team all-state quarterback for Harvey-Wells County High School and head coach Brad Sandy ... Named to all-region and Minot Daily News all-area team ... Selected to play in the Badlands Bowl and Shrine All-Star game ... Completed 59 of 87 passes for 1,163 yards, 11 TDs and two interceptions ... Rushed 76 times for 488 yards and 10 TDs ... Rushed for eight 2-point conversions and passed for three others ... Defensively, recorded 47 tackles including 35 solos, seven pass breakups, three interceptions and a pair of fumble recoveries ... Led Harvey-Wells County to 8-1 record and region championship in 2011 ... Team compiled 22-6 record from 2009-11 ... Member of 2010 state champion 4x400 meter relay ... Played on Region 3 runner-up basketball team ... Born Oct. 15, 1993 ... Son of Michael Stumpf and Bonnie Bentz ... Has two brothers Michael (deceased) and Mark, and three sisters, Amy, Ann and Amanda ... Father played football NDSU, NDSCS and Minnesota State Moorhead ... Sister, Amy, played volleyball at Bismarck State
SOUTH DAKOTA (1)
ANDREW SMITH, FS, 6-0, 187, Sioux Falls, S.D. (Roosevelt H.S.)--First-team all state safety for Roosevelt High School and head coach Kim Nelson ... Led the Rough Riders to an 11-1 record and Class AA state championship in 2011 ... Roosevelt had a 9-2 record in 2010 ... Earned all-conference and all-city honors as a senior ... Two-time honorable mention on Elite 45 team ... Had 2,346 all-purpose yards and 29 TDs over final two seasons ... Added six blocked punts, four interceptions and three forced fumbles ... Two-year letterwinner in basketball ... Earned one letter in baseball and was member of 2011 state championship team ... Born Oct. 13, 1993 ... Son of Roger and Wanita smith ... Has one brother, Mitchell ... Father wrestled for Huron (S.D.) College in 1978-79.
ZACK JOHNSON, OL, 6-5, 315, Apple Valley, Minn., (Eastview H.S.)--Associated Press and Minnesota Coaches Association All-State second team offensive lineman for Eastview High School and head coach Kelly Sherwin ... Two-time all-conference and all-metro selection ... Invited to play in Minnesota Coaches Association All-Star game ... Honorable mention all-conference performer in track and field for Eastview ... Born Nov. 14, 1993 ... Son of Ronald and Amy Johnson ... Has one brother, Riley, and one sister, Sophia.
BRETT PIERCE, DT, 6-4, 260, Bloomington, Minn. (Academy of Holy Angels)--All-metro and all-conference player for Academy of Holy Angels and head coach Ray Betton ... Three-year starter who played tight end, offensive tackle and defensive end ... Two-way player as junior and senior ... Part of Holy Angels defense that allowed a school record low of 77 points ... Holds the school record for squat at 500-pounds ... Goalie on Holy Angels hockey team ... Compiled an 18-7 record and had a 91.5 save percentage as junior ... Only second goalie to make varsity club as a freshman ... Born April 27, 1994 ...Son of James and Leslie Pierce ... Has one brother, Jake ... Grandfather, Clifton Jacobson, played basketball and baseball at Moorhead State (Class of 1950) despite losing leg at age five ... Had aunt who played tennis at Minnesota-Duluth in 1976, and cousins, who ran track at Iowa and played baseball at South Dakota State.
ZACH RIOPELLE, OLB, 6-2, 205, Warren, Minn. (Warren-Alvarado-Oslo H.S.)--Two-time honorable mention all-state player for Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School and head coach Tony Gullickson ... Named the 2011 North Star Conference Offensive Back of the Year after rushing 237 times for 1,453 yards and 19 TDs ... Recorded 82 tackles including 46 solos, three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery at linebacker ... Set school career records for rushing yards (4,502), points (368) and TDs (59) ... Had school record 92 yard run in 2009 ... Two-time all-conference and all-section pick ... Rushed for over 1,000 yards three straight seasons for the Ponies from 2009 to 2011 ... Finished career with 222 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries ... Born March 13, 1993 ... Son of Michael and Janelle Riopelle ... Has one brother, Christopher (deceased) and one sister, Lacey ... Brother played football at Bemidji State (2003-06).
