BY JEREMY HOECK
In an effort to improve the overall team speed, the football coaches at the University of South Dakota made a concerted effort to recruit the state of Florida more aggressively.
One of the products of that effort is Shamar Jackson, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound running back from Pahokee.
Jackson, who played both ways as a safety and running back, finished his senior season with 930 rushing yards and six interceptions on defense.
He talked Wednesday about his decision to sign with USD and what he sees as the future of the program.
How’d you decide what side of the ball to focus on?
“Coach actually asked me which would I prefer, so I told him offense. Then he said they planned to use me as a running back and slot receiver.”
How anxious are you to be a Coyote?
“I told my mom, ‘I’d leave today if I could.’ I’m ready to get up there.”
What put you over the top in choosing USD?
“That was my only offer, so it was a pretty easy choice.”
What’s your impression of the program?
“I asked some of the guys questions like that when I was up there (in January). I love it, I like what they did with the recruiting process. They got a bunch of Florida kids. It’ll be pretty cool, I’ve got people from my area that are going up with me.”
How do you think you progressed into being a D-I recruit?
“Defense-wise, I got better at reading the defense; something I didn’t do as well my junior year. On offense, I got in the open field more.”
What can you bring to the program?
“I think if I can get in the open field, that’s when I know nobody can catch me.”
BY JEREMY HOECK
While most of the pre-season talk centered on the USD women’s basketball team coming off a trip to the NCAA Tournament, there were some scattered mentions of the team’s depth for 2014-15.
The Coyotes returned four starters and a handful of reserves from that Summit League championship squad.
Through 22 games in its title defense, USD (17-5, 7-2) has taken a significant step forward primarily because of that depth.
Averaging 79.4 points per game, the first-place Coyotes are ranked 10th nationally in scoring — one spot ahead of top-ranked South Carolina — and 27th in field goal percentage (44.4).
Their biggest improvement in one year, though?
The reserves have combined to average 24.2 points per game, highlighted by a 46-point output in Saturday’s rout of Oral Roberts.
“Our team really does play the best when we have lots of people contributing,” USD head coach Amy Williams said.
And that’s exactly what the Coyotes are getting.
Seniors Raeshel Contreras (16.2 ppg) and Nicole Seekamp (13.7) lead the way, while juniors Margaret McCloud (10.0) and Tia Hemiller (9.2), along with senior Lisa Loeffler (6.1), round out the starting five.
From there, however, the reserves are picking up the slack. Junior Kelly Stewart averages 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds, while sophomore Bridget Arens from Crofton, Nebraska, adds 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds.
The other reserves are freshman Kate Liveringhouse (6.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg), who had a season-best 21 points Sunday, as well as junior Heidi Hoff (3.3 ppg) and sophomore Jaylah Jackson (3.3 ppg).
In short: Spreading the wealth isn’t issue in Vermillion.
“That’s just Coyote basketball,” Contreras said Saturday. “We like to share the ball a lot.”
The only name from that group who wasn’t with USD last season was, of course, Liveringhouse, from Bellevue, Nebraska. She is the back-up to McCloud, who herself was a key reserve in the team’s run to a Summit League title last year.
“It’s nice to be able to give the team a spark and relieve those players who do need a break,” Liveringhouse said Saturday.
Also a season ago, the Coyotes had Arens (4.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Stewart (5.7 ppg) as the key sparks off the bench. Hoff missed the final 21 games with injury, while Madeleine White (she transferred) and Taylor Moore were used sparingly — 10 minutes a game.
And so, here are the Coyotes, out to a 3-game improvement from last season at this time.
The key down the stretch? Staying consistent, from the starters on to those reserves.
“It lets them know that they are going to be counted on to bring something to the table, and that they’re capable of that,” Williams said.
