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Tigers ink 22 players on signing day

Mitchell's Tate Larson (88) is tackled by Harrisburg's Peyton Voss (26) and Jack Rabern (7) after a reception during the Class 11AA semifinal game last season at Joe Quintal Field. Larson signed with the Dakota Wesleyan football team on Wednesday. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The Dakota Wesleyan University football team graduated offensive playmakers and supplemented it by inking more on national signing day.

The Tigers signed 22 players to national letter of intents on Wednesday, including five wide receivers and a quarterback with championship pedigree.

DWU graduated All-American wide receiver Hayden Adams and his school-record 3,243 receiving yards. The Tigers also lost wideouts Lewis Hofer, Tre Hobbs and Brandon Boggs to graduation.

After losing the production, the Tiger coaching staff prioritized the wide receiver position this recruiting cycle. They signed Tate Larson (Mitchell), Brendan Sokolowski (Wakonda), Chance Sorensen (Box Elder), Shayden Neptune (Atkinson, Nebraska) and Joao Godoy (Waco, Nebraska) on Wednesday.

"Those guys are going to be expected to come in and compete right away and they can do it," DWU coach Ross Cimpl said.

The Tigers also graduated two quarterbacks, including record-setting signal caller Dillon Turner. They signed Minneota, Minnesota's quarterback Alex Pohlen to the class. Cimpl said the Tigers could still add another high school player or a transfer to the position.

The 5-foot-11 Pohlen led the Vikings to a 50-1 record and three Class 1A state championships. He finished his career second in program history in passing yards (7,230) and passing touchdowns (93). Pohlen joins a quarterback mix that includes junior Shaye Slaughter and sophomore Zach Lester.

"You can't argue with 50-1 in terms of a record and three state championships and one loss being in the state semifinals," Cimpl said about Pohlen. "He's a smart kid. I think he can come in and take meaningful snaps in fall camp that we can actually evaluate him and see where he's at."

Pohlen's teammate, T.J. Esping, also signed with the Tigers. Esping is a 6-foot-3, 250-pound nose tackle and was also a state championship wrestler.

"Those kids know how to win and they are competitors," Cimpl added about the pair from Minneota.

The Tigers signed four total linemen—two offensive and two defensive—in the class. They expect to add more offensive linemen in the coming weeks, said Cimpl.

DWU stayed close to its recruiting footprint and signed nine players from South Dakota, six from Nebraska and three from Minnesota.

"That to me is something we are really proud of," Cimpl said. "That's what our team is and that's where we are based."

The Tigers tapped into a new pipeline this season by signing four players from Washington, which is where new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Loren Endsley hails from.

Defensively, DWU added three linebackers and four defensive backs. Sioux Valley all-state fullback Daymein Lucas signed with the Tigers and will move to linebacker after rushing for 3,065 career yards and 38 career touchdowns.

Cimpl told 5-foot-10, 190-pound Lucas he could have a bigger impact defensively for the Tigers.

"It's not something he's done," Cimpl said. "But he is super athletic and he's got a big frame."

Offensively, the Tigers also signed two tight ends and three running backs.

Cimpl said the Tigers will continue to add to their class and could even receive more commitments this weekend.

"Our class will be a little smaller on signing day," Cimpl said. "We will add I would say anywhere from 10-15 probably even after today."