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Northern State football adds 13 transfers

Northern State University head coach Mike Schmidt announced the addition of 13 transfer student-athletes to his 2024 roster today. Matthew Baker (Rochester, Ill.), Jeremy Caruso (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), Jarel Coleman (Tustin, Calif.), Tom Ellard (Melbourne, Australia), Zach Jorgensen (Fairmont, Minn.), Sam Logoai (Nuuuli, American Samoa), Matt Ouellette (Reno, Nev.), Jacob Romero (Honolulu, Hawaii), Cody Smidt (Buffalo Center, Iowa), Gavin Smith (Gretna, Neb.), Javonnee Szymanski (Green Bay, Wis.), Zac Thielges (Lamoure, N.D.), and Ty Wiley (Columbus, Ohio) recently opened the spring semester with the Wolves.

“We have a commitment to fostering a winning culture,” noted Schmidt. “Recognizing the value of both homegrown players and external talent, this group of transfer players was handpicked for their exceptional abilities, proven track records, and unquestionable potential. More importantly, these individuals are the right people and students for our locker room. We really wanted to protect our locker room with this group, and I think we made a strong culture even stronger.”

Matthew Baker – DE, 6-4, 225, Rochester, Ill. / Rochester HS / Murray State

Matthew Baker is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end out of Rochester High School and Murray State. As a prep, Baker was a 2-time all-conference performer and all-state honoree. He won two Illinois State Championships. Baker played one season at Murray State racking up 20 tackles, 2.0 tackles for a loss, and two quarterback hurries. He is the son of Cindy and Brian Baker.

Jeremy Caruso – K, 5-11, 180, Wesley Chapel, Fla. / Wiregrass Ranch / Minot State

Jeremy Caruso is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound kicker out of Wiregrass Ranch and Minot State. As a prep, Caruso tallied the school record long, a 48-yard field goal in the fall of 2022. In addition, he was an all-conference kicker for the Bulls under the direction of head coach Mark Kantor. Caruso played one season at Minot State going 5-for-7 in field goal attempts with a 44-yard long. He is the son of Laura and Mike Caruso.

Jarel Coleman – DB, 6-2, 200, Tustin, Calif. / Beckman HS / Saddleback College

Jarel Coleman is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive back out of Beckman High School and Saddleback College. As a prep, Coleman was a 2-year starter and team captain for the Patriots. He tallied 106 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries: earning All-Conference accolades as a senior. In the fall of 2023, Coleman tallied 12 tackles in ten games played for the Bobcats. He notched 1.0 tackle for a loss and one pass break-up. He is the son of Crystal Fox and James Coleman.

Tom Ellard – P, 6-0, 170, Melbourne, Australia / Seda / Western Kentucky

Tom Ellard is a 6-foot, 170-pound punter out of Melbourne, Australia. Ellard played one season at Western Kentucky in the fall of 2022 before joining the Wolves. He was named an All-American honorable mention selection, all-conference team member, and all-freshman team honoree. WKU won the New Orleans Bowl in 2022. He appeared in 13 games in 2022, punting for 1,824 yards, averaging 42.4 yards per punt. He is the son of Wayne and Vivienne Ellard.

Zach Jorgensen – WR, 6-3, 195, Fairmont, Minn. / Fairmont HS / Minnesota

Zach Jorgensen is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver out of Fairmont High School and the University of Minnesota. As a prep, Jorgensen tallied back-to-back all-conference honors in his final two seasons. Primarily played quarterback in high school passing for over 3000 career yards. He averaged over 200 yards per game in his final season and led the Cardinals to the AAA State Tournament. He is the son of Mark and Jen Jorgensen.

Sam Logoai – LB, 6-1, 210, Nuuuli, American Samoa / Tafuna HS / Feather River College

Sam Logoai is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker out of Tafuna High School and Feather River College. As a prep, the American Samoa native was a starter and team captain for the Warriors. He was honored on the JPS All-Star team following an island championship by THS. Logoai played two seasons at Feather River, racking up 60 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles, two sacks, and one interception. He is the son of Samatua and Usolelei Logoai. 

