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'It sent a shockwave back home'; Zabel returns to South Dakota eager for game with Jackrabbits

The North Dakota State offensive lineman won three state titles at Pierre High School

Grey Zabel
North Dakota State offensive lineman Grey Zabel warms up for a game this spring against Northern Iowa / WDAY Sports

FARGO - Grey Zabel is a household name in South Dakota.

The Bison sophomore offensive lineman won three straight state championships at Pierre High School before heading north. His decision to commit to North Dakota State sent some shockwaves back home.

"When I did commit a lot of people were shocked that I did. It's definitely an SDSU town, it's like a needle in a haystack to find a Bison fan there." Zabel said earlier this week.

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Zabel saw the field earlier than anyone expected. With the departures of Dillon Radunz and Karson Schoening last fall and some ineffective play, Zabel saw his number called against Missouri State in March, in the third game of the season. Before long, Zabel was starting at right guard for games against North Dakota, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State.

He has some extra motivation for Saturday's showdown for the Marker. He hurt his knee early in the game last spring against SDSU, costing him the rest of his freshman season.

"It was a fluke play, somebody fell on the back of my leg. I remember just trying to get up and struggling, something wasn't right. The next thing you know I was done for the season. It was a tough pill to swallow."

Bison get commitment from Pierre's Zabel

Zabel says he'll have over 40 family and friends in the stands, for one of the most anticipated games in his football career.

"I'm really excited to go back home and be in my home state, this game is really drawn up, really excited to be playing for the Dakota Marker."

Dom Izzo is the Sports Director at WDAY-TV. He began working for WDAY in 2006 as the weekend sports anchor and was promoted to Sports Director in 2010.
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