USD Football announces early signing class


VERMILLION, S.D (USD) — South Dakota Head Football Coach Bob Nielson is pleased to announce the signing of 13 student-athletes to a National Letter of Intent. In addition, Nielson announced that three other high school standouts have accepted an offer of admissions to the University of South Dakota and plan to join the Coyote football program.

It’s a class that came together during a time when a majority of the recruiting cycle was in an NCAA dead period, where coaches weren’t permitted to travel off campus and with little opportunity for prospects and parents to visit campus. Still, Nielson and his staff continued their ability to attract players from the state, the region and beyond. Five of the 13 signees hail from Florida.

“Our staff does a great job of identifying young men who fit our environment both athletically and academically,” said Nielson. “Having young men who have been successful at USD from those areas, including Florida, has been key. As a result, you’re able to go back to those areas. The relationships we have now, and it’s a credit to our staff and in particular Phil Ockinga and Abdul Hodge in Florida, that have paid rich dividends for us.”

Defensive lineman Earl Miller Jr. and running back Antonio Outler are three-star recruits included from the Sunshine State. Outler joins current Coyotes Jakari and Vincent Starling and Jailen Holman from Coach Al Shipmen’s program at Palm Beach Lakes High School. Offensive lineman Sam Kohls is the younger brother of current Coyote Ben Kohls and is one of two signees from South Dakota. Caden Ellingson, an offensive lineman from Tea, is the other South Dakotan.

“I’m excited across this entire recruiting class,” said Nielson. “We have outstanding people and outstanding football players who are going to be able to impact our program in an immediate fashion.”

The Coyotes enter their first spring season with just 13 seniors and a large group of returners on the roster so Nielson anticipated a smaller class than perhaps other years. That said, he anticipates a few more additions to the 2021 group.

“Your recruiting is never done, and I would guess that we will add two to three more to this class in a combination of freshmen or transfers,” said Nielson. “Our players are excited to be headed into a spring season, and with the fact that our retention was so high and that a lot of our seniors plan to return for the fall, we knew numbers would be smaller. At the same time, it’s a class that definitely met our priorities and will be a great class for the future of Coyote football.”

2021 USD Early Signing Class
Matt Bonnin, Wide Receiver, 6-3, 210 Hudson, Wisconsin (Hudson)
Danny Browdy Jr., Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 205, Bushnell, Florid (South Sumter)
Dominic Caggiano, Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 230, Runnells, Iowa (Southeast Polk)
*Nyle Dickel, Linebacker, 6-3, 220, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Washburn)
Caden Ellingson, Offensive Lineman, 6-7, 250, Tea, South Dakota (Tea Area)
Sam Kohls, Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 310, Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Roosevelt)
Makai Lovett, Wide Receiver, 6-2, 205, Miami, Florida (Miami Senior)
*Jack Martens, Wide Receiver, 5-11, 180, Cumberland, Wisconsin (Cumberland)
Matt Medill, Linebacker, 6-4, 200, Roca, Nebraska (Norris)
Earl Miller Jr., Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 270, Riviera Beach, Florida (American Heritage Delray)
Antonio Outler, Running Back, 5-10, 195, West Palm Beach, Florida (Palm Beach Lakes)
Javon Phelps, Wide Receiver, 6-3, 175, Orlando, Florida (Boone)
Gerrit Poncius, Offensive Lineman, 6-7, 275, Buffalo, Minnesota (Buffalo)
Hunter Push, Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 275, Omaha, Nebraska (Omaha North)
Austin Rosetta, Linebacker, 6-4, 200, Shawnee, Kansas (De Soto)
*Stephen Rusnak, Kicker, 6-1, 170, Clarkston, Michigan (Clarkston)

*Players have accepted an offer of admissions to the University of South Dakota and plan to join the Coyote football program

Matteo Bonnin (Hudson, Wis.) Wide Receiver, 6-3, 210 lbs. Hudson High School

About Matteo: First-team all-conference and all-region performer who accumulated nearly 1,300 all-purpose yards in leading Hudson to a 7-2 record this past fall … combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and receiving and scored nine touchdowns … was named team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year … averaged just shy of eight yards per carry and ran for 735 yards in all … also competes in basketball and baseball for the Raiders

