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Bison breakthrough players in 2021; Cole Wisniewski

The freshman linebacker stepped up after an injury to James Kaczor

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North Dakota State's Cole Wisniewski (right) and Dom Jones (left) close in on Eastern Washington’s Jakobie James during their first-round FCS football playoff game on Saturday, April 24, 2021, in the Fargodome. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum
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The first series in the Bison Media Zone's offseason coverage focuses on five breakthrough players for the 2021 season.

The linebacker position at NDSU has a steep learning curve. Very rarely do you see a freshman make an impact for the Bison at that position. The names Grant Olson, Travis Beck, Carlton Littlejohn and Jabril Cox come to mind who were either true or redshirt freshmen that played a lot at that spot.

That's what makes what Cole Wisniewski did last spring even more eye opening. Wisniewski arrived on campus in Fargo last summer as a highly touted recruit out of Sparta, Wisconsin. He had 17 total offers, including FBS offers from Northern Illinois, Wyoming and Air Force. He chose NDSU and it benefited the Bison long before they thought it would.

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Wisniewski played sparingly thru the early part of the spring season, mainly on special teams. But after starting outside linebacker James Kaczor was hurt in the regular season finale against South Dakota State, Wisniewski was inserted into the starting lineup.

He didn't miss a beat. Wisniewski ended up leading the Bison in tackles with nine as NDSU knocked off Eastern Washington, 42-20. He was back in the starting lineup the following week had another six tackles in the loss to Sam Houston.

Wisniewski has proven he's ready for the big stage, now it's a matter of reps. NDSU brings back all of its linebackers for the fall in Kaczor, Jasir Cox and Jackson Hankey. Linebackers coach Grant Olson knows better than most about trying to rotate some guys out at that spot, since he played 95 percent of the reps when he played.

But it's a nice luxury for NDSU to have at this position and Wisniewski seems primed to be the the next impact linebacker whenever that time comes.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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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