National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 4. And in the lead-up to that day, I’ll update this list of football recruits for the University of South Dakota. Make sure to check back every so often. The list has doubled in the past week, as I type this (Monday, Jan. 26). The most recent names are going to be the ones at the bottom of the list, FYI. – Jeremy
• Nathan Byrd, OL/DL, SF O’Gorman, 6-7, 265 http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2997213/nathan-byrd
• Nickel Meyers, WR, 6-4, SF Lincoln, all-state http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1775449/nickel-meyers
• Dylan Arntz, DL, 6-4, SF Lincoln, all-state http://www.hudl.com/athlete/4739594/dylan-arntz
• Brock Brandt, lineman, Clear Lake, Iowa, 6-6, 280 http://www.hudl.com/athlete/595743/brock-brandt
• Calvin Strong, RB, 5-9, 185, Omaha North, 2-star Rivals
• DeValon Whitcomb, TE, 6-3, 220, Omaha North
• Austin Simmons, QB, Council Bluffs, Iowa, 6-1, 205 http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2132773/austin-simmons
• Danny Rambo, FS/SB, Highlands Ranch, Colorado http://www.hudl.com/athlete/4186846/highlights/185711375
• Shamar Jackson, RB/WR, Royal Palm Beach, Florida http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3096469/shamar-jackson
• Ryan Schuster, FB/OLB, Ashland, Neb., Ashland-Greenwood HS http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2291594/ryan-schuster
• Michael Fredrick, RB, 5-10, Hialeah, Florida, 2-star Rivals, had previously committed to now-defunct UAB
• Braden DeBoer, DE/DT, 6-4, 225, Sioux Center, Iowa http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1536269/braden-deboer
• Marquiz Simpkins, RB, 5-9, 188, Clinton, Oklahoma. 3-star Rivals recruit, had offers from Southern Miss & Tulsa
• Dale Williamson, WR/FS, 6-0, 175, Texarkana, Texas http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3462628/dale-williamson-jr
• Samy Jean-Claude, DL, 6-4, 235, 2-star Rivals, Hallandale Beach, Florida https://rivals.yahoo.com/ucf/football/recruiting/player-Samy-Jeanclaude-164293 http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2700844/samy-jeanclaude
• Michael Bianchi, DL, 6-6, 315, Wauconda, Illinois http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1457291/john-michael-bianchi
• Nate Gunn, RB, 6-2, 210, Minooka, Illinois http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/player-Nate-Gunn-155681/print
• Romontay Hill, LB, 6-1, 205, Oak Lawn, Illinois http://www.hudl.com/athlete/934068/romontay-hill
• Tyler Johnson, OL, 6-5, 245, Western Dubuque HS, Epworth, Iowa http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1751835/tyler-johnson
• Luis Peguero, DE, 6-3, 225, Palm Beach Central HS, Wellington, Florida, 2-star Rivals, had an offer from South Florida http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2715414/luis-peguero
• Eric Saintil, WR, 6-2, 185, Homestead, Florida http://www.hudl.com/athlete/3498230/eric-saintil
• Markale Moses, DB, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. 2-star Rivals http://www.hudl.com/athlete/832895/markale-moses
• Jovane Parkinson, CB, 6-1, 165, St. Cloud, Florida http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2257557/jovane-parkinson
• Brandon Storebo, TE/DE, 6-5, 225, Fort Collins, Colorado
• Antonio Jones-Davis, SS/FS, 6-1, 190, Vero Beach, Florida
The decision in December by the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) to eliminate its football program has now had a trickle effect on the University of South Dakota.
Michael Fredrick, a 2-star running back from Hialeah, Florida, had verbally committed to UAB last summer. But with that school without a football program, Fredrick verbally committed Friday to the University of South Dakota.
Fredrick, a 5-foot-10, 173-pound back, guided Champagnat Catholic High School (located in Miami) to a state championship in 2013 as a junior.
Commitments are not binding until an athlete signs its National Letter of Intent on National Signing Day, which is Feb. 4.
BY JEREMY HOECK
A pair of all-state standouts for back-to-back state champion Sioux Falls Lincoln have verbally committed to play football at the University of South Dakota, according to their coach, Aaron Beavers.
Nickel Meyers, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver, and Dylan Arntz, a 6-foot-4 defensive lineman, will continue their careers — on scholarship — at USD, according to Beavers.
Meyers committed to the Coyote coaching staff on Tuesday night and Arntz did the same on Wednesday.
Of the two, Meyers had the most Division I interest, including South Dakota State and North Dakota, Beavers said. Meyers had over 1,100 receiving yards with eight touchdowns as a senior, in leading the Patriots to a second straight Class 11AAA championship.
“He’s got size, speed, great hands and great leaping ability,” Beavers said. “He’s one of the finest athletes I’ve been around.”
A spot receiver for the Patriots in their state title run in 2013, Meyers eventually became the top target his senior season.
“One of the (college) coaches made the comment that it’s almost like he came out of nowhere,” Beavers said. “And really, that’s true.”
That improvement between Meyer’s junior and senior seasons should mean he’s still on the rise, Beavers said.
“Over the course of a year, he got a lot better, and he’ll only get better,” Beavers said. “He’s got a lot of talent that you’ll be able to see down there.”
In Arntz, the Coyotes are getting a defensive lineman who had 15.5 sacks as a senior — 26 in his career — and who also excels as a sprinter for the state champion track team.
“He’s got a great motor; the kid just has no quit,” Beavers said. “He’s a hundred miles an hour wherever he goes.”
USD previously got a commitment from Sioux Falls O’Gorman lineman Nathan Byrd.
Commitments are not binding until athletes sign their National Letter of Intent on National Signing Day, which is Feb. 4.
You can follow Jeremy Hoeck on Twitter at twitter.com/jhoeck. Discuss this story at http://www.yankton.net.