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Bison 2022 depth chart position preview: Defensive End

The edge rushers bring a mix of stability and experience to a spot that has shone for the Bison.

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North Dakota State's Jake Kava celebrates a sack against Southern Illinois during their NCAA FCS second-round football playoff game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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The 2022 North Dakota State football season is quickly approaching and offseason coverage is heating up at the Bison Media Zone.

Thru the summer months, we will look at each position on the Bison football team and examine the depth chart at those positions, ranging from current players on the team to incoming players that could play.

The next position group up is defensive end, a spo that has produced several NFL players over the last eight years: Kyle Emanuel, Derrek Tuszka and Brayden Thomas.

It's an intriguing spot to look at this coming year as NDSU will bring back one player for his sixth year, while others will look to break thru to be major contributors in 2022.

BISON OFFSEASON STORIES
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NDSU has some youth that will be asked to take on a larger role this fall.
NDSU will have two new starters at a critical spot in 2022

The Bison said goodbye to one of their captains and stalwarts at defensive end, Logan McCormick. Bartholomew Ogbu transferred to North Dakota and Thomas is looking to make the Rams in training camp, while Will Mostaert has moved from the outside to defensive tackle.

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SPENCER WAEGE - SIXTH YEAR SENIOR

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North Dakota State's Spencer Waege celebrates a tackle against Valparaiso during their football game Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

If it seems that Waege has been at NDSU for a long time, it's for a simple reason: he has.

Waege will return for an extra season of eligibility after tearing his ACL in the third game of the season at Towson. Had Waege not gotten hurt, my belief is he would have given the NFL a full shot, but it's NDSU's gain with him returning.

He has yet to have that breakout season that Emanuel, Tuszka and Thomas each had, but maybe that's coming this fall. His talent is undeniable and has shone the ability to get to the quarterback and make a play. NDSU is going to need a healthy Waege to be a major factor this year.

JAKE KAVA - SENIOR

Kava is another player that seems he's been at NDSU for a while as he enters his fifth year at NDSU.

It's been quite the road for the Shanley product, who was a great high school product, but his road to the field has been filled with twists and turns at NDSU.

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Kava first saw the field in 2019 and was poised to play more the following year, but tore his ACL during fall practice. He would miss the entire spring season rehabbing from injury.

He was quick to capitalize on more playing time after Waege got hurt this past fall, playing in all 15 games, registering 17 tackles and four sacks.

Kava's quickness was evident during the postseason, as he had a great semifinal against James Madison, which included a sack in the third quarter. He will need to take another step forward as Kava will be counted on for his experience this year.

TONY PIERCE - JUNIOR

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North Dakota State’s Tony Pierce celebrates a tackle against South Dakota during their football game Saturday, Nov. 16, in the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

Pierce was one of the most improved Bison players in 2021. After a disappointing spring campaign, I thought Pierce was really impressive during the fall.

His explosiveness has been on display since he first took the field in 2018 as a true freshman.

That came to fruition this past fall with 26 tackles and 2.5 sacks, two of those sacks came in the FCS semifinal win over James Madison.

Pierce may be in line for a big year with many offensive lines focusing on the return of Waege, that he could have the ability to get to the quarterback more frequently. He's got the tools, now it's about putting it together for a full season.

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LOSHIAKA ROQUES - SOPHOMORE

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North Dakota State's Loshiaka Roques takes on Illinois State's Cole Anderson at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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A young player that really flashed last season.

Roques was named to the Missouri Valley Football all-newcomer team last year as he finished the year with 11 tackles and two sacks.

The Wayzata, Minnesota native won a state championship at former linebacker and current Bison assistant Grant Olson's alma mater and Olson hasn't stopped raving about Roques since he arrived on campus.

At 6-3, 224 pounds there is still plenty of room for Roques to grow and that's been one of the focuses for him this offseason. Paired with Tony Pierce, each of them can give NDSU what they need with this position: a dominant disruptor on the edge.

DYLAN HENDRICKS - JUNIOR

Hendricks is a really unique story, who has recovered from two serious injuries, including a broken neck.

Hendricks has moved positions from linebacker to defensive end this past spring and has impressed with the reps he has received.

His ability to continue to pick up the defense which will critical during fall camp to give NDSU as much depth as possible at a spot where the Bison have routinely rotated defensive ends for a majority of the last decade.

IN THE PIPELINE: There's no real game experience in two players, Reed Ryan and Kole Menz. Each have been here for a couple of years, both will need solid fall camps to see if they can work their way into the defensive line rotation.

There are some intriguing incoming recruits, led by East Ridge standout Toby Anene. Anene is 6-3, 231 pounds, who played in the Minnesota All-Star Game in December. He had 53 tackles this past season and could be a player that plays the four games this fall.

Three other defensive ends signed in December, Allante Burley, Kelton McCaslin and Gannon Williams all are on campus, keep an eye on Burley, who is another recruit from Georgia. He arrives on campus at 6-1, 242 pounds and very well could see the field this coming fall.

ANALYSIS

NDSU has had a long line of players that have been impact guys at defensive end, from Coulter Boyer to Greg Menard. The Bison will need that again in 2022.

The ability for these D-ends to stay healthy will be critical and we'll see if there is a young player or two that makes their way onto the field.

It's a critical spot worth watching in 2022.

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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