BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — Regan Bye will join his cousin at the Division I level.
Bye, a senior at Vermillion High School, verbally committed Friday to wrestle at Nebraska. His announcement came three months after his cousin Brett, also a senior, committed to South Dakota State.
Both wrestlers have been linked throughout their high school careers, capped off by both winning an individual Class A state championship last season.
“We know that what we’ve done for the last ten years hasn’t been for nothing, it’s been influential,” Regan told the Press & Dakotan on Friday.
“All the work we’ve done in the summers and in the mornings has paid off.”
For Regan, a two-time state champion at 145 pounds, his college decision wasn’t all that difficult, he said.
He and his family — including father Hazen, who is also the Vermillion head coach — visited Lincoln for Regan’s official visit on Sept. 26. It didn’t take long for him to know that was his future home, Regan said.
“It was one of those feelings when you just know,” he said.
Down at the Nebraska campus, Regan was able to spend time with the Nebraska coaching staff, which includes former national champion and Olympic gold medalist (Jordan Burroughs).
“It might have wowed his mom more than anyone,” Hazen Bye joked.
The culture around the Husker program was one that impressed not only Regan, but his family, his father added.
“The program is very impressive in how much they stress academics, and the team aspect,” Hazen Bye said. “They’re all friends in the wrestling room, and the coach has really surrounded himself with good guys.”
That head coach, Mark Manning, is a Vermillion native, so there were obvious ties. Regan maintains, though, that he didn’t want that to affect his decision.
“We’ve known him my whole life,” Regan said. “It’s awesome to be able to know someone in the program.”
Former Wagner standout Robert Kokesh will enter his senior season for the Huskers in 2014-15.
BY JEREMY HOECK
With the prospect of an 0-3 conference start on the line Saturday, the University of South Dakota will face Missouri State for homecoming Saturday afternoon in Springfield.
Both sides understand what’s at stake.
“We’ve got to do something special,” said coach Joe Glenn, whose Coyotes (2-4, 0-2) are looking for their first victory outdoors in four years.
The last two meetings between the programs have been decided by three points: Missouri State won 27-24 at home in 2012, while USD won 17-14 in Vermillion last season.
“I expect it it’ll probably be that way this week,” Missouri State coach Terry Allen said. “Joe’s done a great job with that team, they’re better than they’ve been in the past.
“They’ve got their quarterback back, so they’ll be a handful.”
Though junior quarterback Kevin Earl returned for last Saturday’s game, the Coyotes were dealt a couple other dings to some offensive weapons in the loss to Northern Iowa.
Wide receiver Riley Donovan passed a concussion test Tuesday morning, Glenn said, while tight end Aaron Ramsey will have an MRI on a knee.
Despite the 0-2 league start, spirits remain high in Coyote land, according to Glenn.
“We’re capable. We can do this,” he said. “We can get in the ring with pretty much anyone in our league, and we’ve got to keep improving and do it right.”
BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — Pass rush was the one key difference in Saturday’s meeting between the University of South Dakota and Northern Iowa.
In short: The Coyotes struggled to contain the pressure from the No. 21-ranked Panthers, who won 27-16 on Dakota Days in Vermillion.
Northern Iowa recorded seven sacks and picked off two passes against USD, which fell to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the Missouri Valley.
“The game was won in the trenches, and their front seven was just sensational,” Coyote head coach Joe Glenn said.
Not only did the Panthers sack USD quarterback Kevin Earl seven times, they got to him on a handful of other times — pushing their way right through the Coyote offensive line.
“That’s a lot of sacks,” Earl said. “It wasn’t all of my o-line’s fault, I could have gotten out of a few of them.”
And once again, the Coyote defensive line did not record a sack.
This season, opponents have amassed 20 sacks against USD, while the Coyotes have one (from Drew Iddings).
While injuries have limited a couple defensive linemen for USD, there was bound to be a little bit of a drop-off after Tyler Starr graduated and found a home in the NFL.
