SEWARD, Neb. – Head coach Patrick Daberkow and the Concordia University football staff stepped out into the backyard to land local talent at places like Centennial and Seward High Schools while also crisscrossing the nation in the process of putting together the 2019 recruiting class. As of National Signing Day (Feb. 6), the Bulldogs have secured pledges from 35 current high school seniors and one transfer. Nine of the future Bulldogs hail from the state of Nebraska.
The class is not yet complete, but much of the “hay is in the barn,” as Daberkow put it. The coaching staff has emphasized upgrading the program’s overall physicality in terms of height and size.
“It’s important to acknowledge that we don’t know exactly how good this class is going to be until a couple years down the road,” Daberkow said. “The rubber meets the road during training sessions, in the weight room and on the practice field. What we tried to do with this class was bring in guys who love to compete, are tough, are going to be good teammates and love to win. We think we’ve found that in this class. We’ll really find out over the next couple of years.”
Daberkow and company have also pulled eight recruits out of Texas, five from Kansas, three apiece from Colorado and Missouri and one each from the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and New Mexico. The list of Nebraska natives includes local standouts such as York’s AJ Beins and Wyatt Cast, Seward’s Carson Core and Centennial’s Wyatt Ehlers.
Core and Ehlers put up impressive numbers as high school seniors. Core caught 42 passes for 436 yards and seven touchdowns for a Bluejay team that reached the quarterfinals in Class B. As the signal caller for the Class C-2 state championship team, Ehlers threw for 2,440 yards and 33 touchdowns and ran for 931 yards and eight touchdowns.
“As good of athletes as they are, they’re equally good young men,” Daberkow said of the local talent. “They’re going to represent our program and university in the best way possible. Wyatt is an extremely good leader. So is Carson. They both have had a lot of success in high school in multiple sports. They come from great families. We have a lot of great local kids coming in. We’re really pleased with the amount of local guys we’ve been able to recruit here the last couple years.”
While Core and Ehlers have the potential to impact the skill position groups, the Bulldogs also want to improve at the line of scrimmage. One name to watch for up front is Conrad Christ, a native of Boonton, N.J. Christ is listed at 6-foot-3, 265 pounds.
Daberkow has emphasized that it will take work in the weight room in order for the program to make strides offensively. Says Daberkow, “We have some good size coming in with this offensive line class. Throughout the list of commits we have guys who are a little taller than what we have had in the past. Height is only a small part of it though. We’re getting bigger in the weight room with our current roster. I’m equally as excited about that.”
Daberkow and his staff have tweaked things here and there as far as how they go about the recruiting process. Large on-campus visit days are a big part of the equation and interactions and connections made through social are dynamics that are here to stay. Recruiting also requires logging hours on the road, but Daberkow is making sure the time away is being managed so that the current players get the attention they need from coaches.
“Our staff highlighted our need to spend more time with our players,” Daberkow said. “We spent more time with our players after the season ended to push them in the weight room. We’ve put more time into that than being on the road recruiting. Getting to know kids earlier in the recruiting process is becoming more and more important so we’re trying to recruit heavier in the spring. That allows us to be there more with our guys after the season ends. The weight room is going to be the reason we take the next step as a program.”
Recruiting for the 2019 class – and beyond – will continue into the summer for Daberkow and his staff. The full-time staff includes defensive coordinator Corby Osten, pass game coordinator Reggie Corbin and special teams coach and recruiting coordinator Wes Coomes.
The Bulldogs will begin the spring practice season on Wednesday, March 13. They will wrap it up on April 12 when the public scrimmage will take place at 7 p.m. inside Bulldog Stadium.
Class of 2019 Recruits
Carsen Arline | Nederland, Texas | Nederland HS
Jaden Armbrust | Littleton, Colo. | Columbine HS
Jackson Armitage | Gretna, Neb. | Gretna HS
Robert Arnold | La Porte, Texas | La Porte HS
AJ Beins | York, Neb. | York HS
Wyatt Cast | York, Neb. | York HS
Conrad Christ | Boonton, N.J. | Mountain Lakes HS
Carson Core | Seward, Neb. | Seward HS
Erik Cumley | Elizabeth, Colo. | Lutheran HS
Zac Dowgiallo | Viera, Fla. | Viera HS
Wyatt Ehlers | Waco, Neb. | Centennial HS
Anthony Heard | Maryland Heights, Mo. | Lutheran HS
Daniel Hernandez | Topeka, Kan. | Hayden Catholic HS
Brent Hart | Topeka, Kan. | Seaman HS
AJ Jenkins | Wilcox, Neb. | Wilcox-Hildreth HS
Eric Kieper Jr. | Lacombe, La. | Lakeshore HS
Trace Leners | Salina, Kan. | Sacred Heart HS
Johnathan Miller | Rio Rancho, N.M. | Rio Rancho HS
Nate Moore | Merced, Calif. | Atwater HS
Gavin Mull | Roanoke, Texas | Byron Nelson HS
Peyton Ott | Aurora, Neb. | Heartland HS
Jose Perez | Amarillo, Texas | Memorial HS
Cade Peterson | Peoria, Ariz. | Kellis HS
David Ray | Beaumont, Texas | Kelly Catholic HS
Stephon Sanders | Troy, N.Y. | Hudson Valley CC
Nick Sazama | Norfolk, Neb. | Norfolk HS
Gideon Schauer | Union, Ill. | Faith Lutheran HS
Christian Schlepp | Manhattan, Kan. | Manhattan Ogden HS
Jordan Spilinek | Doniphan, Neb. | Doniphan-Trumbull HS
Keith Sobnosky | La Porte, Texas | La Porte HS
Logan Stewart | Ault, Colo. | Highland HS
Byron Tuel | St. Peters, Mo. | Lutheran HS
Daniel Urban | Lecompton, Kan. | Perry-Lecompton HS
Keon Waters | Arlington, Texas | Arlington HS
Jaylin Whitelaw | Kansas City, Mo. | University Academy
Devin Zeigler | Cypress, Texas | Cy-Fair HS