GRAND FORKS — Most of the University of North Dakota’s incoming freshmen the past three seasons received scholarship offers after they were evaluated by head coach Bubba Schweigert and his staff at the program’s summer elite camp.
Nearly all of the remaining rookies who didn’t attend the UND elite camp were discovered at another program’s camp — at Northwestern, for example — in which members of the North Dakota coaching staff were present.
True freshman Izzy Adeoti’s recruiting story, however, doesn’t fall into either category.
No one on the North Dakota coaching staff saw Adeoti play football in person before offering the Plano, Ill., native a scholarship.
The rare recruiting move is paying off for UND, which plans to pull the redshirt on Adeoti when the team opens the 2017 season at Utah in Salt Lake City on Aug. 31.
UND wide receivers coach Danny Freund said the coaching staff saw Adeoti’s measurables from another program’s camp and those 40-yard dash times and broad jump numbers stood out enough for the staff to pull up Adeoti’s Hudl highlight film online.
“We saw, based on film, every time he catches the ball he scores,” Freund said. “When you compare that to the testing numbers, we thought he was the real deal.”
Although he received interest from MAC and Missouri Valley programs, Adeoti didn’t have any competing offers when UND offered in October.
Freund speculated Adeoti’s 5-foot-10 height scared off some schools, as well as the location of Plano — a little off the beaten path of the heavily-recruited Chicago.
Since arriving at North Dakota, Adeoti has impressed throughout fall camp with his speed and elusive bursts.
UND hopes to use Adeoti in a similar fashion that it planned to use Clive Georges a season ago. Georges, who broke his leg in the season opener at Stony Brook, was hoped to be a deep threat, as well as an option in UND’s jet sweep rushing game.
“He learns really well,” Freund said of Adeoti. “He came here the first week in July and quickly had a grasp on the system. Our routes are adjusted based on defensive coverage, and he’s able to pick that up while still playing full speed.”
Although UND has a deep position group at wide receiver, the coaching staff is hoping Adeoti can provide a unique skill set.
UND returners Luke Stanley, Travis Toivonen, Demun Mercer and Noah Wanzek are tall, athletic receivers but lack elite speed.
Adeoti was a track star at Plano. At the Illinois state meet, Adeoti said he had the top time in the 100-meter dash heading into the finals.
He pulled his hamstring in the event, however, and finished ninth. He set Plano school records in three different events, including the 100. He said he runs the 100 in 10.8 seconds.
“Right away, I just wanted to see what I could do to get on the plane (to Utah) and see if I could help the team,” Adeoti said. “As camp started going, I realized I could play with the guys here. And this is probably the best defense in the Big Sky, so if I can play with this defense, I can probably play with a lot of defenses.”