Danny Browdy Jr. (Bushnell, Fla.) Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 205 lbs. South Sumter High School

About Danny: All-area performer who compiled 75 tackles including 16 solo stops and 13 for loss for Coach Lawrence and the South Sumter Raiders this past fall … had 84 stops and five sacks as a junior in 2019 … also competes in basketball at South Sumter

Dominic Caggiano (Runnells, Iowa) Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 230 lbs. Southeast Polk High School

About Dominic: First-team all-state and all-elite performer for the Rams and Coach Zelonovich … posted 70 tackles this past fall including 30 for loss and 16 sacks … also returned an interception for a touchdown … led Southeast Polk to a 10-1 season that culminated in a runner-up finish in the state championships … has already been inducted into the Southeast Polk Hall of Fame … competes in basketball and track and field for the Rams … grandfather played football at Morningside College in Iowa … plans to study engineering at USD

*Nyle Dickel (Minneapolis, Minn.) Linebacker, 6-3, 220 lbs. Washburn High School

About Nyle: First-team all-state and three-time all-conference performer for the Millers … a team captain who racked up 109 tackles this last season, the second-most in the state … included in that tally are 21 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and five sacks … logged more than 300 tackles throughout his career … caught 12 passes for 189 yards and a score his senior year on the offensive side of the ball … also competes in basketball and track and field at Washburn and is an all-conference honoree on the hardwood … has spent multiple semesters on the high/low honor roll

Caden Ellingson (Tea, S.D.) Offensive Lineman, 6-7, 250 lbs. Tea Area High School

About Caden: All-conference and all-state performer for the Titans and Coach Clayberg … an Argus Leader Elite 45 pick … helped lead Tea to an undefeated season and a state title in 2020 … helped Tea gain 4,181 total yards and average 301 yards on the ground … played both sides of the ball for the Titans and was credited with 27 tackles on a unit among the best in the state … also competes in basketball and track and field for the Titans … has earned academic all-state honors … grew up in Beresford, South Dakota, and moved to Tea ahead of his junior year … plans to study kinesiology at USD

Sam Kohls (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 310 lbs. Roosevelt High School

About Sam: All-state lineman and an Argus Leader Elite 45 performer … three-year starter in the trenches for the Rough Riders … also competes in track and field at Roosevelt … older brother, Ben, is a true freshman offensive lineman at USD … plans to study business at USD

Makai Lovett (Miami, Fla.) Wide Receiver, 6-2, 205 lbs. Miami Senior High School

About Makai: Shined at both quarterback and wide receiver in high school … helped push the Stingarees into the playoffs in 2019 when he threw for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns while scrambling for 14 scores … also caught 20 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns … had 29 catches for more than 500 yards as a senior … earned Team MVP honors … also competes in basketball, volleyball and track and field … plans to study graphic design at USD

*Jack Martens (Cumberland, Wis.) Wide Receiver, 5-11, 180 lbs. Cumberland High School

About Jack: The 2020 recipient of the Al Toon Award as the most outstanding senior wide receiver in Wisconsin … recently named 2020 All-Northwest Wisconsin Player of the Year … on the state’s all-time lists, ranks second in career receptions (250), third in receiving yards (3,305) and fifth for receiving touchdowns (37) … caught 86 passes for 1,136 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in leading Cumberland to a 9-0 record this past fall … had 94 catches for 1,190 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior in 2019 … WFCA Small School All-State honoree … three-time all-conference receiver and two-time all-conference defensive

back for the Beavers … is also an honorable mention all-state performer on the hardwood and a two-time all-conference baseball player … student council and National Honor Society member who plans to study finance at USD

