UNK football announces Held’s first signing class
KEARNEY, Neb. (press release) — The Nebraska Kearney football team today announced the names of seven transfers and 18 high school seniors who will play for the Lopers this fall.
The class is divided into 13 defensive players, 10 offensive players and two specialists. Depending on their position, there are six D linemen, four receivers, three defensive backs, linebackers and tight ends, two O linemen, a quarterback, punter and kicker. Next up are 13 Nebraskans with Kansas (three), Alabama, Florida and Georgia (two each), Arizona, California and Oklahoma (one each) also represented. Finally, four of the transfers are currently enrolled at UNK and undergoing winter conditioning.
“In a short space of time we’ve been able to attract some really good football players who fit the needs of our team,” said new UNK head coach Ryan Held. “It was a team effort by the Loper family to make this happen. We have taken a one-man-at-a-time approach that fits what we want here in our culture of discipline, attention to detail and toughness.”
The transfers include linebackers Joko Willis (Auburn U.), receivers Cole Brown (U. of Central Arkansas) and Stephen Lewis (Minnesota West), tight end Luke Fletcher (Butler CC), D-linemen Stephen Matina (Hutchinson CC) and Darius Hurd (Contra Costa CC, California) and kicker Gabe Heins (Nebraska). The Lopers had a big senior/COVID senior class of 2022 with another coming up.
UNK went to the capital to prepare for talent, adding four natives from Lincoln while signing four from the greater Omaha area. This preparatory class is used to winning as five new Lopers were part of the state title or state runners-up squads in 2022 and 2021. These players have a chance to play in 2023 because the NCAA Division II recently passed a rule allowing true freshmen to appear in three games without using a season of eligibility.
“We wanted to sign high school players from Nebraska, and we did. We also went to the region and country to attract players who will make an immediate impact and progress through our program,” Held said.
Held noted that the Lopers will be adding more talent to the 2023 squad in the coming months. The spring ball is scheduled to begin in late March, with fall camp opening in early August. The season opener will be on August 31 (Thursday) in Central Oklahoma.
“We will be working throughout the spring to meet some more needs that we have. We will also keep our focus on the Class of 2024 beginning in Nebraska and regionally,” Held said. “Overall, I’m pleased with the work of my coaching team and everyone who helped make this possible.”
Mid-year transfers…currently enrolled at UNK and in winter training (4)
Cole Brown (WR, R-Sun., 6-3, 205 lbs., Dallas, Georgia/U. of Central Arkansas & East Paulding HS)
Luke Fletcher (TE, Jr., 6-6, 240 lbs., Hays, Kan./Butler CC, Kan. & Hays HS)
Stephen Matina (DL, Jr., 6-5, 360 lbs., Lansing, Kan./Hutchinson CC, Kan. & Lansing HS)
Joko Willis (LB, R-Jr., 6-3, 215 lbs., LaGrange, Ga./Auburn U. & Troup County HS)
Coverage of transfers in August (3)
Gabe Heins (K, R-Jr., 6-0, 180 lbs., Kearney/U. of Nebraska-Lincoln & Kearney HS)
Stephen Lewis (WR, Jr., 6-2, 190 lbs., Gardendale, Alabama/Minnesota West & Gardendale HS)
Darius Hurd (DL, Jr., 6-5, 275 lbs., Vallejo, Calif./Contra Costa CC, Calif. & Benicia HS)
Nebraska High School Seniors (12)
Zach Cross (OL, 6-5, 300 lbs., Omaha/Millard West HS)
Cael Dembinski (OL, 6-5, 265 lbs., Tal/Douglas County West HS)
Weston Heinemann (DE, 6-4, 240 lbs., Bennington/Bennington HS)
Garret Hoefs (LB, 6-0, 215lbs, Lincoln/Lincoln Lutheran HS)
Maccoy Holtam (LB, 6-0, 200 lbs., Omaha/Skutt Catholic HS)
Cole Luedtke (DL, 6-3, 260 lbs., Lincoln/Lincoln Southwest HS)
Marty Mormino (P, 6-0, 200 lbs., Omaha, Neb./Westside HS)
Kamdyn Roebke (WR, 6-0, 175lbs, Lincoln/Lincoln East HS)
Abram Scholting (QB, 6-0, 175 lbs., Pierce/Pierce HS)
Kade Seip (DL, 6-3, 260lbs, Lincoln/Lincoln North Star HS)
Dalton Snodgrass (TE, 6-2, 225 lbs., York/York HS)
Tucker Thomas (DE, 6-4, 235 lbs., Mitchell/Mitchell HS)
High school graduates (6)
Seth Anderson (TE, 6-5, 250 lbs., Norton, Can./Norton HS)
Saieed Hasan (CB, 6-2, 190 lbs., Peoria, AZ/Peoria HS)
Caden McGruder (S, 6-2, 200 lbs., Gardendale, Alabama/Gardendale HS)
Kai McPherson (WR, 6-2, 185 lbs., Miami, Fla./Barbara Goleman HS)
Garhett Reese (S, 6-2, 185 lbs., Stillwater, Oklahoma/Stillwater HS)
Dereon Walker (DL, 6-3, 285 lbs., Cocoa, Fla./Rockledge HS)
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