Former Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad was one of six FBS transfers added during the February signing period by Illinois State and head coach Brock Spack. (Photo by GoRedbirds.com)
By Dan Verdun
While the bulk of Illinois State’s 2022 recruiting class was signed in December, Wednesday’s National Signing Day may hold the spark to last fall’s lackluster offense.
Former University of Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad was one of six FBS transfers that ISU head coach Brock Spack and his staff landed in the February round of signings. Four of the transfers play on offense.
Annexstad, listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, earned the starting quarterback nod in his walk-on freshman season of 2018. Annexstad made seven starts for head coach PJ Fleck’s Golden Gophers before injuries took their toll the second half of the season.
Annexstad — who prepped at IMG Academy in Florida — missed the 2019 season after suffering a foot injury in training camp. He saw no game action in 2020 and limited time in 2021.
According to SaturdayTradition.com, “Annexstad entered the (transfer) portal shortly after (Minnesota starting QB) Tanner Morgan announced he would be returning for the 2022 season.”
Annexstad, whose hometown in Norseland, Minn., has two years of eligibility remaining. He passed for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns at Minnesota while completing 52 percent of his throws. He was intercepted seven times.
Illinois State averaged only 124.8 passing yards and 18.4 points per game last fall, when the Redbirds stumbled to a 4-7 record (2-6 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference).
Opening day starter Bryce Jefferson was plagued by injuries and transferred to the Division II University of Indianapolis after the season. Freshman Jackson Warring took over in Jefferson’s absence. The two combined for a 51.8 completion percentage.
“We needed an older guy. We focused in on him and we got him. He’s played in big games. We thought that was very important,” Spack told The Pantagraph.
The rest of the transfers
Joining Annexstad are two offensive linemen, a wide receiver, a defensive back and a defensive lineman.
Spack is counting on Dominic Collado — listed at 6-foot-3, 325 pounds — and Jake Pope — listed at 6-foot-7, 300 pounds — to bolster the Redbird offensive line.
Collado, who prepped at Crystal Lake South, transferred from Miami (Ohio); Pope transferred from Kentucky. Neither lineman saw game action at his previous school.
Jerome Buckner joins ISU from Ohio University. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound receiver had 29 catches for 447 yards over three seasons while playing in the Mid-American Conference. His best year came in 2019 when Buckner hauled in 18 balls for 326 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive back Larry Tracy III appeared in 14 games and made one solo tackle in two seasons for the University of Indiana. The Indianapolis native is listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds.
Defensive lineman Jake Siegal, 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, was a preferred walk-on at Washington State in 2019 out of Sycamore, Ill. He has no collegiate game experience entering Illinois State.
ISU also announced the addition of three walk-ons: Camden Maas (Normal Community High School), Cal Martinez (Appleton, Wisc.) and Tye Niekamp, the son of Redbird defensive coordinator Travis Niekamp (Normal Community).