Matt Medill (Roca, Neb.) Linebacker, 6-4, 200 lbs. Norris High School

About Matt: Two-time all-conference and honorable mention all-state honoree … compiled 55 tackles in just seven games as a junior on defense, and caught six passes for 64 yards and a touchdown on offense … is an academic all-conference honoree on both the gridiron and the track … is a two-time state track and field qualifier who placed fourth at state as a sophomore in the high jump (6-feet-5-inches) and also qualified in the long jump … didn’t start playing football until eighth grade when his family moved into the Norris school district from south Lincoln … sister, Kathleen, played volleyball and competes in track and field at Air Force … father, Steve, was an all-conference hurdler at The Citadel … plans to study nursing at USD

Earl Miller Jr. (Riviera Beach, Fla.) Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 270 lbs. American Heritage Delray High School

About Earl: Three-star recruit by 247 sports … 97th-ranked defensive tackle in the class of 2021 … honorable mention all-state honoree at American Heritage where he racked up 50 tackles including 10 for loss and 6.5 sacks this past season … his numbers included 13 quarterback hits and 12 pressures … ended his junior season with 48 tackles including seven for loss, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and one sack … finished with 112 career tackles including 8.5 sacks … also competes in basketball for the Stallion’s … plans to study finance at USD

Antonio Outler (West Palm Beach, Fla.) Running Back, 5-10, 195 lbs. Palm Beach Lakes High School

About Antonio: Three-star running back as ranked by 247 sports … ran 170 times for 1,780 yards and totaled 19 touchdowns in 2019 which earned him first-team all-county and second-team all-state honors … led Palm Beach Lakes to a 10-0 record in 2019 and was named Team of the Year at the Lou Groza Award Celebration as the only team in Palm Beach County to go undefeated … joins current Coyotes Jakari and Vincent Starling and Jailen Holman from Coach Shipmen’s program … plans to study accounting at USD

Javion Phelps (Orlando, Fla.) Wide Receiver, 6-3, 175 lbs. Boone High School

About Javion: All-Area and all-district performer who has led the Braves in receptions for each of the last two seasons … had 44 catches and team highs of 701 yards and seven touchdowns last season … totaled 88 catches for 1,300 yards and 14 scores in 20 career games … also registered two interceptions on the defensive side of the ball … is an all-Metro basketball player … father, Jamiel, played collegiate basketball at Triton College … has been on the 3.0 honor roll each quarter and plans to study kinesiology at USD

Gerrit Poncius (Buffalo, Minn.) Offensive Lineman, 6-7, 275 lbs. Buffalo High School

About Gerrit: Imposing left tackle who comes from a football family … father, Erik, was an offensive lineman at North Dakota … older brother, Hunter, plays up at North Dakota State … grandfather competed at Iowa State and Uncle at Troy … is a three-year letterwinner both on the gridiron and on the wrestling mat … had his senior season cut short due to COVID … plans to study business at USD

Hunter Push (Omaha, Neb.) Offensive Lineman, 6-4, 275 lbs. Omaha North High School

About Hunter: Four-year letterwinner for the Vikings and Coach Martin … helped lead Omaha North to the 2017 state championship … effective on both sides of the ball … multi-sport star who also competes in wrestling in the winter and throws the shot and discus in the spring … has been named to the honor roll every semester and plans to study business at USD

Austin Rosetta (Shawnee, Kan.) Linebacker, 6-4, 200 lbs. De Soto High School

About Austin: All-state and two-time all-conference honoree for the Wildcats who carries a 4.29 weighted grade point average … United Kansas Conference Defensive Player of the Year and finalist for Kansas 5A Defensive Player of the Year … backed up the nomination with 112 tackles this past season with four interceptions and 123 return yards off those four turnovers … led the Wildcats to two conference titles … is an all-conference outfielder on the diamond … also had two tackles for loss and forced a fumble … … plans to study business at USD

*Stephen Rusnak (Clarkston, Mich.) Kicker, 6-1, 170 lbs. Clarkston High School

About Stephen: All-conference performer and two-year starter at kicker and punter for the Wildcats … had three field goals and totaled 43 points this past season … registered touchbacks on 96 percent of his deep kicks and totaled 29 touchbacks in all … scored 55 points in two seasons … also competes in golf and soccer at Clarkston … had an undefeated season on the links as both a freshman and sophomore … has a cousin who plays football at Ball State … is enrolled in honors and AP courses and plans to study business at USD

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