Page 1

SEPTEMBER 2021

CHRISTIAN WATSON

C O M P L I M E N TA RY

HUNTER LUEPKE

MICHAEL TUTSIE

FALL FOOTBALL IS BACK! And the herd is ready to roll!


CONTENTS

34

COVER STORY 17

FALL FOOTBALL IS BACK!

09/2021

60

77

FEATURES 48

RECURRING

2021 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

8 Editor’s Note 66 Calendar

52

VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW

70 Team Makers 74 Schmidty’s Slant

56

SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORES

60

LEADERS IN THE CLUBHOUSE

62

2021 MEN’S AND WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY SCHEDULE

76 Swany Says

18 Matt Entz Q&A 23 Randy Hedberg Q&A 24 Tyler Roehl Q&A 25 David Braun Q&A 26 Joe Beschorner Q&A 33 Christian Watson Q&A 44 Jackson Hankey Q&A

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1

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FROM BRADY DRAKE

Fall Sports Are Back!


F

all sports are back. Tailgating is back. Championship expectations are back. Those sentences should be music to the eyes of anyone reading this magazine. Along with the ‘comeback’ of fall sports comes the return of championship expectations for North Dakota’s favorite football team. I’m sure most North Dakota State players will tell you that last year’s 7-3 season which ended in a quarterfinal loss to Sam Houston State, was a disappointment. However, I believe the spring season was perhaps one of the more impressive seasons in recent

FROM THE EDITOR

memory for the Bison. The team dealt with injuries, transfers, inexperience and the stress of the COVID Pandemic, but still managed to beat four top 25 teams during the course of the spring season, coming within a few plays of a 10th straight trip to the FCS semifinals. What’s more, those young players that were prematurely thrust into roles during the spring now have real experience under their belt and should be all the more confident and ready to contribute to NDSU’s return to dominance on the gridiron.

Yes, there are questions at the quarterback position, but there is talent there and the Bison are absolutely loaded at every other position. Fall sports are back and I, like you, am excited to see NDSU make its way back to the top of the FCS.


SEPTEMBER 2021 | VOLUME 16 ISSUE 5 Bison Illustrated is a free publication distributed monthly (8 times a year). Our mission is to help promote North Dakota State University Athletics, provide a quality and fun reading experience and to improve the way of life in our community. The publication is mailed to homes across the US and has newsstand distribution throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.

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FALL FOOTBALL IS BACK! And the herd is ready to roll! 17


HILLARY EHLEN

MATT

HEAD COACH

The Veteran Leadership We've got a couple of sixthyear seniors on the team that are extremely invested in the product, the culture and the daily environment that we're trying to create. But, we have a lot of other great young men as well who are doing a lot of great things not only on the football field but in the locker room, meeting rooms and off campus as well to make sure we're going to be in a great situation going into game number one. On the Offense On the offensive line, we have a number of guys back that played in the spring. They're going to give us some added depth and I'm really excited about their development and their weight gain and confidence. In the wide receiver room, whenever you can add

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guys back like Zach Mathis and Phoenix Sproles, that's a shot in the arm. Some of the guys that have been jumping out to me include Bryce Lance who has grown two inches since his recruiting visit, Tyler Terhark from West Fargo who is 210 lbs of confidence now. At the running back position, we moved Mitchell Kartes from linebacker to running back. Anyone who follows Minnesota high school football knows that a few years ago, Mitch ran for about 1,000 yards


ENTZ in his first four games of the season and was probably on his way to being Mr. Football in the state. Unfortunately, he had an ACL tear. It's taken him a while to bounce back. We moved him to linebacker originally and he's helped us on special teams. He'll continue to help us immensely on special teams, but he has added some great depth at the running back spot and he's probably a little more natural at that spot. Barika Kpeenu, another young man from West Fargo Sheyenne, has been a great addition to our program. Tamerik Williams has picked up and really learned what we are doing in six days. He has outstanding pass protection which is an extremely critical piece. He's a big back and you can see his development and comfort level grow every day. All of the kids

are highly competitive. Kobe Johnson has gotten healthy to the point where you can see another gear. Dominic Gonnella has a lot of confidence in the offense. Jalen Bussey was voted by our team to be on the leadership council and is maybe one of the youngest players ever to be on that. We might have the greatest depth in the tight end/fullback room. We have Hunter Luepke, Josh Babicz, Noah Gindorff, Joe Stoffel and Travis Yohnke. They all just continue to develop. They're outstanding players and great leaders. Luepke provides a number of skillsets that will allow us to use him in a number of different ways this fall. I look forward to seeing how we can take advantage of his athleticism. He's down about 12-14 lbs

from where he was in the spring and I think that has only made him a greater weapon. We need to be more efficient in red zone and 3rd down situations. We can't turn the ball over like we did in the spring. Those are three areas that we are going to continue to push and harp on to a point where our kids are probably exhausted with it. On the Defense On the defensive line, we have a ton of depth and that's always good. Anyone who has come and watched us play knows that we're going to play 8-10 guys upfront. Some guys that have jumped out to me have been Will Mostaert and Eli Mostaert, both have huge upside and are only scratching the surface of

where they can be. Our senior depth and our leaders are back; Spencer Waege, Tony Pierce and Brayden Thomas. Logan McCormick has been one of the best leaders we have. Costner Ching is a blue collar kid who is going to play extremely hard. Lane Tucker has done great things for us. Javier Derritt has started to show some explosiveness. This is where Jaxon Duttenhefer is supposed to be, he fits in here. I'm really excited that he is here because he is going to have a huge upside for us. A sleeper is Cole Menz, another West Fargo product. He doesn't say two words to you all day long but he has a motor and can play and I love the fact that he's a bison. The linebacker position is something we have to continue to develop.

