With today marking national football signing day, head coach Vance Winter and his Concordia football staff have secured 20 recruits for the class of 2013. These student-athletes range from local talent like Seward High School linebacker Trey Barnes to Ronald Jackson, a physical lineman from Houston, Texas.
“I think this is a great initial group of signees,” Winter said. “We’ve made our team better at a lot of key positions. I’m really excited about Trey Barnes and rest of our linebacker group. Overall it’s a class that also fills needs on the defensive and offensive lines. We still have some more to do. We’re still looking for more guys that are the right fits, but we’re very pleased with where we’re at and the types of guys we’re bringing in.”
While some of the team’s top targets are still waiting to make final decisions, defensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator Patrick Daberkow likes the way the 2013 crop is shaping up.
Barnes, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound standout from Seward, enjoyed a huge senior season and was made a high priority for the Bulldog coaching staff. With Barnes coming from their own backyard, Winter and company know exactly what they are getting.
“Trey Barnes is going to be a great talent here at linebacker for us,” Daberkow said. “I think he has great size potential. He’s got a pretty good frame on him right now. We’ll probably try to add 15 or 20 pounds to him. With the way he scrapes at linebacker, plays downhill and beats blocks – that’s something we’re really looking forward to seeing here.”
Jackson, who attends the same high school as former Concordia all-GPAC linebacker Jerrod Fleming, projects well at both offensive and defensive line at the college level. At 5-foot-10, 260 pounds, he has the size and strength to be an early contributor. Winter describes him as an explosive athlete who is a great fit for the university.
The class includes plenty of other intriguing prospects with 12 of the 20 currently on board hailing from the state of Nebraska. Of the other eight, four are from Texas, two are native Californians and one each come from Arkansas and Missouri.
With facility renovations that give Concordia some of the best in the NAIA, the Bulldogs have a lot to offer. Winter, Daberkow, White and special teams coordinator Corby Osten have been ecstatic to show off the sparkling new locker rooms, weight room and of course Bulldog Stadium, one of the GPAC’s top stadium venues.
“The response has been great. We really feel like the facilities set us apart here,” Daberkow said. “For kids looking for top-notch facilities, that’s something we definitely can offer. We also feel like it’s not the facilities alone that make it great, it’s the people that make up the university that really make our (recruiting) visits special.”
The presence of a complete coaching staff has also made recruiting this collection of student-athletes much smoother. Last offseason Winter and company worked without an offensive coordinator before bringing White aboard in April. Since then Osten has also been promoted to full-time, providing another boon to recruiting in addition to the efforts of coaches James Landers and Trent Laune.
“It’s incredible how helpful it is to have a full football staff,” Daberkow said. “Last year it was just Coach Winter and I as the only full-time guys. Now we’re able to hit a lot more markets and scour the state of Nebraska a lot better.”
Even with a solid group of additions already set to join the Bulldogs this fall, Daberkow stresses that work still must be done to complete the class. National signing day does not mark an end to recruiting for 2013 at the NAIA level.
“It’s not complete at all. We’re still hot on the trail of a lot of guys,” Daberkow said. “We’ve got a lot of big visits these last few weekends. We’ll have some decisions being made over the next couple weeks whether we decide to offer certain scholarships. We think a lot of things will drop in the next week or so.”