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Bison add four football recruits, Klieman says early signing period 'here to stay'

NDSU head football coach Chris Klieman addresses his linebacking corps during a recent practice at August camp. David Samson / Forum News Service

FARGO—With the new early December signing period in NCAA Division I football, North Dakota State University head coach Chris Klieman only had to announce four new additions on national signing day, Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Klieman doesn't see this new way of doing business for signing players going away.

"It was our first go-around at this. One thing I will tell you is the early signing period is here to stay in talking to a lot of people at our NCAA convention," said Klieman, who is on the Board of Trustees of the American Football Coaches Association. "It's something that all the coaches believe is helping their programs. It definitely helped our program. I know that it's going to be here to stay. What I don't know is are they going to potentially move that thing up into August or July? I'm not sure about that, that's probably down the road a little bit."

The Bison signed 23 players in December and on Wednesday inked linebacker Jasir Cox from Kansas City, Mo.; wide receiver Kenneth Channelle from Jacksonville, Fla.; wide receiver Zach Mathis from Tampa, Fla.; and linebacker Juanye Tillman from Orlando, Fla.

"We had a couple of positions that we needed to try to fulfill, and we were able to get those," Klieman said.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Jasir Cox is the younger brother of Bison linebacker Jabril Cox, who had a breakout season for the Bison last fall. Klieman said Jasir is a versatile player who could play either safety or linebacker due to his cover and tackling skills. Klieman also expects Jasir Cox to be a valuable player on special teams.

"He's able to cover in space, he's able to tackle exceptionally well, be an excellent special teams guy for us. We can't have enough of those type bodies," Klieman said. "Jasir is going to make a name for himself. ... We're excited about him because he has a unique skill set."

The Bison landed two different types of receivers in Channelle and Mathis. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Channelle is projected to play in the slot.

"A really electric guy. You get the ball in his hands, and he can score from anywhere," Klieman said.

The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Mathis is expected to play an outside receiving spot. His brother, Jacob, plays tight end at the University of Mississippi.

"He gives us maybe that matchup problem for somebody on the outside," Klieman added.

The 6-foot, 205-pound Tillman played for Winter Park High School, which competes in the highest football class in Florida. Tillman was a two-year starter.

"He played against phenomenal competition on a yearly basis," Klieman said.

The Bison recruiting class totaled 27 players, including Wednesday's additions. NDSU signed 19 scholarship players and four preferred walk ons in December.

"I think you're going to see a pretty consistent level of 80-to-90 percent (of a class) signed in December," Klieman said.

He added that, down the road, the early signing period could be moved up to before recruits start their senior season in high school.

"I think maybe Aug. 1 or something after all the camp sessions and things," Klieman said. "I don't think that's going to happen in the next year or two, but I think it's somewhat down the pike somewhere."

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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