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Signing Day 2024: Concordia Football Update

By Jacob Knabel on Feb. 7, 2024 in Football

Sprint. Lift. Recruit. Those are the three words Head Coach Patrick Daberkow uses to describe the heartbeat of a football program during the offseason months. Even before the Bulldogs wrapped up the 2023 season with a 45-21 win at Mount Marty, Daberkow and his staff were diligently working to craft the 2024 recruiting class. As of National Signing Day 2024 (Feb. 7), the Concordia University Football program has secured the pledges of just over 40 student athletes. In addition, three transfers enrolled this spring semester and joined the program.

Daberkow is more about hyping upperclassmen who have earned their stripes in navy and white while understanding that National Signing Day is a time to celebrate those who have made the decision to become Bulldogs. Like most programs, Concordia’s recruiting efforts begin in the immediate area before fanning out.

“You always have everything you need locally. I’m a firm believer in that,” Daberkow said. “We have relationships outside of Nebraska that have been really beneficial, and we’ve met kids from other states who prove to be really good fits. If you’re going to build something sustainable, you have to be within a day’s drive. Most of your roster should be drivable. We have really strong roots in Houston and we go back there every year. There are a lot of schools we have close relationships with, and the Lutheran school connection is huge for out-of-state recruitment. We always want to make sure we’re getting those guys.”

As Daberkow jokes, his thoughts from past years could easily be recycled and applied to the 2024 recruiting class. On the recruiting trail, it’s been “nothing too crazy,” as Daberkow puts it. The lack of drama isn’t necessarily a bad thing and fits the DNA of Concordia Football. Notably, the incoming class is heavy on Nebraska natives (28 as of National Signing Day) while also pulling in out-of-state talent through strategic connections.

In Daberkow’s eyes, it’s too early to say who the next Michael Grindeys, DJ McGarvies or Kyle Sterups might be. A top priority continues to be the emphasis on bringing in the right people.

“Every class is unique in its own regard,” Daberkow said. “It’s been fun having the three transfers come in at semester and to be able to work with them and get to know them. You get to talk to a lot of great families and meet a lot of great kids – and then you get feedback from our guys. Our guys usually eat lunch with them or join the tour. To hear what input they have is extremely valuable. They see things from a different perspective and can give us a good viewpoint on whether the guys we’re recruiting will be good teammates and fit what we’re about.”

As part of the recruiting process, Daberkow and his staff pride themselves on being open and honest about what life in college football will look like. Sometimes that means being realistic about playing time in year one. The Bulldogs know they will bring back a veteran offensive line headed by Second Team All-GPAC guard Tyler Walford. The conversations that take place with veteran players who have a ‘COVID year’ of eligibility remaining is part of recruiting. Another starting guard, Christian Schlepp, plans to play in 2024 in what will be his sixth year on the roster. So too does offensive lineman/long snapper Toby Hager, among others. Says Daberkow, “That’s a sign of the health of the program. We have guys who don’t want to leave. That means something.”

Then there are the transfers. Relationship-building on the part of Daberkow and his staff serves to limit the number of transfers going out. First and foremost, Concordia wants to build through high school recruitment and through the development of those student-athletes over four and five years. However, you don’t turn a blind eye to someone as talented as Austin Jablonski, a former Nebraska walk-on. Jablonski showed how a transfer can thrive in this environment as he broke the school record for receiving yards (1,134) in a single season.

Said Daberkow, “We’ve shown that we have a path towards a great college football experience here. There are bunch of different reasons why guys end up somewhere, whether it’s on scholarship or as a preferred walk-on. Getting to know kids and their families is always fun. When they say no, it’s hard not to let that get to you, but you have to respect that process. Sometimes that process brings them back down the road. We’re not a heavy transfer program, but we’ve proven to be transfer friendly. Our No. 1 focus is on the guys in the locker room putting the work in. We have a lot of great work getting put in. That’s what makes me excited.”

The coming 2024 season will be Daberkow’s eighth as head coach. He says the offseason plan is similar to recent years with a few changes being applied to the training program. As Daberkow pointed out, every college football program in the country wants to be faster and more explosive.

The remainder of the spring semester will continue to be about three key things. “It’s heavy on lifting, sprinting and recruiting,” Daberkow said. “That’s all we do – lift, sprint and recruit. It’s about embracing the weightroom. We are doing some things a little bit differently as far as player development goes. We’re focusing on being faster and more explosive, but we’re getting there in a different way.”

The arrival of National Signing Day does not mean that recruiting stops. The Bulldogs will continue to add to the 2024 class throughout this spring semester and perhaps into the summer. Roughly seven months from now, a senior version of DJ McGarvie will be back to slinging the football around Bulldog Stadium. Concordia plans to hold an open spring scrimmage in April (specific date TBA) as a cap to spring ball. The 2024 schedule is in the process of being finalized and publicized.

Concordia Football Recruiting Class of 2024

As of National Signing Day

First Name Last Name High School/College State
Isaiah Ascencio Greeley Central HS CO
George Burnham Concordia Omaha HS NE
Rommel Cannedy Booker T Washington HS OK
Thomas Davis Lincoln North Star HS NE
Judd Divelbiss Norman HS OK
Ace Edwards Wallace County HS KS
Jackson Fry Hesston HS KS
Ashton Gazga Lincoln Southwest HS NE
John Goodwin UNL/Lincoln High NE
Landon Hinrichs Hastings HS NE
Isaac Hochard Seaman HS KS
Landon Hock Edmond North HS OK
Kolby Houchin Bayard HS NE
Conor Jesus Bellevue West HS NE
Khyng Jordan Omaha Burke HS NE
Dusty Kapke Tri-County HS NE
Keaton Karr Silver Lake HS NE
Braxtyn Koch Winter Mills HS MD
Luke Kolsrud Chandler HS AZ
Josh Luehr Wood River HS NE
Hunter Lukes Fillmore Central HS NE
Kolby Mahler Freeman HS NE
Pablo Martinez Goddard HS KS
Thomas Meadough Oklahoma Baptist University/St Pius HS TX
Joey Myers Omaha Burke HS NE
Nick Oberle Omaha Westside HS NE
Ethan Olson Heartland Lutheran HS NE
Ryland Reetz Estes Park HS CO
Josh Ringler Seward HS NE
Lukas Rosario Goddard HS KS
Tristin Skelton Lincoln Southwest HS NE
Carter Skleba Wilber-Clatonia HS NE
Damian Stanley Aurora HS NE
Thomas Thomas Hastings St. Cecilia HS NE
Kaden Thompson Hershey HS NE
Keenan Troyer Milford HS NE
Noah VanEvery Malcolm HS NE
Brett Voss Lincoln Pius X HS NE
Ethan Walker Plattsmouth HS NE
Griffin Wallace Skyline HS KS
Quinton Walton University of Northern Colorado/Grand Junction HS CO
Asher Watson Norris HS NE
Nathanieal Werner Boone Central HS NE