“It’s just who we got,” Glenn said. “It tells you how good that guy last year was, doesn’t it? We sure miss him.”
Having only one sack on the season doesn’t exactly mean the Coyotes aren’t bringing any pressure, the coach added.
“We get a lot of push with (Iddings), and (Keyen) Lage can come pretty good off the edge,” Glenn said, “but we’re just of young with the rest of the guys.
“Maybe if you send more guys, but then you’ve got an all-new secondary.”
BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — After five games, Kevin Earl is back under center at the University of South Dakota.
Five games and six weeks and one broken thumb later, the junior quarterback will return for the Coyotes, who host No. 21-ranked Northern Iowa for today’s (Saturday) 3 p.m. homecoming game at the DakotaDome.
“It seems like forever since I’ve been out there,” Earl said after a practice this week. “It’s nice to be able to get rid of some of the rust.”
Earl broke a bone in his right thumb after slamming it against a helmet in the season opener at Oregon. His backup, Ryan Saeger, started the next five games, leading the Coyotes to a 2-2 record.
Even with that much time away from game action, Earl maintained this week that his timing and accuracy feel crisp — all with little to no pain in his right hand.
“I’ve always had a pretty good feel with our receivers,” he said. “It doesn’t really take too long to get back on the same page with them.”
Though the Coyotes boast a potent rushing attack that averages 214 yards a game, the receivers are anxious to have their offensive leader back.
“It’s nice to have him back,” sophomore Riley Donovan said. “It’s a whole new energy on the field.”
BY JEREMY HOECK
VERMILLION — It wasn’t that long ago that Nick Jacobs was laying on a hospital bed, battling a persistent virus that enlarged his spleen.
And now, number 56 is ready to return to the defensive line for the University of South Dakota football team.
Jacobs, a junior defensive tackle, was medically cleared Wednesday and will see his first action of the season Saturday afternoon when the Coyotes host No. 21 Northern Iowa.
“I always knew I would come through,” Jacobs said after Wednesday’s practice, his first since Aug. 17. “I never lost faith or lost hope.”
A two-year starter on the line for the Coyotes (2-3), Jacobs developed an infection in his esophagus during pre-season practices and soon had ulcers. He found it difficult to swallow food, which prompted a weight loss.
Not to mention trips to the hospital.
“It was tough being there for five days, then coming out and not being able to practice,” Jacobs said.
Though he wasn’t in action for USD’s first five games, Jacobs was still a noticeable presence at practices, helping his fellow defensive lineman — next to d-line coach Marquice Williams.
“It’s been a while, but being able to watch the guys and spending time with coach Williams has made me a better player,” Jacobs said.
In what way?
In the sense that even though Jacobs hasn’t been going through drills, he’s still been in the loop, he said. There were still some early rust to be knocked off in Wednesday’s first practice back, but no worry, Jacobs added.
“It took a little bit of time, but honestly, I’ve been so focused with the guys,” he said. “I knew all the plays and what to do.”
And so, he will rejoin a defensive line unit that has recorded one sack on the season.
The Coyotes have played on the line: Drew Iddings (18 tackles, 1 sack), Sean Bredl (16 tackles, 1 INT), Fred Beaugard (14), Bailey Sutko (8), Adam Praska (4), Kray Krolikowski (3), Jon Maag (2), Mason Ruiz (1) and Matt Miller (1).
As the swelling of Jacobs’ spleen has subsided, he has been able to boost his weight — back up near 285 pounds, Glenn said.
“Time’s a wasting. We need him,” the Coyote coach said. “I hope he plays a whale of a game. We really need him.”
His teammates agreed.
“You really can’t do anything about it, stuff like that happens, but it’s awesome we got him back,” sophomore wide receiver Riley Donovan said. “He’s a playmaker. We need him.”
Jacobs, who has started 20 games (and played in all 21) over the previous two seasons, might need a little time to rediscover his game speed Saturday, according to Glenn.
“His first game, he might be finding his way,” Glenn said. “It’s the same thing with our quarterback. It might take a little time to develop a rhythm.”