Photos by Darren Gibbins and J. Alan Paul Photography
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: Atif Austin
Position: Defensive back
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Fla.
High School: Boca Ciega High School
How He Got Here
The December 2013 announcement that Craig Bohl was leaving the Bison football program for Wyoming sent a brief panic across Bison Nation and for some of the recruits who already committed. In hindsight, it didn’t matter as much and most of the players on NDSU’s radar for the 2014 recruiting class inked their commitments to NDSU.
For Jaylaan Wimbush, the turnover on the coaching staff was a blessing in disguise. The three-year starter at Boca Ciega High School in Florida was going mostly unnoticed around the country. He was stuck on a poor team and his coach resigned after his senior season. Wimbush was left with his dad and high school athletic director to help him in the recruiting process.
February’s Signing Day came and went without Wimbush officially declaring his commitment. That’s when the new NDSU wide receivers coach noticed a player he was recruiting for his old school was still unsigned.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and luckily I knew coach (Atif) Austin,” Wimbush said during his final spring camp as a Bison. “He was recruiting me at Stetson, where he was from. Stetson is a private college so it was really expensive, and I was like, ‘Thanks coach, but there’s not a lot I can do as far as financials.’ He ended up getting the job here, saw that I didn’t sign anywhere and needed a safety. I was their guy.”
“I met with Coach [Chris] Klieman, I met with [Joe] Klanderman and talked defense. I left that afternoon, but initially, that was the clincher. I got to really see everything and get personal with the coaches, even though they didn’t know if I was going to come or not and that really hit home with me.”
“In high school, I didn’t have the fan base or the notoriety that I thought I should have, but coming here, I noticed it was a family atmosphere.”