19


MATT ENTZ’S RESUME 1998:

2009:

Illinois College Defensive Coordinator

Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

1999: Wayne State Assistant Head Coach/ Linebackers

2000: Wayne State Assistant Head Coach/ Linebackers

Northern Iowa Defensive Line

2011: 1Northern Iowa Defensive Line

2001:

2012:

Wayne State Assistant Head Coach/ Linebackers

Northern Iowa Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Line

2002:

2013:

Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Line

2003:

Western Illinois - Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line

Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Line

North Dakota State Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2014:

2004:

2015:

Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Line

North Dakota State Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2005:

North Dakota State Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2006: Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2007:

2016:

2017: North Dakota State Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2018: North Dakota State Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2019:

2008:

North Dakota State Head Coach

Winona State Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

20

2010:

North Dakota State Head Coach

2020: 2021: North Dakota State Head Coach

BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1

Oscar Benson has shown outstanding improvement from the spring. So has Nick Kubitz. Logan Kopp, a true freshman, has seemed to pick up the scheme a little bit. Luke Weerts continues to put himself in a position where we need to find ways to play him. He's a young man that had a ton of athleticism when he got here but didn't really understand the communication part of the game. Now, if you go out to practice, he looks like he's directing traffic. He does such a good job of getting guys in the right place. In the secondary, Michael Tutsie, Dawson Weber and Dom Jones are all outstanding at the safety position. Julian Wlodarczyk has also done an outstanding job. He has even played some Sam linebacker for us at times. Position flexibility allows you to have greater purpose for the Bison. At cornerback, we've got Destin Talbert and Jayden Price. In the spring, Courtney Eubanks played very

well at the end of the season. He has picked that up and he is a very confident young man. We need to continue to work with Jerrod Vines and Marques Sigle needs to continue to develop, but both have potential to play for us. Defensively, we have to tackle better. If we tackle better, we'll shore up a lot of our issues. We also have to find ways to create takeaways defensively and get the ball back to our offense. When our offense is able to have the ball for 30 plus minutes, the Bison tend to perform pretty well. On the Quarterbacks I'm learning that both Quincy Patterson and Cam Miller are extremely competitive. They both have very positive skillsets that can help us win games. As of right now, we don't have a one and two. There is no leader in the clubhouse right now. They both have things that they need to work on and we haven't had a big enough sample size.


RANDY HEDBERG Where’s the quarterback situation at right now? (Interview conducted on August 12.) Right now, we have good competition amongst Cam Miller and Quincy Patterson. We have a couple young guys that are pushing them a little bit, but those two have the most experience. Cam is coming back after playing a number of games in the spring for us. Quincy was with us in the spring, but didn’t get a chance to play any games for us. We’ll probably make a decision here in another week or two on who is going to be the starter. What are some of their strengths? Cam brings back experience. He has played in our offense. He knows what we’re doing. Quincy is still learning our offense but I think he’s getting better each week and each day. What did Cam show you last year as far as resiliency and toughness? He was thrust into a big role as a true freshman. He was thrust into a role that he probably shouldn’t have

been in as a first-year guy, especially at the quarterback position. But I thought he handled it well. He learned and he, I think, gained some confidence that he could play at this level and win games for the Bison because he won some big games for us. We have to get the quarterbacks to another level to win more big games and all but I think that’s the biggest thing he took away is just the experience and some confidence. What does it mean to you as a coach to see a guy like Trey Lance get the opportunity to be drafted as highly as he did? It’s a proud moment. I’ve been very fortunate working with the quarterbacks that we’ve had here at NDSU. Trey really grew a lot as a player. He has really earned all of it. He has put himself in the position he is in because of hard work and a nose-tothe-grindstone type work ethic. I’m very proud of that fact.

HILLARY EHLEN

ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH AND PASSING GAME COORDINATOR

RANDY HEDBERG’S RESUME 1982-1990: Minot State - Head Coach

1990-1998: Central Missouri - Offensive Coordinator/ Quarterbacks and Receivers

1999-2007: St. Cloud State - Head Coach

2008-2013: Southern Illinois Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks

2014-2018: North Dakota State - Quarterbacks

2019-2021: North Dakota State - Associate Head Coach/ Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks

23


HILLARY EHLEN

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

TYLER ROEHL So this will be your third season as offensive coordinator. As you’ve taken those past two seasons and learned from them, how do you go about setting goals and expectations for the offense going into the year and how does that look different from maybe what you’ve done in the past? I think you always need to adapt and with your changing personell. However, the goals for us don’t change. One of our goals is to always lead the FCS in team effort and physicality.

TYLER ROEHL’S RESUME 2010: Concordia College - Running Backs 2011: North Dakota State Offensive Assistant

2012-2013: Moorhead High School - Defensive Coordinator/Running Backs

2014-2018: North Dakota State - Tight Ends and Fullbacks

2019-2021: North Dakota State - Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends and Fullbacks

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Obviously the games always changing and there are different trends throughout football. Where do you find inspiration? From season to season and week to week? I think you always will have a core belief in what you’re going to do. I go around to the rest of the staff and ask them what they think our top schemes in the run game are, what the top schemes in the pass game, what the top schemes in the quick pass game are and what the top schemes are in the drop back pass game as well. We wrote those down and we really want to rely heavily on those schemes. When I had time in the summer and had time over quarantine in my COVID, I had the chance to talk to a number of coordinators and head coaches at the FBS level

and learn they’re doing and what they’ve done wrong. I really really like what the 49ers do offensively. Ironically, that’s where Trey Lance ended up. I’m really not surprised that the offense you really like at the NFL level is one that utilizes a fullback in a bunch of different ways. For them it’s Kyle Juszczyk, for you it’s Hunter Luepke. How unique is Luepke’s skillset. You could probably go to any person on our team or on our staff and ask, “who’s are the three to five most complete football players on the team.” I think every single one of them would have Hunter on their list. He was a two-time state champion. He’s extremely competitive, he’s strong, he’s physical and he gives great effort. He’s everything you want in football player. He’s athletic. He scored a high number of touchdowns in high school from the running back position. He can be in line as a tight end. He can be in the backfield as a fullback. He can be in the backfield as a tailback. He could be a lead blocker in obviously. He can be a solid receiver. He could play anything on offense besides quarterback or line. But if he asked him to play on the offensive line, he would love to do it and I’m serious.


Now, what do you see as some of the defensive strengths being this year? I think we have a ton of depth on the defensive line. I’m really excited about the leadership in that room. There are also so many players in our linebacker room that are ready to take the next step and really emerge as highly productive players for us. We’re returning guys like James Kazcor, Jackson Hankey and Jasir Cox. In the defensive backfield, I’m really excited to see how what was a youthful group in the spring, matures heading into the fall. A lot of those young players really got an opportunity to play last year because of injuries, transfers and whatnot. What did that do for them as far as their development? How do you think that’ll help them moving forward? I think in a lot of ways it expedited their development. Practice reps are great preparation but game reps are just different. There’s different stress levels, there’s more on the line and you really can’t find out how you’ll react to some of those things until you’re put in those situations.

