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Craig Bagnell

Craig Bagnell

Craig Bagnell's first recruiting class as head coach of the University of Mary football team will be unveiled on Wednesday.

But, there have been plenty of changes to the Marauders' roster already.

Moving pieces around the chess board has been a common theme for Bagnell since being hired in early December.

"The first thing we needed to do was evaluate the players that were here and project what they could do in the systems we run," Bagnell said. "In some situations that meant switching positions, and in some cases it meant switching from offense to defense.

"I think there are definitely some kids here that can play good football. We just want to make sure we get them into positions where we can maximize their abilities."

An obvious first place to start was at quartberack. The previous system required a run-first QB. In Bagnell's offense, the quarterback needs to be able to run and throw.

Bagnell, who coordinated Bemidji State's high-octane offense the past two seasons, needed a signal-caller with three specific attributes.

1. College experience.

2. Experience in a scheme similar to what the Marauders will run.

3. Able to transfer in at the semester break.

Bagnell is confident he found the right guy. The new QB, along with 24 other commits, will be unveiled as part of National Signing Day on Wednesday.

"We needed to bring in a quarterback that could run our system," Bagnell said. "That was important."

A physical defensive tackle to anchor the Marauders' 3-4 scheme also was targeted. Bagnell is confident they found the run-stuffer they need. They also cast a wide net in search of defensive backs and wide receivers. The roster had just seven wide outs previously, Bagnell wants 14.

The No. 1 trait for all newcomers was clear.

"It was about getting more speed out there," Bagnell said. "With what we do, we need kids that can run."

A number of the slotbacks from last season have been moved to traditional wide receiver and running back positions. One of last season's quarterbacks (Colton Farmer) has switched position. Bagnell expects the senior from Texas to be a big part of the offense next season.

When fall camp rolls around, Bagnell hopes to see all 112 available lockers filled.

"We're pushing to get up around 110," he said.

Getting older also is of critical importance. Last year's team had only four seniors.

"In our league, you need to have guys that are 22 with beards," Bagnell said. "Guys can't keep leaving. We want players that are committed to being here until they graduate.

"We feel good about the guys that are here and the kids we're bringing in. They've bought in and are working hard."

Notes

Spring practice will begin on Friday, March 14 for the Marauders. The spring game, which will be held at the MDU Resources Community Bowl, will be held on Saturday, April 14. ... A signing party will be held on Wednesday night at the Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center in the Lamborn Ballroom in Bismarck. A social begins at 5 p.m. with a program at 6. Bagnell's coaching staff, featuring Brett Holinka (assistant head coach, defensive coordinator), Mark Martin (co-offensive coordinator, offensive line coach), Ben Davis (defensive line, recruiting coordinator), Jordan Noskowiak (wide receivers coach), Matthew Splon (defensive backs coach), Randy Bandelow (cornerbacks coach), Connor Menown (tight ends/H-backs coach), Nick Voorhees (running backs coach) also will be introduced. Free hors d’oeuvres will be served and a cash bar available. The signing party is open to the public.

Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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Sports Editor