BROOKINGS, S.D. – South Dakota State University head football coach John Stiegelmeier announced Wednesday that 17 high school standouts, including a pair of Gatorade players of the year, signed a National Letter of Intent, indicating they plan to enroll in the fall and compete for the Jackrabbit football team.
“Again this year we have filled our program’s needs with student-athletes who will compete in the classroom and on the field in pursuit of a championship,” Stiegelmeier said. “They will also make our department, University and state proud with their service in and around the region. This group will work hard to be champions in every area.”
The 2013 recruiting class includes:
• Mikias Alipate (pronounced mick-EYE-iss all-ih-PAH-tay), 6-1, 205, linebacker, Richfield, Minn. (Academy of Holy Angels);
• Jesse Bobbit, 6-2, 215, linebacker, Palatine, Ill. (Palatine H.S.);
• Lennard Cowans (pronounced CO-ins), 6-3, 245, defensive end, Orange, Calif. (Villa Park H.S.);
• Dalton Douglas, 6-4, 200, quarterback, Redlands, Calif. (Citrus Valley H.S.);
• Nick Farina (pronounced fah-REE-nah), 6-0, 187, defensive back, Phoenix, Ariz. (Desert Vista H.S.);
• Charlie Harmon, 6-6, 250, offensive lineman, O’Fallon, Ill. (O’Fallon Township H.S.);
• Stacy Keely, 6-8, 205, tight end, Omaha, Neb. (Omaha Northwest H.S.);
• Joe Kupcikevicius (pronounced CUPS-ah-kev-itch-iss), 6-5, 265, offensive lineman, Oak Lawn, Ill. (Richards H.S.);
• Cole Langer, 6-2, 230, fullback/linebacker, Dell Rapids, S.D. (Dell Rapids H.S.);
• Mason Leiseth (pronounced LIE-seth), 6-2, 215, defensive end, Hayti, S.D. (Hamlin H.S.);
• Bryson McCabe, 6-0, 190, defensive back, Spirit Lake, Iowa (Spirit Lake H.S.);
• Jacob Ohnesorge (pronounced oh-nah-SOAR-gee), 6-3, 265, offensive lineman, Waunakee, Wis. (Waunakee H.S.);
• Connor Orgill, 6-4, 190, wide receiver, Parker, Colo. (Legend H.S.);
• Freeman Simmons, 5-9, 175, defensive back, Columbia, Mo. (Rock Bridge H.S.);
• Joseph Stephens, 6-4, 260, offensive lineman, Champlin, Minn. (Champlin Park H.S.);
• Bridgeport Tusler (pronounced TUSS-ler), 5-11, 195, running back, Osseo, Minn. (Osseo H.S.), and
• Jake Wieneke (pronounced WHY-nick-ee), 6-4, 204, wide receiver, Maple Grove, Minn. (Maple Grove H.S.).
Alipate served as a team captain two seasons and was averaging 13.5 tackles per game during his senior campaign at the Academy of Holy Angels in the Twin Cities Metro area before suffering a season-ending injury. An all-Missota Conference selection as a junior, he recorded 113 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in nine games, while also scoring seven touchdowns as a running back. He plans to pursue a degree in either business or engineering
Bobbit capped a stellar prep career by earning first-team all-state honors from both the Champaign News Gazette and Chicago Tribune during his senior season at Palatine High School. A four-time all-conference selection and three-time Chicagoland all-area honoree, Bobbit tallied 325 tackles and 17 interceptions for his career. An honor student, he plans to major in exercise science.
Cowans was a two-time all-conference selection who played on both sides of the ball for a Villa Park High School team that won its third consecutive conference title and posted a 12-win season during his senior season. Defensively, Cowans recorded 67 tackles with five sacks and eight tackles for loss. As a tight end, he caught 13 passes for 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He intends to major in business.
Douglas set numerous school records as a dual threat at quarterback for Citrus Valley High School, accounting for more than 2,700 yards of total offense and 31 touchdowns during his senior season. He threw for 1,870 yards and 18 touchdowns, while adding 870 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground, while earning first-team all-city and Mountain Valley League honors. The school’s career record holder for passing yards, completions and touchdowns, Douglas lettered four times and led his team to consecutive California Interscholastic Federation playoff appearances. He later was named most valuable player of the West Coast Bowl all-star game, throwing for 145 yards and two touchdowns in leading his team to a fourth-quarter victory. In addition, Douglas has lettered in basketball and baseball. He plans to major in nursing.
Farina was named to the all-section team three times and earned all-state honors his senior season at Desert Vista High School after tallying 79 tackles. A key player on the 2011 Division I state championship team, Farina’s career totals included eight interceptions, three forced fumbles, six total touchdowns and a school-record 119 solo tackles. A member of the National Honor Society, Farina plans to major in biology/pre-medicine.
Harmon earned all-conference honors as both a junior and senior while helping lead his O’Fallon Township High School team to back-to-back playoff appearances. He also has competed in basketball. An academic all-conference selection and a member of the National Honor Society, Harmon plans to major in nursing.
Keely has excelled in both football and track and field at Omaha Northwest High School. During his senior season, he caught 47 passes for 523 yards and eight touchdowns. The reigning Class A state champion in the high jump, he cleared 6 feet, 10 inches en route to the state title in 2012. Keely, who will be joined on the Jackrabbit squad by his twin brother, Eron, intends to major in biology.
Kupcikevicius served as team captain for Richards High School, earning all-conference and all-area honors at tackle during his senior season. He has yet to decide on his college major.