Coach Entz talked a lot in his opening press conference about the importance of improving the team’s tackling from the spring. As we head into a new season, is there anything new that you guys were implementing from a practice perspective or is it really just about honing in on those fundamentals that you had already been practicing? I think it’s really about the fundamentals. It’s about holding guys accountable. We want to practice the right way to get ourselves in body positions that are conducive to being successful tacklers in game situations. As a staff, we went back and re-evaluated some of our practice habits. They probably weren’t up to snuff, and as a coaching staff, we identified those areas where we were lacking and tried to return to an emphasis on fundamentals.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR/ SAFETIES HILLARY EHLEN

DAVID BRAUN

BRAUN’S COACHING RESUME 2008-2009: Winona State - Graduate Assistant

2010: Culver-Stockton - Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2011-2014: Winona State - Co-Defensive Coordinator/ Linebackers

2015-2016: UC Davis - Defensive Line

2017: Northern Iowa - Run Game Coordinator/ Defensive Line

2018: Northern Iowa - Special Teams Coordinator/ Outside Linebackers

2019-2021: North Dakota State - Defensive Coordinator/ Safeties

25


JOSIAH KOPP

JOE BESCHORNER Your first season with the football program came last season. However, this is your first time being introduced to the Bison Illustrated readers... NDSU has had a very stable culture and a stable coaching staff. But, obviously, every coach brings a little something different to the table. What are some unique things that you have tried to emphasize with your group?

weaknesses are. Then, we work to fit them into the game plan and it’ll change every week, depending on who we’re playing and what they do. Obviously, Jalen Bussey is a threat to score any time he touches the ball. He has great speed. Same thing with Kobe Johnson. Dominic Gonnella is kind of in between. He’s got good speed and can run between the tackles and get his pads down.

I think that I’ve always felt like it’s important to teach the big picture and show them how they fit into the big picture. That way they don’t just know what to do, but why we’re doing what we’re doing and how it benefits everyone. I don’t know if that was done before, but that’s just kind of my style.

What does that uncommon amount of running back depth do for you as a coach?

In the running back room, you seem to have a bunch of guys that each bring a little something different to the table. What do you see their specialties being? I think that they’re a little bit different. They all have different styles and they all have different strengths. They all have different weaknesses. Right now, Tamerik Williams is new to the group and we’ve got some other new faces to the group as well. In fall camp, we really try to hone in on what these guys’ strengths and

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Well, the better players you have, the better coach you are. But we want to have fresh horses, fresh horses run faster. We want to make sure that we’re doing a great job being as productive as we can as a group. It’s a lot of fun to have all those different guys that have a bunch of different styles and strengths that are committed to being productive as a group.

RUNNING BACKS COACH

JOE’S RESUME 2000-2001: Minnesota State Mankato Graduate Assistant

2002: Minnesota State Mankato Running Backs

2003-2007: South Dakota - Running Backs

2008-2014: Simpson - Offensive Coordinator

2015-2019: Minnesota State Mankato Offensive Coordinator

2020-2021: North Dakota State - Running Backs


THE SIGNAL CALLERS

A year of experience and a couple of fresh faces highlight the Bison quarterback room heading into 2021.

#7

CAM MILLER Sophomore Solon, Iowa

#15

COLE PAYTON Freshman Omaha, Nebraska

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#2

JOSIAH KOPP

QUINCY PATTERSON Junior Chicago, Illinois


THE PLAYMAKERS

NDSU’s group of explosive wide receivers.

#1

CHRISTIAN WATSON Senior Tampa, Florida

#12

BRAYLON HENDERSON Sophomore Wylie, Texas

*Watson was recently named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1


#11

PHOENIX SPROLES Senior New Hope, Minnesota

(Not Pictured) #17 RAJA NELSON Sophomore Lakeville, Minnesota

JOSIAH KOPP

(Not Pictured) #0 ZACH MATHIS Junior Tampa, Florida


Q & A

WITH CHRISTIAN WATSON

Last season, you earned All American honors as a return specialist, how does that help your game on the offensive side of the ball? If I have a big return, it definitely helps us offensively by improving our field position. Personally, I think it helps me get in a bit of rhythm. Any time I'm doing well in any aspect of the game, it helps me stay positive and perform well in other aspects of the game. Was there anything, in particular, this offseason that you really tried to hone in on or develop as part of your craft? I would say there were a bunch of fine details. Some of the things I worked on was stuff at the top of my route and catch radius stuff. I think I definitely got better at a lot of things this past summer including getting out of my breaks quicker. The last time you guys played a fall season, the receiver room was one of the youngest rooms on the team. This year, you guys have quite a bit more experience. What has changed with that veteran experience? I think we all just kind of stepped into a bigger leadership role and the team kind of matured a bit. We've grown closer to each other. We all know what each of us is good at which really helps us flow a little better as an offense when the play is called. What does it mean to be named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List? It's exciting, for sure. I'm honored to be on it but it's not something that I'm really, worried about. I'm worried about the season ahead of us. My goal is to be one of the best out there, not only for myself but for the team.

33


THE 5-HEADED MONSTER Each back brings a little something different to the table. However, every single one is dangerous with the ball in their hands.

#22

TAMERIK WILLIAMS Junior Angleton, Texas

#44 JOSIAH KOPP

HUNTER LUEPKE Junior Spencer, Wisconsin

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1


#4

KOBE JOHNSON Junior Lawrenceville, Georgia

#29

DOMINIC GONNELLA Sophomore Riverview, Florida

#21

JALEN BUSSEY Sophomore Brandon, Florida


THE RAMS #72

JALEN SUNDELL Junior Maryville, Missouri

#66

NASH JENSEN Senior Maple Grove, Minnesota

#70

CODY MAUCH Senior Hankinson, North Dakota

#67

CORDELL VOLSON Senior Balfour, North Dakota

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1


NDSU's road graders are back and ready to lead a rushing attack that ranked 10th in the FCS last season in yards per game.

#74

JOSIAH KOPP

GREY ZABEL Sophomore Pierre, South Dakota


THE TWIN TOWERS

The Bison tight ends are highlighted by the experienced, dynamic and hardnosed tandem of Josh Babicz and Noah Gindorff.

#87

JOSIAH KOPP

NOAH GINDORFF Senior Crosby, Minnesota

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1

#81

JOSH BABICZ Senior Barrington, Illinois


THE PASS AND RUN #92

LANE TUCKER Senior Gillette, Wyoming

#98

BRAYDEN THOMAS Senior Bismarck, North Dakota

#93 JOSIAH KOPP

LOGAN MCCORMICK Senior Appleton, Wisconsin

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1


RUSHERS STUFFERS

'Depth' is the keyword for Code Green's top-notch defensive front.

