Tinker signing day

South Dakota School of Mines head football coach Zach Tinker talks to Hardrocker fans during the signing Day party Wednesday night at Buffalo Wild Wings. The Hardrockers signed 28 recruits for the 2019 season.

South Dakota School of Mines football coach Zach Tinker said there were no surprises Wednesday during the first day of the NCAA's National Signing Day.

That is, all of the letters of intent that they sent out were all returned and signed.

"I think it is a balanced class," said Tinker Wednesday night at the team's signing party at Buffalo Wild Wings. "When we got to the closing time we felt good the letters that we sent out came back, and that is what you are looking for in that last day."

Tinker and the Hardrockers announced the addition of 28 signees to the 2019 football roster Wednesday morning on a livestream broadcast in the Christensen Hall of Fame Room at the King Center.

After losing almost 20 seniors from the past 5-6 season, the Hardrocker coaches feel they have added some quality scholar athletes as they begin the 2019 campaign.

Tinker credited assistant coach Bo Montgomery with his work in the recruiting process.

“Coach Montgomery did a great job in helping produce a very strong class and keeping our staff disciplined through the process right up through the final weekend,” Tinker said. “We look forward to the start of spring ball and continuing the development of our ‘Blue Collar-Gold Standard’ culture in Hardrocker football.”

Among the areas the Hardrockers went after were on the defensive line,  replenish the running back position, continue to recruit big wide receivers, add depth to the offensive line and bring in a quarterback to be in the running to replace Jake Sullivan, who led the NCAA Division II this past season in passing yardage per game.

"We wanted to get a couple of big bodies on the interior of the defense and we did that that with Nate Mesa of Colorado Springs and Tyrese Morris out of Rapid City Stevens. That was important," he said. "We wanted to get some length guys on defense that can help cover up some of the space against these spread offenses, and we were able to do that.

"We're not going to have as many match-up challenges out in space as we were a season ago. I always felt like we were one guy short in the matchups."

The Hardrockers have to replace graduated senior running backs Connor Silveria, who set the D-2 single-game rushing record this season (425 yards), along with Kevin Thompson. Among the new running backs include Logan Goodwin of Ramona, Calif., Kyle Ivie of Green River, Wyoming, and Gage Tuohy of Chatfield, Minn.

Also in the fold is quarterback Orlando Westbrook-Sanchez, III, from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Tinker said that Westbrook-Sanchez is as unique of a quarterback that they have ever recruited.

"He is such a dual-threat player; his level of escapability and athleticism is very unique," he said. "You don't want all of the same guy and that is some of the variation that we have."

Of the 28 recruits, two are from South Dakota (Morris and  defensive lineman Holden Wagner of Lennox), four from Arizona and 11 are from Colorado.

"There is the population there (Colorado), so you have more access and we consider it a local territory," Tinker said. "We've done better there and we are getting name recognition because we are having success in the RMAC, and that is a good step for our program. We have some really good players from Colorado, and we ant to keep doing it."

While the Mines coaches looked at certain positions to recruit, Tinker said they also just tried to grab up good players, regardless of the position.

"There were a couple of times that we took a player because we just couldn't turn that player down," he said. "Do we need another one of those? I don't know if we need one, but we definitely want one so we are going to take him."

Tinker said that signing day is a reset point for recruiting, but not an end-point for recruiting. In college athletics, recruiting never ends.

"Now we start to get heavily involved in the transfer market, and what is available to us," he said. "The base of the class is complete and now we will look at players who can make an immediate impact if possible."

The Hardrockers begin spring practice March 14.

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.