Langer earned South Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2012, rushing for 874 yards and 15 touchdowns while also recording 71 tackles in leading Dell Rapids High School to its third consecutive Class A state title. A three-time all-state selection and two-time member of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader Elite 45, Langer averaged 9.1 yards per carry during his career to finish with 2,447 rushing yards and 42 rushing touchdowns. He also recorded 280 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and three interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.
Langer will be a third-generation Jackrabbit student-athlete. His grandfather, Jim, was an all-conference football player and All-America baseball player at SDSU before embarking on a hall-of-fame football career with the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. His father, Tracy, also was an all-conference baseball player for the Jackrabbits. A member of the National Honor Society, he intends to pursue a major in engineering.
Leiseth excelled on both sides of the ball for Hamlin High School, earning all-state honors as a wide receiver in addition to being named Eastern Coteau Defensive MVP honors. He recorded 64 receptions for 1,402 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012, while adding 384 yards on the ground with six touchdowns. Defensively, Leiseth racked up 251 career tackles with 25 sacks and 13 forced fumbles. A three-sport standout, Leiseth also has earned all-conference honors in basketball and has competed at the state track and field meet. An academic all-state selection and member of the National Honor Society, Leiseth intends to major in agriculture engineering.
McCabe played a variety of roles on Spirit Lake’s Class 2A state championship team in 2012, seeing action as a defensive back, running back and kick returner. A first-team all-state selection at defensive back, he was credited with 75 tackles during his senior season and added five interceptions over his final two seasons. He also rushed for 497 yards and posted averages of 25.5 yards on kickoff returns and 21.8 yards per punt return. In addition, McCabe has lettered in track and field, competing at the Drake Relays and Iowa state meet. An honor roll student, he plans to pursue a degree in education.
Ohnesorge anchored the offensive line for the highly successful Waunakee High School football program, earning first-team all-state honors from both the Associated Press and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association during his junior and senior seasons, along with being named a finalist for the Joe Thomas Award as the state’s top offensive lineman in 2012. The 2012 Badger North Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year, he also was named to multiple all-conference, all-region and all-area squads. A three-year starter and team captain, Ohnesorge was part of a Waunakee program that compiled a 40-1 record from 2010-12, winning back-to-back Division 2 state titles his sophomore and junior seasons while reaching the title game this past fall. A member of the honor roll, he plans to major in engineering.
Orgill displayed big-play ability in earning all-conference honors in football three times at Legend High School. He finished his senior season with 15 receptions for 274 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 311 rushing yards – an average of more than 16 yards per carry -- and three touchdowns. Orgill has received all-league recognition in baseball and basketball, and has also competed in track and field. He plans to major in athletic training/pre-physical therapy.
Simmons earned all-district honors from the Associated Press during both his junior and senior seasons at Rock Bridge High School. He also was named a Class 6 all-district honoree by the Missouri Football Coaches Association in 2012. For his career, he totaled 2,069 career all-purpose yards with 15 touchdowns. Simmons has yet to decide on a college major.
Stephens received all-conference and lineman of the year accolades during his senior season at Champlin Park High School in the Twin Cities Metro area. He also served as a team captain for track and field team that won a section championship during his junior season and is a two-time all-conference honoree and state meet participant in track and field. Stephens has yet to declare a college major.
Tusler was the most decorated high school player in Minnesota during his senior season at Osseo High School, earning Gatorade Player of the Year, Associated Press Player of the Year, Mr. Football and Minneapolis Star Tribune Metro Offensive Player of the Year honors. He also was named KARE-11 TV Player of the Year, while receiving additional all-state recognition from the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minnesota Vikings. The Northwest Suburban Conference Player and Special Teams Player of the Year, Tusler ran for 1,173 yards and 16 touchdowns on only 104 carries (11.3 ypc) during his senior season. A two-time team captain, his other statistics included catching 18 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns, and averaging 25 yards per punt return. During his prep career, he totaled more than 3,000 all-purpose yards. Tusler also played defense, leading the Twin Cities Metro area with eight interceptions during senior season to up career total to 12. He plans to pursue a career in sports management
Wieneke was one of the top wide receivers in the state of Minnesota during his senior season at Maple Grove High School. He earned first-team all-state honors and was a Mr. Football finalist after recording 68 receptions for 1,330 yards and 13 touchdowns. He intends to pursue a degree in education.
In addition, Stiegelmeier announced that 14 other prep standouts have been accepted for admission at South Dakota State University and plan to join the team in the fall. The additions include:
• Austin Benson, wide receiver, Sioux Falls, S.D.;
• Riley Clark, linebacker, Colman, S.D.;
• Christian Custer, tight end/linebacker, Lake City, Minn.;
• Grant Gordon, linebacker, Eden Prairie, Minn.;
• Troy Hunhoff, tight end, Yankton, S.D.;
• Eron Keely, tight end, Omaha, Neb.;
• Tanner Lambert, fullback, North Sioux City, S.D.;
• Kane Louscher, linebacker, Mason City, Iowa;
• Braden Mengarelli, running back/defensive back, Prescott, Ariz.;
• Mitchell Nissen, wide receiver, Tea, S.D.;
• Matt Swallow, wide receiver, Aberdeen, S.D.;
• Joe Tjosvold, kicker, Lake Elmo, Minn.;
• Thayer Trenhaile, long snapper, Volga, S.D.;
• Case Wiarda, wide receiver, Castlewood, S.D.;
South Dakota State finished the 2012 season with a 9-4 overall record and made its second appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in four years. The Jackrabbits advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time and wrapped up the season ranked 14th in the final Sports Network media poll.