#99

SPENCER WAEGE Senior South Shore, South Dakota

#53

ELI MOSTAERT Sophomore Lakeville, Minnesota

(Not Pictured) #90 TONY PIERCE Junior Lake Alfred, Florida (Not Pictured) #91 WILL MOSTAERT Sophomore Lakeville, Minnesota

41


THE HEADHUNTERS

As always, NDSU boasts a stellar linebacking core.

#3

JASIR COX Senior Kansas City, Missouri

#26

JAMES KACZOR Senior St. Cloud, Minnesota

#52

JACKSON HANKEY Senior Park River, North Dakota

#31

COLE WISNIEWSKI Sophomore Sparta, Wisconsin

*Hankey was the only FCS linebacker named to the recently released Butkus Award Watch List.

JOSIAH KOPP

(Not Pictured) #47 LUKE WEERTS Junior Batavia, Illinois

43


Q & A

WITH JACKSON HANKEY

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BISON ILLUSTRATED S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1

So NDSU has a really strong linebacking tradition. How do you, as a leader and upperclassman on the team, work to ensure that that tradition continues with the younger guys? That’s definitely a challenge at times. I think a big part of it is, like you said, the fact that we’ve had tremendous linebackers here in the past. We’ve had very good defenses here in the past. So we know what the standard that has been set is. Now, it’s just our job to try and live up to it. I guess for me that means doing the best I can to model it myself. I also try to encourage and challenge the younger players to be where they need to be to grow and improve. What were you focused on over the offseason, as far as trying to build your game and improve it? I’d say the biggest focus for me was getting stronger. I spent a lot of time over the summer, trying to build strength and trying to build flexibility. Trying to improve physically in the game was definitely my biggest offseason focus. You were the only FCS linebacker named to the watch list for the Butkus Award. Did that mean anything to you? That meant a lot. I was definitely surprised at first, when I found out I was named to it. Honestly, it was probably a little hard to believe especially thinking about where I came from coming into this

program. It makes me feel extremely grateful, extremely fortunate and extremely blessed to be where I am today. Football is a fast game and from play to play, things happen in the game. Missed tackles and missed assignments happen. How do you hit the reset button when you make a mistake? First, I think the priority should always be the team winning and not my own performance. Second, I think it’s very important to be grounded in things outside of football. I try not to let my performance on the football field dictate my value or how I value myself as a person.


THE BALLHAWKS A mix of experience and youth highlights a hungry secondary for NDSU.

#25

MICHAEL TUTSIE Safety, Senior Indianapolis, Indiana

#18

(Not Pictured) #5 JERODD VINES Junior Detroit, Michigan

COURTNEY EUBANKS Cornerback, Sophomore St. Petersburg, Florida

JOSIAH KOPP

(Not Pictured) #23 JAYDEN PRICE Junior Derby, Kansas

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#10

DOM JONES Safety, Sophomore Duluth, Georgia

#2

DAWSON WEBER Safety, Senior Elk Grove, California

#6

DESTIN TALBERT Cornerback, Senior Darien, Illinois


2021

Football Schedule SEPTEMBER 4 • 2:30 P.M

VS. ALBANY FARGO, N.D.

SEPTEMBER 11 • 2:30 P.M

VS. VALPARAISO FARGO, N.D.

SEPTEMBER 18 • 5 P.M

VS. TOWSON TOWSON, MD.

OCTOBER 2 • 2 P.M

VS. NORTH DAKOTA GRAND FORKS, N.D. OCTOBER 9 • 1 P.M

VS. NORTHERN IOWA FARGO, N.D.

OCTOBER 16 • 2 P.M

VS. ILLINOIS STATE NORMAL, ILL.

OCTOBER 23 • 2:30 P.M

VS. MISSOURI STATE FARGO, N.D.

OCTOBER 30 • 2:30 P.M

VS. INDIANA STATE GRAND FORKS, N.D.

NOVEMBER 6 • 2 P.M

VS. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE BROOKINGS, S.D.

NOVEMBER 13 • 11 A.M

VS. YOUNGTOWN STATE YOUNGTOWN, OHIO.

NOVEMBER 20 • 2:30 P.M

VS. SOUTH DAKOTA FARGO, N.D.

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Bison Cleats Field 50

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Football Herd Lance

NDSU Sack Stick

Touchdown Wentz


Jennifer Lopez, Head Coach Photos by Josiah Kopp

You had two transfers, Michelle Glover and Alexandria Hicks, come in from the same school, can you tell me how that played out? This spring, we were working to fill our roster and none of our seniors were going to come back, so we had to figure out what kind of positions we needed to fill and have depth with. We talked to Alexandria Hicks first as we were trying to fill that Opposite role. Then, Michelle's name came to us as we were deciding if we wanted to add another Middle to the group. This year, you're returning 10 players from last year's team. What does that do for this current team? The biggest thing is that we have experience now. The last couple of years, we've been very young. This year, we will still need some of our incoming players to step into big roles, but our returners add a lot of value and strength.

Fresh faces highlight the NDSU volleyball team coming off a winning spring season. 52

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What do you see from the Summitt League heading into the season? Our conference is going in a very good direction and getting a lot stronger. The level of play is continuing to increase. It's going to be tough in the conference for the next few years. A lot of our top opponents are returning a lot of players. Those matches are going to be a real challenge for us but a challenge in a good way that's continuing to raise our own level of play.


ali hinze,

Outside Hitter, Sophomore What is the difference between year 1 and year 2 for you? Last year, coming in as a freshman, teams didn't really know what to expect from me because they weren't able to scout me. Now, this year, teams are going to know what to expect from me. So, I need to be ready to change my game and know that teams are going to try to defend me. Last year, you really burst onto the scene, winning Summit League Freshman of the Year, and NDSU's Female Rookie of the Year across all sports. What were your expectations heading into the season? I didn't really see any of that happening, but once I started playing, I realized I really wanted to change this program. I wanted to help our team develop a winning mindset. So, I tried to do anything in my power to change the program. What'd that look like outside of in-game competition? I really tried to talk to my teammates and improve our volleyball IQs. I talked to them about what I was seeing on the court and made sure to take feedback from them as well on what they were seeing. I tried to watch film with our coach as much as possible and had meetings with teammates. I took my rehab very seriously.

