St. Thomas Athletics recently reached another milestone in its unprecedented transition to the NCAA's national stage. The Tommies' football program participated in its first-ever National Signing Day last Wednesday, the opening day of the three-day December signing period. In all, 26 student-athletes, from eight states, received a warm welcome from Coach Glenn Caruso.
“We’ve learned from the process of building our program over the last 12 years, that our foundation is built with having the right type of young men,” Caruso said. “We were able to balance both a very strong local presence with nearly half of the class from Minnesota, continue our strong relationships in areas like Chicago, Wisconsin and Iowa and expand into new areas across the country.”
The signees will play in the Pioneer Football League next fall, when the Tommies become the first modern Division-III NCAA program to transition directly to Division-I competition. Starting in the 2021-22 academic year, 19 of 22 Tommie sports will compete in the 10-team Summit League. Women’s Hockey will compete in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) women’s league, while the men’s hockey team will join the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).
St. Thomas’ 2021 football signing class features 12 Minnesotans, including a pair ranked among the state’s top 32 prospects by 247 Sports. It also includes four of the 26 Twin Cities-area seniors who received KARE 11-TV Preseason All-Metro honors this fall. The signees also include five players from Illinois and Nevada.
The signing class earned an average GPA of 3.60 and brings a variety of talents on and off the field. The group includes:
- a fluent Chinese speaker
- a math and science wizard who has mastered Rubik’s Cube strategies as well as the sport of archery
- a player with diverse interests in martial arts and rebuilding motorcycles
- a school-record setting hurdler in track and field
- a player whose dad was a standout Tommie athlete
- a multi-sport athlete who co-created a podcast on pop-culture
St. Thomas has an opportunity to consider additional players. Uncommitted players can still sign during Division I’s second signing period in February.
With 11 universities from 10 states, the Pioneer Football League is the lone coast-to-coast conference in college football. Other Pioneer members are San Diego; Drake (Iowa); Butler (Indiana); Valparaiso (Indiana); Dayton (Ohio); Morehead (Ky.); Marist (N.Y.); Davidson (N.C.); Presbyterian (S.C.); and Stetson (Fla.).
In 12 seasons under Caruso, the Tommies have placed second in NCAA Division III, in 2012 and 2015 while winning 86 percent of its games. The Tommies have won or shared seven of the last 10 conference championships and earned eight or more victories for a school-record out of 11 consecutive seasons.