Matt Ouellette – OL, 6-3, 305, Reno. Nev. / Reno HS / American River College

Matthew Ouellette is a 6-foot-3, 305-pound offensive lineman out of Reno High School and American River College. As a prep, Ouellette was a 3-year starter and team captain for the Huskies. He earned all-region first team honors in the fall of 2022. Ouellette played one season at ARC and tallied first team All-NorCal accolades. He is the son of Michael and Carri Ouellette.

Jacob Romero – DB, 5-10, 180, Honolulu, Hawaii / Bishop Manogue Catholic / Lincoln University

Jacob Romero is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound defensive back out of Bishop Manogue and Lincoln University. As a prep, he tallied 72 total tackles, including 49 solo stops, and three interceptions. In 2019 he garnered all-conference honors. Romero played collegiately at the University of Mary and Lincoln University. He is the son of Ray and Maria Romero.

Cody Smidt – DL, 6-0, 275, Buffalo Center, Iowa / North Iowa HS / Iowa Central CC

Cody Smidt is a 6-foot, 275-pound defensive lineman out of North Iowa High School and Iowa Central. As a prep, Smidt was a 3-year starter for the Bison under the direction of head coach Brad Kemnitz. He tallied 112.5 tackles, including 65 solo stops. Smidt was a 2-time all-conference honorable mention selection. He played two seasons at Iowa Central, recording 24 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. In 2022, Smidt was named to the ICCAC All-Conference honorable mention team. He is the son of Heather and Trent Smidt.

Gavin Smith – OL, 6-4, 205, Gretna, Neb. / Reeds Spring HS / Central Missouri

Gavin Smith is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound offensive lineman out of Reeds Spring High School and Central Missouri. As a prep, Smith was a starter for the RSHS Wolves under the direction of head coach Andy McFarland. He was a member of the Gretna High School state championship team in 2021. Reeds Spring finished as the runner-up in 2022. Redshirting in the fall of 2023, Smith was a member of the MIAA Champion Central Missouri Mules. He is the son of Sean and Julie Smith and brother of Colt Smith.

Javonnee Szymanski – DB, 6-4, 220, Green Bay, Wis. / Southwest HS / Iowa Western CC

Javonnee Szymanski is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound defensive back out of Southwest High School and Iowa Western Community College. As a prep, he was a 3-year starter and team captain for the Trojans, earning all-conference accolades in 2019-20. Szymanski was a starter for IWCC winning back-to-back national championships. In the fall of 2023, Szymanski recorded 22 tackles and one interception. He is the son of Angelina Szymanski.

Zac Thielges – OL, 6-4, 300, Lamoure, N.D. / Lamoure HS / Minot State

Zac Thielges is a 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman out of Lamoure High School and Minot State University. As a prep, Thielges was a 4-year starter and team captain for the Loboes. He was a member of the 9-man all-region team and participated in the 2020 Shrine Bowl. He is the son of Toby and Krista Thielges.

Ty Wiley – WR, 6-0, 175, Columbus, Ohio / Pickerington North HS / Ohio Dominican

Ty Wiley is a 6-foot, 175-pound wide receiver out of Pickerington North High School and Ohio Dominican. As a prep, Wiley was a 3-year starter and team captain for the Panthers. He recorded over 3,400 career receiving yards with 37 touchdowns. Wiley was a 2-time all-conference and all-district selection, as well as an all-state and all-metro pick his senior year. At ODU, Wiley tallied 1,189 yards receiving and ten touchdowns in 29 games played. He led the team in 2023 with 52 receptions and 691 yards, averaging 13.3 yards per catch and 62.8 yards per game. Wiley was a GMAC first team All-Conference selection in 2023. He is the son of Lynn Wiley and Brandi Hornsburger.

Schmidt added, “NSU football strives to be the pinnacle of football excellence. The addition of these transfer players will generate intense competition within the squad and push our existing players to reach even greater heights. Transfers aren’t added to replace. They’re added to enhance. We wholeheartedly welcome these talented individuals to our family.”

The Northern State University football team will announce their 2024 high school signing class next Wednesday, February 7. As a part of the national signing day festivities, NSU Athletics will host the annual signing day part from Lager’s Inn that evening. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public with food provided. Stop in and learn more about the 2024 class, including the 13 transfers listed above.