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DWU football recruiting: Tigers target 'difference makers'

Dakota Wesleyan University's recruiting class might be smaller in numbers, but it's big up front.

After signing 34 players during last year's signing period, the DWU football coaching staff anticipates a smaller recruiting class during today's National Signing Day event. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Tigers had 19 commitments.

"We are probably going to be around 20-to-25, which is going to be a little bit smaller class for us in terms of signing day," said DWU coach Ross Cimpl, who added it would be his smallest class with the Tigers. "Part of that is by design, in the fact that we are trying to get some real difference makers here."

The Tiger coaching staff placed an emphasis on adding bodies along the offensive and defensive lines this recruiting cycle. Offensively, DWU graduated starters Damon Macleary, Ben Gannon and Levi Rozeboom.

"That's obviously a position you at least need to add depth at, if not trying to get kids that can come in and compete," Cimpl said. "I think that will always be the same. It probably impacts us a little bit more this year, just with three starters graduating."

DWU also invested in bringing in players to compete along the defensive front.

"D-line is another position we are focusing on," Cimpl said. "Maybe not in terms of numbers, but some real quality kids that we are trying to get there."

DWU also targeted the quarterback position after it graduated two-time Great Plains Athletic Conference offensive player of the year Dillon Turner. The Tigers landed a commitment from a player with similar stature and stats as Turner in Alex Pohlen. The 5-foot-11 Pohlen passed for 2,444 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior playing for Minneota, Minnesota. Pohlen finished his career second in program history in passing yards (7,230) and passing touchdowns (93) after leading his high school Vikings to three state football titles.

Pohlen joins a quarterback group that includes Shaye Slaughter and Zach Lester. The Tigers may add one more signal caller in this class or possibly via transfer.

"If we can get two guys and the two guys that we have here, I think that will be a pretty good mix of quarterbacks," Cimpl said.

The Tigers also received a commitment from Sioux Valley all-state fullback Daymein Lucas, who graduated as the Cossacks' all-time leading rusher and scorer. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Lucas rushed for 3,065 career yards and 38 touchdowns, including 2,094 and 27 as a senior.

Also offensively, the Tigers placed a premium on adding wide receivers. They graduated All-American wideout Hayden Adams and speedster Tre Hobbs.

Defensively, Cimpl said the staff went after inside linebackers and safety. All-conference linebacker Dillon Rork and safety starter Trey DeCroock will graduate after this season.

Most of the recruiting class is expected to be announced today, and the DWU football program will hold a National Signing Day party at 5:30 p.m. today at Blarney's Sports Bar in Mitchell.

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