Fargo South's Sibomana says move to linebacker for Bison fits his playing style
NDSU linebacker Enock Sibomana, a Fargo South graduate, is making the transition to outside linebacker after starting his Bison football career at safety.
FARGO — North Dakota State linebackers coach Grant Olson said when the Bison recruited Enock Sibomana out of high school, the following was evident — he played physical, he could tackle and he liked to hit.
Those traits are part of the reason the Fargo South graduate moved to linebacker after he was at safety in his first season in the Bison football program last fall.
“They looked at the safety room and the room was deep, and I was a young guy they saw potential in and they moved me,” said Sibomana, a redshirt freshman.
Olson compared Sibomana to the mold of senior linebacker James Kaczor or former Bison strong safety Colten Heagle. Kaczor started at safety before NDSU moved him to an outside linebacker spot.
“All those (strong safeties) who have been really good could easily transition to linebacker,” Olson said. “The opportunity for (Sibomana) to get on the field faster to make an impact was going to be at linebacker.”
The 5-foot-10, 204-pound Sibomana played in one game last season as part of the NCAA’s four-game rule so he didn’t lose a season of eligibility. He was a three-year starter at South and a team captain for the Bruins his senior season , playing running back and safety.
Sibomana said playing outside linebacker for NDSU is a position change that suits him.
“It definitely fits my playing style more,” Sibomana said. “I like to be in the box, it allows me to be close to the ball and be physical with the linemen and the running backs and the tight ends.”
Olson said Sibomana has shown marked improvement from last spring to this fall camp.
“He’s so much more comfortable in the defense,” Olson said. “He knows the calls, he knows the communication. That’s one of the biggest things a young guy needs to make sure he understands.”
Sibomana said he’s learning more about the Bison defense each day as fall camp progresses.
“I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable because the coaches always push us extremely hard so we don’t feel comfortable,” Sibomana said. “This fall camp the playbook feels more understandable than it did last year. I’m still not comfortable because you can never be comfortable. … The physical part is there, the athleticism part is there, now it’s finding little things here and there to add to your game and improving every day.”
The Bison are slated to start the regular season Sept. 3 against Drake at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in nonconference play. Sibomana is likely to make more contributions on special teams during his young Bison career as he becomes more comfortable at linebacker.
“We take pride in special teams,” Sibomana said.
“He’s going to make an impact on special teams and hopefully we’ll find ways to get him in and see what he can do defensively,” Olson added. “His role right now is to be a special teams demon for us. It’s to fly around and make a bunch of plays on special teams as he continues to work in at linebacker.”
Sibomana said veteran linebackers like Kaczor and redshirt junior Luke Weerts have done a good job leading the position group. Weerts is competing for the starting middle linebacker spot along with junior Nick Kubitz. Kaczor has been a regular at outside linebacker for the Bison since his sophomore season in 2019 when he transitioned from safety.
“We all ask each other questions and we’re basically like a brother building together,” Sibomana said, referring to the linebackers.
Olson is hoping that Sibomana has the chance to get some game reps at linebacker, especially early in the season before the Bison start their Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule.
“I think he'll do a really nice job wherever he’s in at,” Olson said. “I know he’s going to play hard. If you can show up and play your tail off, you’ve got a chance as a freshman.”