CAREY WOODS, WR, 6-0, 180, Bemidji, Minn. (Bemidji H.S.)--All-state performer for Bemidji High School and head coach Troy Hendricks ... Caught 73 passes for 1,300 yards and 19 TDs as a senior in leading the Lumberjacks to the state championship game ... Added over 500 rushing yards and five TDs ... Set school record for most receiving yards in the regular season ... Three-year starter in basketball, averaging 20 points and 6 rebounds per game during his career ... Born Nov. 4, 1993 ... Son of Carey and Penny Woods ... Has two sisters, Chaka and Cheyenne, and one brother, Czar ... Father and uncle, Danny Woods, played football at Bemidji State and uncle, LeRoy McFadden played football at Michigan State.
SAM HAHN, OL, 6-6, 265, DeWitt, Neb. (Tri-County H.S.)--First-team all state offensive lineman for Tri-County High School and head coach John McGary ... Invited to participate in the 2012 Shrine Bowl ... Four-year starter that made four trips to playoffs including 2010 district championship ... Played on offensive and defensive line, and was long snapper ... Three-sport athlete that reached 1,000 points in basketball and has earned four state track and field medals in prep career ... Earned all-state honors in basketball in 2010-11 ... Two-time all-conference pick ... Tri-County has won three straight district track and field titles, and was the 2011 state runner-up ... Academic all-state selection in football, basketball and track ... Born June 7, 1993 ... Son of James and Robin Hahn ... Has one brother, Gracin, and two sisters, Sara and Abby ... Sisters, Sara, competed in track and field at Nebraska-Kearney and Abby in golf at Doane College.
BO LIEKHUS, FS, 6-0, 205, Plattsmouth, Neb. (Bellevue West H.S.)--First-team all-state defensive back for Bellevue West High School and head coach John Faiman ... Team advanced to the playoffs all four seasons ... Recorded 105 tackles including 86 solos during senior year, while also rushing for 500 yards ... 2011 Metro area Defensive Back of the Year ... Two-time all-district ... Three-year starter ... Four-time academic all-state ... Competed in track and field, placing third in 4x400 meter relay, fourth in 4x100 relay and fifth in 200 meters ... Top time in 200 was 22.10 ... Four-year letterwinner in track and field ... Born April 9, 1994 ... Son of Bryan and Laura Liekhus ... Has two brothers, Chase and Tanner ... Father, Bryan, played football for Nebraska in 1987-88
DEREK McGINNIS, QB, 6-3, 200, Crete, Neb. (Crete H.S.)--Two-time first team all-state quarterback for Crete High School and head coach Chuck McGinnis ... Led the Cardinals to the 2010 Class B state championship and 2011 Class B runner-up ... Put together a 31-6 record as a starter including a 25-game winning streak and three district titles ... Named to Super State second team as a senior after completing 108 of 188 passes for a school record 2,056 yards and 22 TDs, while also rushing for 560 and four TDs ... Set school career records with 4,247 passing yards and 46 TDs ... Honorable mention all-state and all-conference guard on the basketball court ... Four-year letterwinner in baseball for Crete ... Born December 16, 1993 ... Son of Chuck and Kim McGinnis ... Has two brothers, Nathan and Alex, and one sister, Nicole ... Father played football at Wayne State (Neb.).
CHUKS AMAECHI, DE, 6-2, 215, Avondale, Ariz. (Westview H.S.)--First-team all-state performer for Westview High School and head coach Jeff Bowen ... Two-time Region Player of the Year for the Knights ... Westview won section championship with 8-3 record as a senior, played on state semifinalist team with 10-3 record as a junior ... Played running back, outside linebacker and defensive end ... Named to Arizona Football Coaches Association Super 25 ... First-team all-section and all-region selection ... Tied school's single-season record with 15 sacks, also tied single-game record with four sacks ... Finished career with 147 tackles including 25 sacks and 20 QB hurries ... Recorded 10 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries including one returned for TD ... Had one interception returned for a score ... Also plays first base and left field on baseball diamond, hitting .350 ... Born June 19, 1994 ... Son of Eddie and Nealie Amaechi ... Has one brother, Tony, and one sister, Terra ... Related to New York Giants defensive back Prince Amukamara and current NDSU cornerback Jordan Champion.
