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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FARGO—Most of the North Dakota State football players had left the Dacotah Field Bubble after practice had ended earlier this week. Sean Engel remained, doing some drills under the watchful eye of receivers coach Atif Austin that looked more like something from an armed forces boot camp. All Engel cared to say about it is "coach Austin is helping me get better." "He expects a lot of out of me and I expect a lot out of myself," Engel said.
Fargo It was around 2008 and 2009 when the tour of North Dakota State football took us around the Missouri Valley Conference. Before heading to the stadium on Saturday mornings, it was always a priority to check out the basketball arenas at Valley members Illinois State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Missouri State and Indiana State. The initial impression was usually the same: NDSU is way out of its league, so to speak, to be a part of the Valley in all sports. Those schools had curb appeal. NDSU had the 1970s Bison Sports Arena.
FARGO—North Dakota State went into the 2013 Division I FCS national title game with a team of 26 seniors. When it comes to a mature team, that was almost semi-pro in nature with so many guys in their early 20s. The Bison played like it too, easily handling Towson (Md.) University 35-7 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. "I remember looking at that 2013 team and absolutely loving it," said senior defensive tackle Nate Tanguay. "They were so close and that's how I see us."
FARGO—It was back to work for the North Dakota State football team with the start of spring football this week. For senior Matt Plank, he said it was fun getting on the field again colliding, hitting and getting a little chippy at each other. Good times. That's the mentality of a middle linebacker anyway and it's the last go-around for Plank, who enters his final year of eligibility as an established starter. But so is the guy he replaced.
Fargo North Dakota State was admitted into the school known as the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the spring of 2007. But classes didn't officially start until Oct. 18, 2008, a day that will go down as the historical start of the Division I FCS football dynasty. That's when Northern Iowa showed the Bison what kind of student it takes to win at the Valley level.
FARGO—The spring football quarterback depth chart at North Dakota State was over before it started. Easton Stick is the returning starter, senior Cole Davis is the veteran backup and redshirt freshman Henry Van Dellen is the third stringer. Stick is 20-2 as a starter, although NDSU would like to see his passing game improve. Davis will enter his fifth year in the program and the Bison coaches know they have a solid No. 2 guy. Sophomore James Hendricks, a quarterback his first two years at NDSU, moved to strong safety.
FARGO—There were many days when Dexter Werner played college basketball with a football mentality. So with his North Dakota State hoop career done, he found himself with free time this semester. He thought about throwing the javelin for the track and field team. Then football came into the discussion. So, in his words, why not? Why not give NDSU football's annual Pro Day a shot? "I just think it would have been foolish to turn down a chance to show what I can do," Werner said.
FARGO—James Madison's backups were better than North Dakota State's backups. That was a blunt assessment from NDSU head coach Chris Klieman on Tuesday, March 21, the day before his team is scheduled to open spring football practice. The Dukes ended NDSU's 2016 season with an FCS semifinal playoff victory at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, ending the Bison's five-year reign as the FCS national champion. Klieman said the next 15 spring practices could go a long way in closing that gap.
FARGO -- North Dakota State basketball player Dexter Werner, who just finished his decorated career with the Bison, is not done with athletics. He’s going to give another sport a shot: Football. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound center will participate in NDSU’s annual “Pro Day” next week. It’s the skills evaluation that attracts professional scouts from a number of NFL teams that was a national story last year thanks to quarterback Carson Wentz.
FARGO—They were called the Fargo-Moorhead Jets over the public address system all game and the Throwback Night may have reminded some fans of the days of the former local Junior A team in the North American Hockey League. But this is 2017. The Fargo Force are more interested in their immediate future than decade-old history and a 2-0 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers kept the Force in control for a top-four spot and a USHL playoff berth. The Force wore the Jets' orange jerseys and Matt Murray may not mind wearing them more often.