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North Dakota State’s Christian Dudzik could see time at the slot wide receiver position formerly held by the departed Ryan Smith, according to Chris Klieman. Forum file photo

Dudzik could see time at receiver

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FARGO – Christian Dudzik, who will be a senior on the North Dakota State football team, showed his versatility by moving from cornerback to safety two years ago. This year, he may be taking that concept to a different level.

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The Bison are toying with the idea of using him on offense as well as on defense.

Considered one of the fastest players on the team, Bison head coach Chris Klieman said it’s possible Dudzik will get a look as a slot wide receiver in fall camp that starts next week.

“It maybe depends on how some of these freshmen do,” Klieman said.

It’s a position that was held by the graduated Ryan Smith the three previous years. Instead of lining up close to the sideline, the slot receiver typically lines up a few yards away from the tight end or offensive tackle.

Sophomore Eric Perkins and redshirt freshman Tyler Wrice held down the spot in spring football. Klieman said incoming freshmen Darrius Shepherd and R.J. Urzendowski will probably get a strong look in fall practice.

“That’s the area I think where there’s the most wide open competition,” he said. “Ryan Smith made a lot of great plays for us and we need to find out who that next player is.”

Dudzik was a starting cornerback as a redshirt freshman in 2011. Needing help in a different area of the defensive backfield, the Bison moved him to free safety in 2012 and he forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes.

He led the team with six interceptions last year and has started all 45 games in his college career. Giving him a look on offense will also depend on the Bison depth at free safety – sophomore Andrew Smith and freshman Chris Board backed up Dudzik in spring practice.

Dudzik was a quarterback in high school at Skutt High School in Omaha, Neb. He’s also handled the ball at NDSU as a punt returner the last couple of years returning two for touchdowns last season.

Two safety commits bring Bison total to five

NDSU picked up two verbal commitments from a pair of safeties over the weekend in Braden Sikes of Minnetonka, Minn., and Jaxon Brown from Eau Claire, Wis.

Sikes is the fourth player from the Skippers to align with NDSU in recent years joining offensive linemen Josh Colville and Boen Anderson and tight end Taylor Nelson.

“He’s a natural leader,” said Minnetonka head coach Dave Nelson.

NDSU offered Sikes at its summer football camp and Nelson said Sikes, who will most likely be the Skippers’ starting quarterback, “wanted to commit on the spot.”

“I know he took a little time but I don’t think he wanted to wait around for anybody else,” he said. “I’m sure he would have gotten other offers.”

Brown is a running back and safety for Regis High, but is projected as a safety in college. He’s a rare Division I recruit from the school.

“Jaxon has blossomed over the past year,” said Regis head coach Bryant Brenner. “If anybody recruits our school hard whether we have kids or not, it’s NDSU. … We’ve had kids who have been close but not quite at that level.”

They join tight end Ben Ellefson from Hawley, Minn., defensive end Derrek Tuszka from Warner, S.D., and linebacker Jake Brinkman from Iowa City, Iowa.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

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Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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