By Anthony Schnabel & Martin Schlegel
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After spending years at the bottom of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in football scholarship offerings, MSUM has signed a total of 37 student athletes Feb. 3. Thirty-one players signed national letters of intent, and six signed on as preferred walk-ons. For the first time since transitioning to NCAA Division II in 1995, the Dragons will be at their league’s maximum.
The Dragons secured 15 Minnesotan athletes, 11 from North Dakota, six from Wisconsin and four from Illinois.
Head coach Steve Laqua, who will be entering his sixth year next season, is excited about the incoming class.
“It’s encouraging for the future of our program,” Laqua said. “It means that there isn’t the competitive disadvantage that was there before.”
The first season playing on artificial turf donated by Scheels, the Dragons posted a 6-5 record last season, marking their first winning season since 2006. Laqua believes the team will be able to improve each year, especially with the in-city recruiting of three highly regarded Moorhead High players, Devante and Malique Delbrune, and Nate Stich.
“Those are the guys that are impact players, and can play next year,” Laqua said. “(They are the) guys that were heavily recruited by every team in our conference.”
Laqua said there are at least five guys from this class who will make an impact in some fashion next season. In addition to the local recruits, Markus Torpman, an offensive lineman from Uppsala, Sweden, has enrolled this semester and will be ready to play come spring.
The rise in scholarships can be attributed to on-field success and corporate sponsorships from organizations like Sanford Health.
“When I started, we had about nine scholarships,” Laqua said. “Improving each year is the ultimate goal.”