Wrigley on the field
North Dakota State linebacker Bill Wrigley spent more time practicing with freshmen during his first four years then he did with upperclassmen. Finding his name on the depth chart took some searching. It even became the subject of a joke with his...
North Dakota State linebacker Bill Wrigley spent more time practicing with freshmen during his first four years then he did with upperclassmen. Finding his name on the depth chart took some searching. It even became the subject of a joke with his best friends on the team.
"I told them my scout team eligibility was up," he said. "Four years is the most you get. I had to do something with the new group."
He did something last weekend against Nicholls State (La.). Wrigley was a big part of the game's biggest play.
Nicholls was trailing 14-7, but had the momentum late early in the fourth quarter.
Facing fourth-and-3 near midfield, the Colonels went for it sending fullback Broderick Coles on a misdirection play.
Coles was tripped up near the line of s scrimmage and Wrigley was there to put him to the ground.
The NDSU offense turned it into a field goal and, eventually, a 24-14 victory.
"I didn't realize it at the time," Wrigley said. "But thinking back on it the next day, then it kind of sunk in."
With a road trip to South Dakota State for a Saturday night game pending, the play is old news now. But Wrigley's contributions have given the NDSU defense some added depth. Wrigley was on the field for 17 plays against Nicholls.
"You never would have said that even two years ago," said Bison linebackers coach Casey Bradley. "He's progressed a ways."
His progression to an NDSU player started long before his high school days in Heyburn, Idaho. He lived in West Fargo until sixth grade.
"Coming here wasn't as random as it may seem," he said.
He remembers going to games at Dacotah Field. The fact he wanted to return to the area and NDSU's highly-regarded pharmacy program made it an easy choice.
Ironically, his heaviest contributions to the football team are coming at a time when his pharmacy major is at its toughest.
He's not complaining. He had three tackles as a freshman and none as a sophomore.
"There were some times when I really questioned why I was here," he said. "It didn't look like there was anything ahead for me. But there was always a teammate or a coach who reinforced that the situation could change."
It started to change last year; he saw the field on special teams last year finishing with nine tackles.
The heat and humidity of Louisiana made his contributions necessary. He also made a solo stop earlier in the game on a Nicholls running back.
It was the first time in his career as a linebacker that he was in the mix while the outcome was still in question.
"I looked out there and saw our guys looking tired," Wrigley said. "I had my helmet strapped."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546