What has the strength and conditioning program at NDSU done for you? I didn't lift very often in high school. Pushing weight in the weight room with our Strength and Conditioning coach, Jason Miller, has really helped take my game to the next level. My jumps are better and I'm stronger. What are you most excited about for the season? We have a lot of talent coming in with the freshman class. You could feel the energy change in the gym once they came in. Everybody is really just striving to get better.


2021 Women’s volleyball schedule SEPT 10

VS. BUTLER

BERKELEY, CALIF. (12 P.M. CT)

SEPT 10

VS. CAL

BERKELEY, CALIF. (9 P.M. CT)

SEPT 11

VS. NEVADA

BERKELEY, CALIF. (2 P.M. CT)

SEPT 17

VS. PORTLAND STATE

PORTLAND, ORE. (9 P.M. CT)

SEPT 18

VS. GONZAGA

PORTLAND, ORE. (1 P.M. CT)

SEPT 18

VS. PORTLAND STATE

PORTLAND, ORE. (9 P.M. CT)

SEPT 23

VS. KANSAS CITY

FARGO, N.D. (7 P.M)

CHECK THE ENTIRE SCHEDULE HERE:

HTTPS://GOBISON.COM/SPORTS/WOMENS-VOLLEYBALL/SCHEDULE/2021 54

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Speaking Your Business Language for Over 45 Years Ser ving the Upper Midwest

For ward Thinking. Reliable Advice. 701-237-6022 wr.cpa


JOSIAH KOPP

Battled tested, these sensational sophomores are ready to help the NDSU soccer team build off a successful spring season.

Olivia Lovick, Forward/Midfielder, Sophomore 56

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How did the COVID situation last year shape your perspective heading into this season?

that we talked about was working on finishing with both feet because I really favor my left foot a lot.

For me, going into the season this year is a lot more exciting because we get to play in front of our fans and our friends and family. It definitely feels a lot more real with the added travel we'll have this year. It feels like a real Division I soccer season.

What is a fun fact about yourself?

Having the season pushed from the fall to the spring last year really upset our team, but it made us work even harder and really prepared us going forward. You won some major accolades last season. What have you been working on to take your game to the next level? We have meetings with our coaches after the season and one thing

I played hockey all the way up until high school.


JOSIAH KOPP

You played a ton last year, did you expect that coming in? No, not at all. We train in a super competitive environment so any day could be your day to start or not to start. It really pushes us to continue getting better and to be consistent. I was nervous for a little bit, but eventually, it comes naturally and you can just play. The older girls were really great in helping us on and off the field.

Alicia Nead, Midfielder, Sophomore

What helped you kind of break those nerves? I would say probably my first touch on the ball or my first tackle. It definitely helped me get out of my head. What is a fun fact about yourself? I've broken eight fingers.


2021 Women’s

Soccer Schedule AUGUST 29 • 11 A.M/10 A.M. MT

VS. DIXIE STATE BOISE, IDAHO

SEPTEMBER 2 • 6 P.M

VS. WYOMING FARGO, N.D.

SEPTEMBER • 9 P.M

VS. CREIGHTON OMAHA, NEB.

SEPTEMBER 17 • 7 P.M

VS. MARQUETTE MILWAUKEE, WIS.

OCTOBER 1 • 6 P.M

VS. ORAL ROBERTS FARGO, N.D.

OCTOBER 3 • 1 P.M

VS. KANSAS CITY FARGO, N.D.

OCTOBER 10 • 1 P.M

VS. NORTH DAKOTA FARGO, N.D.

OCTOBER 15 • 6 P.M

VS. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE BROOKINGS, S.D.

OCTOBER 17 • 1 P.M

VS. SOUTH DAKOTA VERMILLION, S.D.

OCTOBER 22 • 6 P.M

VS. OMAHA FARGO, N.D.

CHECK THE ENTIRE SCHEDULE HERE:

HTTPS://GOBISON.COM/SPORTS/WOMENS-SOCCER/SCHEDULE 59


LEADERS IN THE CLUBHOUSE Taylor Mccorkle junior oregon, wisconsin

Last year, your team posted the 11th highest GPA in Division I, how do you, as a group, work to create that culture and create that level of success? The first important aspect in that is that our coach tries to recruit really good students. That's one of the top traits he looks for when he is recruiting. Academics are super important to all of us. Even when we're not traveling, we hold each other accountable. With golf being such a mental game, what are some things you do to stay level in between rounds and while you're competing? I don't even really like to think about golf in between shots. I'll think about what we're going to have lunch or dinner and I try to enjoy the course that we are on. I also try play one hole and one shot at a time. I know that's very cliche and a lot of people say that but it's so true. Being present is something that helps me mentally. Do you think about your score at all? No, when I'm playing my best, I will give my coach my scorecard and I won't even know what I shot.

Photo provided by NDSU athletics.

NDSU golfers Taylor McCorkle and Jack Johnson are looking to help push the program forward after leading the way for their respective teams this past season.

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When you do have a bad hole or round, how do you deal with it? I just kind of shake it off. When you're running the 100 meters in track, a bad start can make it hard to catch up but golf is really different. Our competitions are 18 or 36 holes in a day. So, if I have a bad hole, I tell myself I have 16 more holes to bring it back. Golf is a sport of imperfection.


Where did your love of golf really come from? Honestly, I was never really a golfer growing up. I played baseball all the way up until I was 13. My parents have played a little bit but as soon as they had me and my younger brother, they kind of quit because they didn't have time with us being in sports. After baseball, I started to golf more in the summer. And I just started to learn it was more enjoyable to practice golf than it was to practice baseball. I liked knowing that whatever happened with golf, I could only put the blame or the praise on myself. When you are practicing, do you find yourself spending more time working on your short game or are you spending more time at the driving range?

Photo provided by NDSU athletics.

jack johnson Sophomore chaska, minnesota

I think the biggest difference between the upper and lower levels of the college game is mostly all short game. Anybody can hit 280 to 300 plus yards. It really comes down to how good you are getting up and down around the greens. The short game is where I like to spend most of my time. It's definitely a place where you can never be too good. You can always keep improving. For a lot of people, golf is kind of their escape, their time to relax. Is it for you? Now that I'm in college, there's still a lot of room to get better in the offseason. So, I didn't stray too far from the game this offseason. I kept working at it even in those November, December and January months. However, at some point, I usually like to take a quick break in the offseason so I don't get too burnt out.

