Another Bohl emerges as defensive leader for Dragons
MOORHEAD – When Aaron Bohl decided to play football at Minnesota State Moorhead a few years ago, he viewed having his dad nearby as a bonus.
That’s why Aaron took it in stride when his father, Craig Bohl, left North Dakota State after last season to take the head football job at the University of Wyoming.
“I always knew there would be an opportunity where he might leave,” Aaron Bohl said Thursday after MSUM had completed its first practice of fall camp. “I made sure that was more of a bonus than a requirement to come up here.”
In his third year in the Dragons’ program, Bohl has established himself as the starter at middle linebacker. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder started all 11 games last fall as a redshirt freshman, ranking fifth on the team with 66 tackles.
“He’s gone from last year, being a productive player and really handling his own business, to now he’s thinking beyond himself,” Dragons head coach Steve Laqua said.
Bohl has such a good grasp of the defense, he’s been able to help other players on defense understand their responsibilities on certain plays.
“He’s really become more of a coach on the field,” Laqua said.
“You can tell that he’s just got a coach’s mind,” Dragons wide receiver Cory Ambrose said of Bohl. “I know he’s a leader out there for defense.”
Aaron said it was nice to have his father nearby during his first two seasons with MSUM. The two usually met for dinner once a week, Aaron said.
Craig Bohl was named the Wyoming head coach last December, but stayed on at NDSU into January, guiding the Bison to a third consecutive Division I FCS national title.
The job change meant Aaron would no longer live minutes from his dad.
“He felt pretty bad about it whenever he first took the job. It was something he struggled with,” Aaron said. “I said, ‘Hey I’m 20 years old now … I’m like a normal college student now.’ ”
Even though Craig is in Laramie, Aaron said they still talk plenty about how things are going with their respective teams.
“I still try to talk to him about once a week,” Aaron said. “We check up on each other’s teams. I see how they’re doing out there in Wyoming. He’s really excited about how we’re doing out here at MSUM.”
Aaron is excited about where the Dragons are headed after a four-win season last fall. That marked the first time MSUM had more than two wins in a season since 2007.
That improvement led to a productive offseason, Bohl said, and momentum heading into this season.
“Last year, there was a real hope that we’d be good,” Bohl said. “This year, we have a real quiet confidence that we will be good.”
The Dragons start their regular season on Sept. 6 at Upper Iowa. Bohl is expected to be a key figure if MSUM is to improve on a unit that ranked last in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in scoring defense last season. The Dragons allowed 41.5 points per game.
Laqua said Bohl brings an intangible to the team since his dad has coached teams at a championship level.
“His vision of college football is obviously tied in with his dad, which is high level,” Laqua said. “That championship attitude, that vision, that reference point, you can’t put a price tag on that within our program within our locker room.”