FARGO — As long as Kaedin Steindorf’s Twitter app doesn’t blow up and disintegrate, he’ll always have a treasured direct message from North Dakota State. It was from Bison assistant coach Nick Goeser, who asked if Steindorf was interested in coming to NDSU.
At first, Steindorf wondered if it was a hoax.
"I went to my dad and asked, 'Is this real?'" he said.
A quick search of the internet told him it was real. And that real message eventually prompted a high school kid in Sherwood, Ore., to make the long journey to Fargo. He committed on June 26, just over a month from the first day of practice.
Even his first walk into Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome had its interesting tidbit.
"I showed up with my family at the dome and one of the coaches thought I was still a high schooler," Steindorf said. 'Sorry, junior day is next week.' I was like, 'No, I’m going to be a freshman here.' It was pretty cool, when I walked into the dome, it was just breathtaking. The lights were off but you could still see through the darkness and I was like, 'I want to play here.'"
He is playing here. After spending the spring FCS season as a backup to veteran starter Garret Wegner, Steindorf won the job in fall practice. He’s been dependable heading into Saturday’s Missouri Valley Football Conference clash with Northern Iowa at the dome.
He’s averaging 39.6 yards per kick, but more impressively, of his 15 attempts, nine have landed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The net punting average is just a half yard less than his average, meaning the NDSU punt coverage team is not surrendering much in return yardage.
It’s a family thing. Steindorf’s father, Jeff Steindorf, was a junior college All-American kicker and later played a part in Southwestern Oklahoma State’s 1996 NAIA national championship. With the game tied at 31-31 with Montana Tech, his punt that ended inside the 1-yard line led to a safety and the game-winning points in a 33-31 victory.
“He was the one that got me started in kicking,” Kaedin said. “I got kind of tired of soccer and wanted to start something new. And he was definitely a big interest for me and helped me out.”
NDSU’s interest in the younger Steindorf was through Kicking World, a camp and training organization that puts on showcases across the country. One of the Kicking World coaches emailed Goeser and said he has a prospect still looking for a school.
“They started sending out my stuff because I was having issues of places to go,” Steindorf said.
It worked with Goeser, who said the hardest part in recruiting kickers is to pick and choose on who to go after.
“It’s always hard to pick and choose what you're going to look at, where you're going to spend your time looking at kids.” Goeser said. “At the specialist position, I try to take a peek at a lot of those kids. I just opened up the email, took a peak and liked what I saw.”
NDSU was the first other than NAIA schools to show interest. That’s when Goeser messaged Steindorf.
“I replied and didn’t get a response for a few days, I was wondering if I said something wrong,” he said.
NDSU didn’t have his contact information. So Steindorf sent his email and phone number and within an hour had a phone call.
“Initially I didn’t know how much he knew about NDSU,” Goeser said. “Part of it is we had to educate him on what this program is about. We play in a dome, things like that, which he didn’t know a whole lot about. I liked his personality and seemed like a good fit.”
It’s been a good fit both ways. Goeser said Steindorf still “has a long ways to go,” but so far has done the job.
“Love it here, 100%,” Steindorf said. “Just the community. A lot of schools out there recruit just from next door. I’m one of three from the West Coast recruited here. The fan base is huge. Anywhere I go, if I have NDSU apparel on, it’s like, how do you know NDSU?”
The answer started with a Twitter message.