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2021 Men’s and Women’s CROSS COUNTRY schedule SEPT 4

VS. UND RON PYNN CLASSIC

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – RAY RICHARDS GOLF COURSE (11 A.M )

VS. SDSU CLASSIC

BROOKINGS, S.D. – EDGEBROOK GOLF COURSE

SEPT 24

VS. ROY GRIAK INVITATIONAL

FALCON HEIGHTS, MINN. – LES BOLSTAD COURSE

VS. BRADLEY PINK CLASSIC

PEORIA, ILL. – NEWMAN GOLF COURSE

OCT 30

SUMMIT LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS

NCAA MIDWEST REGIONAL

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OCT 15

TULSA, OKLA. – MOHAWK PARK

IOWA CITY, IOWA – ASHTON CROSS COUNTRY COURSE

NOV 20

SEPT 10

NOV 12

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – APALACHEE REGIONAL PARK


kelby anderson Photo provided by NDSU athletics. • 2019 Summit League Cross Country Individual Champion • 2019 Summit League Cross Country Athlete of the Year • Top finisher for the Bison at all six meets in 2019


Sept/oct

athletics calendar September 9/2 Women’s Soccer vs. Wyoming Fargo, ND 6 p.m.

9/3 Women’s Volleyball vs. Charlotte Chicago State Invite Chicago, Ill 10 a.m. Women’s Volleyball at Chicago State Chicago State Invite Chicago, Ill 7 p.m.

9/9 Men’s Golf vs. NDSU Fall Match Play Fargo, ND (Fargo Country Club) Women’s Soccer at Creighton Omaha, Neb. 7 p.m.

9/10 Women’s and Men’s Cross Country at SDSU Classic Brookings, SD (Edgebrook Golf Course)

9/4

Women’s Volleyball vs. Butler Cal Tournament Berkeley, Cal noon

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country at UND Ron Pynn Classic Grand Forks, ND - Ray Richards Golf Course

Women’s Volleyball at Cal Cal Tournament Berkeley, Cal 9 p.m.

Women’s Volleyball vs. Niagara Chicago State Invite Chicago, Ill 11 a.m. Football vs. Albany Fargo, ND 2:30 p.m.

9/7 Men’s Golf vs. NDSU Fall Match Day Fargo, ND

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9/11 Women’s Volleyball vs. Nevada Cal Tournament Berkeley, Cal 2 p.m. Football Valparaiso Fargo, ND 2:30 p.m.

9/13 Men’s Golf at Kansas State Wildcat Invitation Manhattan, Kan.

Women’s Golf at Jackrabbit Invitational Brookings, SD

9/14 Men’s Golf at Kansas State Wildcat Invitation Manhattan, Kan. Women’s Golf at Jackrabbit Invitational Brookings, SD

9/17 Women’s Soccer at Marquette Milwaukee, Wis. 7 p.m. Women’s Volleyball at Portland State Portland State Tournament Portland, Ore. 9 p.m.

9/18 Women’s Volleyball vs. Gonzaga Portland State Tournament Portland, Ore. 1 p.m. Football at Towson Towson, Md. 5 p.m. Women’s Volleyball at Portland State Portland State Tournament Portland Ore. 9 p.m.

9/19 Women’s Golf at Coeur d’Alene Resort Collegiate Invitational Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (Coeur d’Alene Resort GC)

9/20 Women’s Golf at Coeur d’Alene Resort Collegiate Invitational Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (Coeur d’Alene Resort GC)

9/21 Women’s Golf at Coeur d’Alene Resort Collegiate Invitational Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (Coeur d’Alene Resort GC)

9/23 Women’s Volleyball vs. Kansas City Fargo, ND 7 p.m.

9/24 Women’s and Men’s Cross Country at Roy Griak Invitational Falcon Heights, MN (Les Bostad Course)

9/25 Women’s Volleyball vs Oral Roberts Fargo, ND 1 p.m.


9/27

10/3

10/10

Men’s Golf at Zach Johnson Invitational Des Moines, Iowa (Glen Oaks C.C.)

Women’s Soccer vs. Kansas City Fargo, ND 1 p.m.

Women’s Soccer vs. North Dakota Fargo, ND 1 p.m.

9/28

10/4

10/11

Men’s Golf at Zach Johnson Invitational Des Moines, Iowa (Glen Oaks C.C.)

Men’s Golf at Ron Moore Intercollegiate Denver, CO (Colorado G.C.)

Women’s Golf vs. Pat Lesser-Harbottle Invitational Tacoma, WA (Tacoma CC)

Women’s Volleyball at South Dakota Vermillion, SD 7 p.m.

Women’s Golf at Stampede at the Creek Omaha, Neb. (Indian Creek G.C.)

9/30

10/5

Women’s Volleyball at Western Illinois Macomb, Ill. 7 p.m.

Men’s Golf at Ron Moore Intercollegiate Denver, CO (Colorado G.C.)

October

Women’s Golf at Stampede at the Creek Omaha, Neb. (Indian Creek G.C.)

10/1 Women’s Soccer vs. Oral Roberts Fargo, ND 6 p.m.

10/2 Football at North Dakota Grand Forks, ND 2 p.m. Women’s Volleyball at St. Thomas St. Paul, MN 3 p.m.

10/7 Women’s Volleyball vs. Denver Fargo, ND 7 p.m.

10/9 Women’s Volleyball vs. Omaha Fargo, ND 11 a.m. Football vs. Northern Iowa Fargo, ND 1 p.m.

10/12 Women’s Golf vs. Pat Lesser-Harbottle Invitational Tacoma, WA (Tacoma CC) Women’s Volleyball at South Dakota State Brookings, SD 7 p.m.

10/15 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country at Bradley Pink Classic Peoria, Ill. (Newman Golf Course) Women’s Soccer at South Dakota State Brookings, SD 6 p.m.


TEAM MAKERS

Fall Tailgating

The sizzle of the grill, the crack of the pads and the pride of the herd is back in full force. Tailgating makes its longawaited return to the Fargo Dome. So, fill those propane tanks, get that ice in the cooler and prepare yourself for some awesome pregame fun!

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Football Tailgating Policies The following standards have been developed so that North Dakota State University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests may enjoy their game day experience to the fullest. We anticipate your cooperation in observing each of these points, which are provided in the best interest of health and safety. Thank you very much.

