FARGO — Two senior running backs left the North Dakota State football program after last season but it’s not as if the position is depleted. Adam Cofield had 167 carries and 12 touchdowns and Kobe Johnson exploded for 7.7 yards per carry.
Sophomore quarterback Trey Lance led the team in rushing with 1,100 yards. In his one game, freshman Jalen Bussey had six carries for 123 yards. And don’t forget about sophomores Saybien Clark and DJ Stewart, who both are in their third year.
And don’t forget about Seth Wilson, even if a lot of people have.
He’s NDSU’s forgotten man in the backfield.
“Maybe a little bit,” Wilson said. “But I see that as an advantage because there’s not a lot of film on me. No one is really scouting me or thinking about it so it’s a weapon I’ll be able to use.”
He’s a weapon the Bison will try to unleash on Oct. 3 when they host Central Arkansas in the only fall game. The Missouri Valley Football Conference moved its league games to the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The forgotten aspect comes from the fact Wilson has had 21 carries in the last two seasons with all 21 coming two years ago after battling hamstring issues. He played as a true freshman in 2017, so NDSU limited him to four games in 2018 to preserve his eligibility because of the NCAA four-game rule.
He averaged 10.5 yards a carry in those 21 attempts. A 78-yard run in a playoff win over South Dakota State was the longest play in school history not resulting in a touchdown. He appeared to re-injure his hamstring in the latter stages of the sprint.
He came back for the national title game against Eastern Washington only to tear his ACL during spring football. It sent him to the sideline for the entire 2019 season.
“A lot of ups and downs,” Wilson said. “I never had an injury this serious and never missed a full season before. A lot of ups and downs on game day watching people being successful and knowing I could have been out there making similar plays. But family and friends were huge for me keeping my head up and keeping me focused on my goals I set for myself a long time ago and those goals helped me get through those down moments.”
Wilson’s knee is 100 percent and has been for a while. Offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl said the time away from the field has given Wilson some perspective on the details of the game.
“It has given him time to understand the big picture of football,” Roehl said. “Defenses and our offense as a whole and what is expected of him.”
Wison is stronger at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. He weighed 189 when he got his redshirt pulled as a true freshman after the Bison backfield was almost depleted because of injuries. He played in eight games and had a wow performance in the FCS semifinal game against Sam Houston State rushing for 194 yards on 24 carries.
Then the injury bug hit on at least three occasions.
He uses a restaurant metaphor to describe his lack of activity over the last two seasons.
“I would describe it as someone who was homeless or starving and finally getting a job in a five-star restaurant,” he said. “They’re serving gourmet meals left and right but they can’t eat because they haven’t gotten their money yet. So I’ve been serving food at this five-star restaurant for a long time drooling over every plate I’ve handed out. I’m ready.”
On Oct. 3, there will be no more starving.