MARCUS BRANTLEY, S, 5-10, 180, Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain H.S.)--All Arizona and all-state safety for Red Mountain High School and head coach Ron Wisniewski ... Led Red Mountain to an 8-2 record including seven-game winning streak and quarterfinals appearance ... Region's Two-Way Player of the Year ... One of six finalists for Player of the Year ... First-team all-region at safety, running back and special teams ... As a senior, made 66 tackles, had five interceptions including two for TDs and forced four fumbles ... Rushed for 1,014 yards and added 324 receiving yards ... Scored 16 TDs overall four on returns ... During junior year at Gilbert High School had 116 tackles and five interceptions including two for TDs ... Born April 27, 1994 ... Has one brother, Jesse, who will play football for Northern Arizona.
AUSTIN FARNLOF, DT, 6-2, 270, Cave Creek, Ariz. (Boulder Creek H.S.)--All-state offensive and defensive lineman for Boulder Creek High School and head coach Dan Friedman ... Three-year starter ... Had 118 tackles including seven sacks and six tackles for loss ... Selected the 2011 Division I Section 3 North Lineman of the Year ... Earned all-state honors from the Arizona Football Coaches Association, the Arizona Republic, Scout.com, Rivals.com and 24-7 Football as a senior ... Boulder Creek advanced to the playoffs in 2009-10-11 ... Played baseball and competed in track and field ... Born Feb. 23, 1994 ... Son of Tom and Jan Farnlof ... Has one sister, Ashley.
DEMITRIUS GRAY, WR, 6-3, 200, Aurora, Ill. (Waubonsie Valley H.S.)--First-team all-state performer for Waubonsie Valley High School and head coach Paul Murphy ... Two-year starter who played wide receiver, and returned kickoffs and punts ... Earned all-area first team honors ... Had 19 catches for 400 yards and six TDs as a senior ... Made 26 receptions for 884 yards and eight TDs during junior year ... Born Sept. 14, 1993 ... Son of Tracey Sturdivant.
JACOB DAVIS, ILB, 6-2, 230, Wichita, Kan. (Northwest H.S.)--All-Class 6A and all-state player for Northwest High School and head coach Weston Schartz ... Earned Rivals.com all-state, all-metro and all-city honors as a senior ... Played in the Max Emfinger All-American Bowl Game in Baton Rogue, La., on Jan. 7 ... Invited to play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl on July 28 ... Participated in the U.S. Army All-American Combine ... Attended the FBU Football Camp in spring 2011 and trained under NFL linebacker Kurt Gouveia ... Invited to FBU Top Gun in Williamsburg, Va., in summer 2011 ... Holds bench press 6A state record 242 lb. weight class ... Born Feb. 12, 1994 ... Son of Elaine Cannefax and James Davis Jr. ... Has five brothers, James, Jonathan, Joshua, Amani and Amiri ... Mother played volleyball and softball at Wichita State.
DeSEAN WARREN, WR, 5-11, 165, Overland Park, Kan. (Blue Valley West H.S.)--Kansas Large School All-State wide receiver for Blue Valley West High School and head coach Scott Wright ... Two-time Eastern Kansas League receiver ... Mid-State Sports receiving and kick return All-Star ... Selected to All-SUN football team ... Made 38 receptions for 767 yards (20.18 avg/r) and seven TDs as a senior, and added a school record 568 kick return yards (33.41 avg/r) and three TDs ... Finished career with 68 receptions for 1,210 yards (17.79 avg/r) and 11 TDs ... Received U.S. Army National Combine invitation ... Ranked in top 13 percent at Dallas Nike Combine ... Named to all-Oakland Nike Combine team ... Stanford Nike Football Training Camp ... Point guard on Kansas 6A Sub-State basketball champions ... Earned all-SUN and all-league basketball honors ... Played AAU basketball for the Spiece MO KAN Elite ... Three-time Kansas Scholar Athlete, Eastern Kansas League Scholar Athlete and Mid-State Sports All-Academic team member ... Born Sept. 29, 1993 ... Son of Daryl and Denise Warren ... Has one brother, Dustin.
The following student-athlete has been admitted to North Dakota State and is a recruited walk-on to the program:
JUSTIN ARP, TE, 6-4, 220, Cosgrove, N.D. (Sargent Central H.S.)--First-team all-state performer for Sargent Central High School and head coach Chris Larson ... Four-year starter ... Played tight end, defensive end, kicker and punter ... All-region center in basketball for Cadets ... Five-year letterwinner in track and field competing in the sprints and throws ... Son of John and Doreen ... Has one brother, Devin, and two sisters, Jaci and Dona.