The St. Thomas football team’s 2012 fall recruiting class is highlighted by 15 players invited to play in their respective state’s all-star games.
The class is made up of 71 recruits from seven states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Iowa, Michigan and Colorado, and coach Glenn Caruso said he’s excited about the group’s talent level.
“It’s not only a big class, but more importantly it’s a very talented and a very deep class,” he said.
Caruso did not mention any specific players he was excited about, but guys like Kit Snyder, a 6-foot-3-inch defensive end from Wayzata, and David Simmet, a 6-foot-9, 340-pound left tackle from Hill-Murray, could potentially see playing time right away.
“There will be a handful of guys that will have the opportunity to come in and play right away, but more importantly the intent is that the guys will come in and be prepared to work,” Caruso said.
Simmet, who is also planning on playing basketball at St. Thomas, was a second team All-Metro selection in football and averaged 13.8 points on the hardwood. He also had a 4.0 GPA and was involved in theater.
Former Hill-Murray defensive coordinator Joe Lepsche said Simmet is a well-rounded guy who’s light on his feet for someone his size.
“I think he’s a kid who can come in and compete for a starting spot as a freshman,” Lepsche said. “He hasn’t even tapped into how good he can be.”
Snyder led a Trojan defense that dominated teams last season. He recorded 50 tackles and 11 sacks, and that’s after missing two games because of an injury. Snyder was also a first-team All-Metro selection.
Wayzata coach Brad Anderson said that Snyder is a very athletic, explosive defensive lineman who has a knack for making a lot of big plays.
“He’s a high-motor guy,” Anderson said. “At a program like St. Thomas, where they’re looking at competing for a national championship, it’s pretty difficult as a freshman to step in and play right away. However… if there’s a guy I think could step in and play at that level, I think he certainly would be one of them. He’s a very gifted athlete, and he’s played against some really good competition. Given that, I would think he would be able to compete for a spot very early on.”
The Tommies also got a boost on special teams with the addition of All-State kicker/punter Paul Graupner. The Benilde-St. Margaret’s product is also a gifted soccer player and was part of last fall’s state champion team. Graupner plans on playing both football and soccer at St. Thomas.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Jon Hanks said Graupner is the best kicker in Red Knight history and would be surprised if he doesn’t get a chance to play right away.
“If he’s not contributing, I want to see the kid who’s better than him. He could be a D1 guy with some work,” Hanks said. “I think in four years, he might be the kid that shocks some people when he goes and kicks and punts and makes an NFL squad.”
Though the class is big, Caruso said he and his staff do not focus on the quantity of players but rather the quality of the young men they attract to the school.
“The number of bodies is fairly irrelevant. We’re looking at guys that we can plug in and get better year in and year out, throughout each of our positions,” he explained.
Caruso led the Tommies to a 7-3 record in his first season and a record-setting 11-2 record, including a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals, in 2009. Prior to Caruso’s arrival, St. Thomas finished 2-8 in 2007. The two-year turnaround is ranked as the biggest turnaround in Division III football over that time period.
The Tommies won back-to-back conference championships in 2010 and 2011. The 2012 senior class will bring a career regular-season record of 29-1 into its final campaign this fall.
Caruso said there is no magic to finding the right prospect, but he instead focuses on finding players who are “physically, emotionally and mentally” right for the program, a mold he thinks this incoming class fits well.
“At the heart of it, it’s finding guys that care about the team and the work that we’re going to put in,” he said.
Caruso has guided the Tommies to three straight national playoff appearances, including a semifinal appearance last December, and for the second consecutive year, he was voted the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year for Division III.
Caruso credits the program’s strength for the quality of players he has been able to attract.
“We were able to attract a very high level of student athlete, most of which were offered scholarships at the Division-IAA and Division-II level,” Caruso said. “I think that speaks to the power of the program, the power of the sport and the power of St. Thomas that we can attract that type of young man here.”
2012 St. Thomas Football — Incoming Freshmen
Teddy Andrews, St. Thomas Academy
Blake Andruss, Bloomington Jefferson HS
Jon Best, St. Thomas Academy
Cole Boughner, Anoka HS
Brett Bremer, Hopkins HS
Kendrik Brewster, Cretin-Derham Hall
Taylor Case, Prior Lake HS
Rois Coolidge, DeLaSalle HS
Trokon Doeyou, Minneapolis Henry HS
Richie Donovan, Totino-Grace HS
Wofgang Dvorak, Waseca HS
Matt Dysthe, Prior Lake HS
Nicholas Elsenpeter, St. Thomas Academy
Antonio Erskin, Cretin-Derham Hall
Alex Fenske, Marshall HS
Patrick Flaherty, Grand Rapids HS
Alex Fredrich, Tartan HS
Michael Fritz, Holy Family Catholic HS
John Gould, St. Thomas Academy
Paul Graupner, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
Evan Guggenberger, Rocori HS
Tony Harlander, Albany HS
Hootie Hubbell, St. Thomas Academy
Mozus Ikuenobe, Eden Prairie HS
Tommy Johnson, Cretin-Derham Hall
Jack Kaiser, Prior Lake HS
Jesse Krull, Eden Prairie HS
Nick Lefebvre, Foley HS
Connor Longhenry, Glencoe-Siver Lake HS
Tim McClanahan, Cretin-Derham Hall
Luke Molus, Becker HS
Sean Murphy, Nicollet HS
Mack Nelson, Eagan HS
T.J. Patrias, Holy Angels HS
Ryan Reger, Eastview HS
Jake Remes, Edina HS
Tyler San Agustin, Apple Valley HS
Stefan Sauer, Rosemount HS
Moses Saygbe, Elk River HS
Tom Selz, Cambridge-Isanti HS
David Simmet, Hill-Murray HS
Bryan Sinkel, Delano HS
Kit Snyder, Wayzata HS
Leo Spott, Duluth East HS
Esten Weber, Dawson-Boyd HS
Sam Enea, Homestead HS
Brady Goska, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln HS
Joe Greif, Marquette University HS
Dan Herriges, Hamilton Sussex HS
Ryan Himes, Somerset HS
Cody Jaeger, Marquette University HS
Zak Kujawa, Waukesha West HS
Calvin Leszczynski, Milwaukee Piux XI HS
Matt Misiewicz, Marquette University HS
Eric Sutton, Saint Mary’s Springs HS
Eric Bielinski, Loyola Academy
Charlie Dowdle, Loyola Academy
Jack Kellner, St. Viator HS
Jim Lynch, Benet Academy
Matt Marciano, St. Rita HS
Zach Brennan, Iowa City Regina HS
John Foley, Des Moines Roosevelt HS
Conner Frederick, Alburnett HS
Jack Gilliland, Grace Brethren HS
Dominic Truoccolo, St. Ignatius HS
Matt Wagner, Marina HS (Arizona State University)
Ryan Bradley, Grand Rapids Catholic Central HS
Trent Wismer, Detroit Catholic Central HS
Eric Herringer, Regis Jesuit HS
Kiel Osterman, Palmer Ridge HS
Ryan Shaver contributed to this report.
Nick McAndrews can be reached at email@example.com.