Photos by Tim Sanger/NDSU Athletics
By Sam Herder
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. The Bison football team is no exception with its melting pot of talent that arrives in Fargo from across America. It’s this fusion of skill and personality that makes the NDSU football locker room as attractive as any in the country for aspiring Division I football players from Florida, California and everywhere in between. Eight current members of the Bison tell their stories of how they landed in Fargo and one future Bison explains his reasoning behind picking the Herd.
Recruiting Coordinator: Brent Vigen & Nick Goeser
Position: Defensive line
Hometown: Carlos, Minn.
High School: Alexandria Jefferson High School
- Bemidji State
If it wasn’t for his initiative, Aaron Steidl may have ended up playing football for Minnesota-Duluth. He first started his contact with former NDSU offensive coordinator Brent Vigen during the spring of his junior year and was invited to a summer camp. Vigen stayed in contact during his senior year of football and wanted Steidl to come on a visit. But then head coach Craig Bohl accepted a job at Wyoming and brought along most of his staff, including Vigen.
When contact from Fargo dropped off, Steidl was ready to commit to Duluth. But he figured it wouldn’t hurt to send an email to recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Nick Goeser, who remained on the staff.
“I just said ‘I’m curious if you guys are still interested. I’d love to get up for a visit and I know things are chaotic and phone numbers and contacts have been lost,’” Steidl recalled. “I got an email about 10-15 minutes later on my way to hockey practice that said we’d love to give you a preferred walk-on offer and get you here for a visit before signing day.”
He took a visit with his dad and had defensive lineman Brian Schaetz as his host. Steidl found himself to be just like Schaetz and other small-town guys on the team. He was sold and committed shortly after his visit, which was helped by learning how much the coaching staff cared.
“Coach Klieman was in Florida during my visit,” Steidl said. “The thing that stood out was that every coach talked to me on my visit. (Former athletic director) Gene Taylor talked to me and my dad because coach Klieman wasn’t here. Gene told us, ‘Chris isn’t here, but he’s going to call you instantly when he’s off the plane.’ And not even 1.5 hours after we left for home, I got a call from coach Klieman and he said, ‘I know I missed your meeting, but we really want you to come here.’”
“Me and my dad came on the visit and on the ride home, he asked where I wanted to go and then he said, ‘I think we both know where you should go and why.’ And I said ‘I agree, I’m choosing NDSU.’ I just felt like I was home. Coming here, the people have the same small-town background as I do. And guys come here from all over and become brothers.”
Steidl came to NDSU as a preferred walk-on. He worked his way up to a partial scholarship after his redshift freshman season in 2015, then a full scholarship after earning a starting role.
“The full-ride was more expected after I got a partial. The one that really got me was the day I went up to Coach Klieman’s office right before our semifinal game. He said, ‘Just to let you know, you’re going to be on half-ride next semester and don’t let anyone tell you that you didn’t deserve it. You proved yourself on why you deserve it.’ I’m not a real emotional guy, but that’s one of those things where someone like Coach Klieman, who means so much to you, telling you that here’s your reward for what you’ve done for us. It brought a tear to my eye.