FARGO — The last game was May 2, the loss at Sam Houston State in the Division I FCS semifinals. It ended North Dakota State’s spring football season at 7-3.
The concern for most FCS coaches at that time, and in NDSU’s case, was the 10 games would linger into the summer and perhaps fall practice in the name of injuries, aches and pains.
“It doesn’t feel like we’ve had that,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz.
The translation: it’s back to business as usual for NDSU.
Players report for practice on Thursday, Aug. 5 and the first practice is Aug. 6. At least 110 players remained in Fargo for summer workouts under the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer.
“We’re getting back to a normal cycle and that’s a positive for the program in general,” Entz said.
The normal cycle was interrupted with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bison had one game last fall after the Missouri Valley Football Conference postponed its season to the spring. To address the potential of so many games in one calendar year, the Bison cut back on the length and intensity of practices in general in the spring.
They played more players than usual in hopes of limiting the number of repetitions of players. Heading into fall camp, that may have paid off.
“From a heavy-leg, worn-out standpoint, I’m not feeling that right now,” Entz said. “We haven’t seen any proof that we have a hangover from the spring.”
Only running back Seth Wilson is still on the injured list. Wilson tore his ACL in the first game of the spring season against Youngstown State and his full recovery isn’t expected for a while. Entz said junior tight end Austin Avery gave up football because of constant lower-back issues.
“He tried to recover,” he said, “but this is making sure about the quality of life for him in the future.”
NDSU did add cornerback Jerodd Vines, who while at Eastern Michigan entered the transfer portal. Vines has been on campus for a few weeks and is expected to contend for instant playing time.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Vines played three seasons with the Eagles of the FBS Mid-American Conference but has three seasons of eligibility left with the Bison. He played in 11 games, starting three, as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and played in four of EMU’s six games last fall.
“He was a young man who played a lot of football at Eastern Michigan and that was one of the things that was beneficial is there was a lot of film,” Entz said. “We could watch him play. It wasn’t speculation, he started games for them.”
Entz said NDSU was able to reach out to assistant coaches at Eastern Michigan for further advice. Entz said a big reason Vines left is he wanted to get out of his hometown of Detroit. Vines has been in Fargo for a few weeks.
“We’re excited about what he can bring,” Entz said.
Hines is the fourth FBS transfer (fifth overall with offensive lineman Luke LaCilento from FCS San Diego) to make the move to NDSU. The others are quarterback Quincy Patterson II (Virginia Tech), tight end Gabe Lloyd (Wisconsin) and running back TaMerik Williams (SMU).
“The majority of transfers we’ve taken all have multiple years left,” Entz said. “It’s an opportunity to sink our teeth into them and get them to be like Bison like freshmen. The staff did a good job of making sure they were the right fit.”