HOURS Reserved tailgating opens 51⁄2 hours before kickoff. All other lots open 5 hours before kickoff. Tailgating ends 30 minutes prior to kickoff. All guests are required to exit the tailgating lots at this time. Tailgating is not permitted in the parking lots during the game. Lots close 1 hour after the game or 11:00 p.m., whichever comes first.


is Back PARKING LOTS Tailgating is allowed in designated parking lots. Alcohol is allowed in Fargodome lots E, F and G, and NDSU lot NQ.

Additionally, a “twice the size of your vehicle” maximum number of spots applies. Single vehicles with no trailers have a maximum of 2 spots. A vehicle with a trailer has a maximum of 4 spots.

Consumption and possession of alcohol is prohibited in Fargodome lots A, AA, B, C, D, and all other NDSU lots.

Staff will direct vehicles to spots.

• Lot A and AA are staff, media, and suiteholders • Lot B and C are $5 game day parking • Lot D is Team Makers reserved parking • Lot E, F and G are reserved tailgating • NDSU Lot NQ is nonreserved tailgating • NDSU Lot R North is Team Makers reserved parking • NDSU Lot R South, RF and F are $5 game day parking No tailgating, no alcohol in NDSU parking lots (except NQ).

PARKING PROCEDURES Reserved Tailgating: Lot D will be used for reserved tailgating lineup. All tailgating spots in Lots E, F and G will have a Lot, Row and Space designation based on priority points. Reserved spots are $20 per spot, per game in increments of 2 with a maximum of 6 per account. Non-Reserved Tailgating: Nonreserved spots will be available in NDSU Lot NQ. Parking is $5 per spot with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 spots.

Non-Reserved Tailgating Lineup: Fans who wish to tailgate together should arrive together. Non-reserved lineup begins at 5:00 p.m. Friday (for Saturday games) along the south side of 17th Avenue. Vehicles must be attended at all times; they may not be parked and abandoned. Law enforcement and event staff will be present to assist with this lineup. Tailgating is prohibited on University and City of Fargo streets prior to entering the lot. Campus Parking: Game day parking is available for $5 per spot in NDSU Lots R, RF and F west and south of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. Vehicles shall enter from 14th Street near the Team Makers Athletic Fields.


Parking Options

per game in increments of 2 with a maximum of 6 per account.

VIP Parking: VIP parking in Lots D and R must be requested each year by May 1st. Information to request a VIP parking spot will be sent out by April 1st. Spots are determined by priority points and assigned by June 1st. Payment must be made by July 15th. Lots D and R are reserved Team Makers lots for Captains Club members ($500) and above. All passes are valid for all regular season home games and potential postseason games. Alcohol is prohibited.

Non-Reserved Tailgating: Non-reserved spots will be available in the NDSU NQ lot. Parking is $5 per spot with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 spots. Additionally, a “twice the size of your vehicle” maximum number of spots applies. Single vehicles with no trailers have a maximum of 2 spots. A vehicle with a trailer has a maximum of 4 spots. Staff will direct vehicles to spots.

Reserved Tailgating: Lot D will be used for reserved tailgating lineup. All tailgating spots in Lots E, F, G North and G South will have a Lot, Row and Space designation based on priority points. Reserved spots are $20 per spot,

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Non-Reserved Tailgating Lineup: Fans who wish to tailgate together should arrive together. Non-reserved lineup begins at 5:00 p.m. Friday (for Saturday games) along the south side of 17th Avenue. Vehicles must be attended at all times; they may not be parked and abandoned. Law enforcement and

event staff will be present to assist with this lineup. Tailgating is prohibited on University and City of Fargo streets prior to entering the lot.


sCHMIDTY’S

Slant

BY Nolan P. Schmidt

Welcome to the

schmidt show think it’s safe to say that spring 2021 was an anomaly for North Dakota State football. It was superb at times but downright messy and flawed in other instances. That is by no means a personal criticism of any student-athlete, coach or administrator, it’s just the truth. No one can plan for a pandemic. No one can plan for games being canceled or schedules moving seasons entirely. Nobody can prepare for that sort of thing. Now, it’s not an excuse, but given the circumstances, I think NDSU football navigated the spring as best they could.

I

While that culminated in a quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Sam Houston State, there is still reason to be hopeful. Many of the young players we saw last spring are back with another year of experience under their belt. Couple that with the upper-class talent this roster has and the Bison look as loaded as ever. That’s not to say there aren't questions, though... Here are a few of my free-standing thoughts heading into this fall season.

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The Quarterback Question For some, there is a reason for concern when it comes to Bison football. Following last spring’s dysfunctional 7-3 record, questions arose. Who would be the one to take the reigns of a loaded Bison offense in fall 2021.? There is no question that this year’s Bison offense will be another year stronger and more talented, especially up front and at the skill positions. However, the conundrum at the quarterback position continues. While blue-chipper Cole Payton was a dark horse throughout the summer, it seems as though NDSU will potentially opt to redshirt the Omaha product. That leaves sophomore Cam Miller and Virginia Tech transfer Quincy Patterson as the presumptive one-two on the Bison depth chart. Miller played extensively in the spring, coming on in relief for a struggling Zeb Noland. He showed flashes, primarily on the ground, but the jury was still left to deliberate on Miller after the season. My counterpoint to those doubting Miller’s ability based on the spring season alone would be to look into the

circumstances. North Dakota State had every intention of playing a fall season in 2020. That did not happen. Because of that, Trey Lance opted to forgo the spring to focus on the NFL Draft. It was a decision that has since worked out quite well for Lance. This left NDSU with Zeb Noland and the true freshman Miller as their quarterback options. Cam Miller was not supposed to see the field had the Bison played a fall schedule. However, he was prematurely thrust into action due to the spring schedule and Noland’s struggles. Despite that, Miller was still able to complete over 50 percent of his passes. Now, I understand the passing sample size is limited, but for a true freshman with a truncated rehearsal time? I feel those doubters need to cut Miller some slack. I mean, Bruce Wayne didn’t just become Batman overnight. His ability to run the ball effectively also provided a shot in the arm that the Bison offense needed. Miller’s four rushing touchdowns in the spring were second on the roster behind Hunter Luepke. That alone makes him a worthy starter against Albany on September 4.


