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For Nick DeLuca, it's back to the grind on the coaching end of Bison football

Former star linebacker working with coaches, strength and conditioning staff

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Former North Dakota State linebacker Nick DeLuca watches drills during the opening day of practice at Dacotah Field on Thursday, August 4, 2022. DeLuca is interning on the Bison strength training staff.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — A familiar face returned to the North Dakota State football practice field this week. Only this time, Nick DeLuca is helping prepare Bison players to wreak havoc on an offense much like he did as a player.

The former linebacker will have a dual role of helping with the strength and conditioning staff in the weight room and assisting Bison coaches on the field. It's his first foray into football since his last pro season with the XFL in 2020.

DeLuca played two years in the NFL with three different teams: Tennessee, Jacksonville and Miami.

"You have to cut your losses at some point and be able to realize it's time to move forward, and I'm excited to be here and continue being back in football," DeLuca said. "It's really a passion of mine."

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North Dakota State's Nick DeLuca chases Sam Houston State's Yedidiah Louis during the FCS semifinals at the Fargodome on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. David Samson / The Forum
David Samson/Forum Communications Co.

DeLuca will help with the Bison linebackers and special teams, two areas he excelled at when he was a player. Not only was he a bruising tackler at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, he often was one of the first players to reach a returner on kickoff coverage teams, a testament to his speed.

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The internship, he said, is a chance for him to see if he wants to get into the coaching side of football.

DeLuca was a consensus first-team All-American in 2017 after battling through a few injuries in his career, most notably a shoulder injury that caused him to miss most of the 2016 season.

"It's so good to have him back, a former player who had an unbelievable amount of success," said Bison head coach Matt Entz. "He's a Bison, but also knows what it was like in the NFL, so I think he can be a great tool and resource for our current team."

It's been a different perspective being on the coaching side of the game. He's getting an up-close view to the details that go into it, both with the football coaches and strength staff.

"You see how much work the coaches put in," DeLuca said. "You know what they do, but it's different when you're looking at it and seeing it. Just how collaborative they are and the kind of minds that go into everything."

The work days are long, anywhere from 6 or 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

"So yeah, definitely back to that grind," DeLuca said.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback Austin Johnson (46) is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Nick DeLuca (57) during the second half of an August 30, 2018 game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports
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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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