MATT HAMPTON | Sports Editor
Second-year head coach Jed Stugart signed a recruiting class of 28 freshmen this season, Lindenwood’s largest in its NCAA history.
The class includes 18 players from Missouri and some non-redshirt freshmen hoping to make an impact on the team this season.
One of those recruits playing as a true freshman is Tayvian Weary from St. John Vianney High School in Kirkwood, Missouri. Stugart said there is “no question” Weary was “one of the best defensive tackles in the area.”
Stugart added that Weary signed with Lindenwood despite other offers from Division I teams.
Another non-redshirt freshman Lindenwood signed this year despite competition from other schools is offensive lineman Blake Rogenhofer.
“It’s very rare and unique to have true freshmen play when they first get here, but he’s a very strong physical kid,” Stugart said. “He’s one of those guys work ethic-wise that you just kind of count on, even though he’s a young freshman, and he’s going to make freshman mistakes. He just has a competitive nature about wanting to succeed on every play.”
Another Missouri freshman not redshirted this season is Cam Holman, who played various positions in high school and was all-state two years in a row. Though he got offers from several other colleges, Holman said he chose Lindenwood because he appreciated the coaching staff, and he was familiar with the campus because his sister was a former track athlete at Lindenwood. He also ran track in high school, but is focusing on football right now and playing on special teams.
Spencer Redd had a successful high school career in Illinois, in which he was all-state and all-conference as a senior.
After he signed as a wide receiver, he suffered a high ankle sprain which prevented him from competing. Stugart said Redd tried to struggle through practices to make it on this year’s team, but had to be pulled. However, Redd said he looks forward to playing later this year.
Ben Anderson, a Coloradan like Stugart, was recruited as a tight end this year. In high school, he helped his team win two consecutive state championships.
“A guy that size that can run and catch like he does, I think, is going to have a huge career here,” Stugart said.
Lindenwood put their focus on recruits with good character and academics, Stugart said.
“Successful programs go beyond just making the plays on the field,” he said. “It’s what you do in the off-season. Most of your success and the development of your whole season is basically in the off-season.”
He added that another reason for focusing on character is to avoid recruits that will get into trouble with “off the field distractions.”
He said he was not necessarily looking for students who always get straight A’s, but those who show leadership and work ethic.
The 2017 recruiting class was the first Stugart signed for Lindenwood. The Lions also signed a large and successful class last year, but Stugart said he had a shorter notice to pick recruits because he was hired in December and signing day was in February.
One player in Stugart’s first Lindenwood recruiting class was redshirt freshman quarterback Cade Brister. Stugart said Brister’s reputation and respect among other players was one reason he stood out, and this year he was selected as a team captain.
In the season opener against Washburn, Brister scored Lindenwood’s first touchdown this season and lead the team with 146 passing yards and 60 rushing yards.
Wide receiver Payton Rose was another redshirt freshman signed last year. Stugart said he first knew Rose from his brother, who played for the University of Sioux Falls, where he coached before the Lions.
Stugart said his recruiting philosophy has involved building the team’s foundation from high school recruits and seeking out local talent.
“When we got here, […] it stuck out right away that we did not have a lot of kids from the surrounding area of St. Louis and St. Charles,” he said.