The other candidate, Quincy Patterson has a few more questions behind him. With only 13 total games played at Virginia Tech, the film is somewhat limited on Patterson. However, one cannot overlook the talent level Patterson possesses. It’s obviously part of the reason he made it to an ACC power school initially. That talent begins with his physical intangibles. At 6-foot-3, 246 pounds, Patterson provides a brutish build blended with quickness and athleticism. If you need any proof of Patterson’s physical frame, simply look at NDSU football’s Twitter account. He looks as big as some of NDSU’s offensive linemen. Much like Miller, Patterson also has the ability to get outside the pocket and scramble for yards. Not only that, but his skill set is a perfect fit for an NDSU offense that was so reliant on Trey Lance and Easton Stick’s legs in previous seasons. It might be a wait-and-see approach to Patterson as a passer, but it’s hard to look at him and not be tantalized by his skills as a runner. Luckily for both Miller and Patterson, they are playing with house money on offense. With weapons like Christian Watson, Phoenix Sproles and more alongside them, the Bison pass attack should look a little cleaner this season.

Cordell Volson. Add to that, a few injuries and you had even younger players stepping into starting roles. The lack of cohesion was evident and, much like the situation with Cam Miller, the youth showed at times. Bison great Zack Johnson told me long ago that playing on the offensive line is like a chain. If one link is broken, the whole chain is a waste of space. Perhaps more than any other unit on the football roster, the offensive line takes this comparison to heart. Need proof? Cordell Volson could have easily started preparing a run at the NFL Draft last fall. He could have left Fargo this fall to prepare for this year’s draft as well. He didn’t. Volson came back and I have to believe that Volson did it to prove a point (among other things). He wants to prove that last year was an anomaly, that the offensive line’s performance in the spring was not the Bison way. That pride shines through. Now, those very young guys mentioned above have valuable game snaps. Players like Mason Miller, Jack Rock and Grey Zabel are ready to be stars right now as sophomores. Add to that group veterans like Volson, Cody Mauch, Jalen Sundell, Nash Jensen and San Diego transfer Luke Lacilento. Need I say more?

The Rams Are Back Spring 2021 was an adverse time for the North Dakota State offensive line group. Dillon Radunz left for the pros and NDSU was forced to move forward with a very young group of players spearheaded by senior

Expect a nasty, gritty offensive line group this year. I’d go so far as to say it may become the most physical group of rams we’ve ever seen.


SWANY SAYS

BY JOSHUA A. SWANSON *Swanson is a native of Maddock, N.D., a proud NDSU alum and a lifelong Bison fan.

A return to normalcy century ago, in 1920, on the heels of the Allies victory in World War I and the devastating Spanish flu pandemic, Warren G. Harding ran for president on the slogan a “Return to normalcy.” Harding, a senator from Ohio, was elected, defeating Ohio governor James Cox and his vice presidential running mate, some guy named Franklin D. Roosevelt, by promising a return from the tumult and chaos that rocked the world in the years preceding that election. As they say, history has a way of repeating itself. Here we are, in 2021, gearing up for another college football season in hopes that the games, tailgating, packed stands, and the pageantry of it all – that majestic, sweet soaring pageantry that makes us spend our fall weekends

A

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devoted to something so grand – is returning from the year lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. After an up-and-down 7-3 spring season and trip to the FCS quarterfinals, North Dakota State has its standard national championship expectations entering the fall. Last spring, an asterisk or not, was only the second “season” since 2011 that the Bison were not crowned national champions in Frisco. That’s eight national titles in ten seasons during the Decade of the Bison. Only at Alabama, Clemson, and Fargo are those lofty expectations the norm. Athlon Sports has NDSU ranked as the No. 2 team in the country behind James Madison – who, it should be pointed out, has as many national titles as Sam Houston since 2010 … one – as things get set for kickoff. There’s good reason for optimism surrounding the Herd’s quest to return to their championship ways. For starters, it’s the starters. The Bison have a bevy of starters on both sides of the ball coming back, and

others who logged key experience in that quarterfinal run. What is often negligently overlooked in the shuffle from last spring is that the Herd led eventual national champ Sam Houston 20 – 17 with less than four minutes to play, despite not having scored a touchdown on offense all afternoon. The youthful Bison turned the ball over twice near midfield in the game’s opening minutes, crawling back from a 14 – 0 deficit to the brink of advancing to what would have been an epic semifinal tilt against the aforementioned JMU in Harrisonburg, Va. And don’t forget, even after the Bearkats converted a 3-and10 from their side of midfield with a 47-yard pass to NDSU’s 5-yard line, then scored the go-ahead touchdown, the Bison marched from their own 25 all the way to Sam Houston’s 17-yard line before a botched snap forced a 4-and-6 that the Bison couldn’t convert. The youthful Bison were a gnarly cat’s whisker away from advancing to their tenth straight FCS semifinals. In addition to all the injuries, including several players that missed all spring, a key mid-season transfer, losses to the NFL


Draft and the departure of one of the most talented classes to ever walk the halls of this championship program, and uneven quarterback play, to come that tantalizingly close to another title is all the reminder we need that NDSU isn’t far away from returning to the top of the mountain, to that proverbial return to normalcy. Think about this. Heading into the Sam Houston game, the Bison had 23 freshmen and sophomores on their two-deep depth chart. Without scoring a touchdown, those guys still found themselves at Sam Houston’s 17 with a shot to win the damn thing. That speaks volumes as to this group’s resolve and fighting spirit, all those challenges notwithstanding. That takes guts, man, championship-level guts. Add into that youthful mix talented transfers like former Virginia Tech quarterback Quincy Patterson, Southern Methodist running back Tamerik

Williams, and San Diego offensive lineman Luke Lacilento, and the return of weapons like playmaker Phoenix Sproles and the best player in the FCS, receiver Christian Watson, the Bison are loaded. Like, scary good loaded. That’s right. We’re talking very, very good. As in, everyone in town will start saying goofy things in November like, “Nobody saw this coming … ” good. Except the guys in the locker room, they know. And now, you know.

won 16 national titles and 36 conference championships, nearly all of those coming since 1965, there are no quirks of history involved. It happens for a reason. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your smiling Bison faces at the Fargodome this fall. Everyone up for the kickoff, the march is on!

Any other college football program would be licking its chops going into this fall based on the promise of what’s ahead. As it stands, this reminds me of where we were at going into that first FCS title season in 2011 after getting oh-soclose in 2010. I suppose that’s the funny thing about history repeating itself. Or, maybe more appropriately, this is what one of the all-time great programs in all of college football does. When you’ve 77


Profile for Spotlight

Bison Illustrated September 2021  

Fall sports are back. Tailgating is back. Championship expectations are back. Those sentences should be music to the eyes of anyone reading...

Bison Illustrated September 2021  

Fall sports are back. Tailgating is back. Championship expectations are back. Those sentences should be music to the eyes of anyone reading...

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