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'He's a talented young man': Bison receiver Hart has flashed big-play ability in limited opportunities

NDSU junior receiver DJ Hart is coming off a two-catch performance against South Dakota.

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North Dakota State's D.J. Hart makes a reception against South Dakota during their football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Vermillion, South Dakota.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO — Earlier this season, North Dakota State receiver DJ Hart went in motion and then took a quick shovel pass from quarterback Cam Miller before Hart weaved through the defense for a 55-yard gain against North Carolina A&T.

While the play was called back due to a penalty, Hart showed his speed and elusiveness in the open field.

“He’s made some big plays for us going all the way back to last year,” Bison head coach Matt Entz said. “We’ve got to find ways to get him the football. He’s a talented young man.”

The 5-foot-11, 191-pound junior has had limited opportunities this season in the passing game with NDSU averaging 265.5 rushing yards per game. Hart could be in line for more chances as the Missouri Valley Football Conference season progresses. The Bison (3-1, 1-0 MVFC) host Youngstown State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.

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NDSU is playing its first home game since Sept. 10. From Atlanta, Ga., Hart said he’s getting more comfortable with the Bison offense in his third season in the program.

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“I’ve learned you just have to be prepared for everything,” Hart said. “When your time is coming, be ready to make that play.”

Hart had two catches for 15 yards in a 34-17 road victory against South Dakota last weekend. He has three catches for 20 yards for the season to go along with one rushing attempt for 2 yards.

Entz was impressed with the quality of catches that Hart had against the Coyotes.

“He did a really good job,” Entz said. “He went up and caught two contested balls that were really good.”

Hart has been targeted four times this season for his three catches with no drops, according to Pro Football Focus. Hart also had a 26-yard reception against James Madison in the NCAA Division I FCS semifinals last season.

The Bison are averaging a shade above 15 pass attempts per game this season. Hart is tied for fifth on the team with three catches. Senior tight end Noah Gindorff leads the team with six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, but Gindorff is set to miss a second consecutive game due to injury.

Senior receiver Zach Mathis has five catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

“Winning is definitely a No. 1 priority,” Hart said.

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Hart added senior receiver Phoenix Sproles and junior Braylon Henderson have helped him develop during his time in the program.

“He’s been a good mentor to me, helping me on and off the field,” Hart said of Sproles. “He’s been a very good leader for me.”

Henderson has also been instrumental for Hart.

“That’s my guy,” Hart said. “He’s been the best one to help me grow as a teammate as a person since I’ve been here.”

The Bison are averaging 40.2 points per game through four contests and 120.0 passing yards per game. Hart has confidence with the receivers on the team and said the offense has yet to reach its full potential.

“I feel like all of us could be that guy. We have so much potential in the receiving room,” Hart said. “I feel like we’re definitely getting there. There is so much more we can put into the tank, I feel like we will get there.”

Miller has completed 33 of 52 passes (64%) for 451 yards and five touchdowns with one interception.

“Cam, he’s going to be that guy,” Hart said. “I already know it.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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