Augustana University is native to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but it's nestled less than 20 miles from the Minnesota border. For football recruiting the North Star State has been a second home for the Vikings, and 2017 was no different. Coach Jerry Olszewski and…
Augustana University is native to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but it's nestled less than 20 miles from the Minnesota border. For football recruiting the North Star State has been a second home for the Vikings, and 2017 was no different.
Coach Jerry Olszewski and his staff signed nine players from Minnesota and finished with the No. 3 ranked class in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference as rated by NFN. The nine recruits were the Vikings’ most from Minnesota since 2014.
“The [Minnesota] guys that we got identified our needs really well,” Olszewski said. “The potential of the group is great — really high ceiling.”
Augustana signed four preps in the NFN Top 100, including Cretin-Derham Hall wide receiver Denzel Fondungallah. Fondungallah was committed to a Football Championship Subdivision program – Northern Iowa – but reopened his recruiting on January 17.
Olszewski said he was hopeful he would sign Fondugallah after the Raiders receiver decommitted. It wasn’t until about 36 hours before National Signing Day, though, that the 6-foot-2 receiver chose the Vikings over UNI and MSU-Mankato.
“With future he sees for himself athletically and professionally, it’s a great fit for what he wants to do,” said Olszewski about Fondungallah, who was the highest ranked player to commit to a Division II school (No. 22).
Before earning Fondungallah’s commitment, the Vikings already had a solid group of Minnesota recruits. Among them were two talented defensive backs: Anoka’s Ryan Wesp and Dawson-Boyd’s Eli Weber.
Both players were captains for their respective squads last season. Weber (NFN No. 88) was a two-way starter for the Blackjacks since his sophomore year, helping them to a Class A runner-up finish in 2014. Wesp (NFN No. 93) was twice named All-West Metro District as a cornerback, recording five career interceptions for the Tornadoes.
Olszewski said he personally got to work with both players at Augustana’s camp last summer and came away impressed.
“Ryan fits our system really well. He’s played quite a bit of quarters and cover 2,” Olszewski said. “Eli is a phenomenal athlete. He’s a kid whose been playing multiple sports, and he’ll get bigger with a college weight program.”
Augustana also received a National Letter of Intent from three Minnesota offensive linemen. Leading the group was Minnetonka’s Aaron Moore, who was the anchor of the Skippers' physical group the past two seasons and a two-time all-district honoree. Chanhassen’s Sam Roble and Caledonia’s Nick Loging were the other blockers taken by the Vikings.
Olszewski said he liked the intangibles each offensive lineman will bring to the program.
“I like leaders, captains, guys from teams who work hard and are well-coached.” Olszewski said. “We’re selective and I think that’s because we know the individuals and the programs they come from in Minnesota.”