College football’s first early signing period ended on Friday, and Idaho State University was one of several programs to ink recruits to scholarships during the three-day span.
ISU signed nine players this week, and two of them played the same position for the same Magic Valley high school.
Gooding High School linebackers Sam Funkhouser and Ruger Jennings both signed with the Bengals on Wednesday. The seniors mirrored each other in both size and performance throughout their high school careers, which ended in a loss to Snake River in the 3A state semifinals last month.
Of the two, only Jennings played in that semifinal game. Funkhouser suffered a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 5 against Filer.
“He’s still recovering,” ISU head coach Rob Phenicie said this week, via the Idaho State Journal. “We’ll see where he is when camp starts.”
Funkhouser and Jennings were both named to the 3A All-Idaho first team as juniors, but Funkhouser’s injury took him out of the running this past season. Jennings, on the other hand, earned first-team all-state honors for the third straight year. He was also named the 2017 Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference defensive player of the year after compiling 133 tackles and 28 tackles for loss.
“Him and Sam Funkhouser are the two guys that we kind of want to build our program with: Idaho guys that love football,” Phenicie said via the Journal. “They’re both from a smaller town. They turned down advances by other (schools).”
Funkhouser and Jennings are two of seven ISU early signees who will be freshmen in the fall of 2018. The other two — offensive tackle Preston Holfeltz and safety Christian McFarland — are junior college transfers. Two of the nine signees will not be announced until National Signing Day (Feb. 7, 2018).
The Bengals plan to sign nine more recruits by National Signing Day, per the Journal, for a total of 18 signees in the 2018 class.
Phenicie is preparing for his second season as ISU’s head coach, but he has held the position for just nine months. He replaced Mike Kramer, who retired in March after six seasons with the Bengals.