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'It's a dream come true'; Mandan's Duttenhefer stepping into larger role on Bison defense

Jaxon Duttenhefer was named to the Missouri Valley All-Newcomer team this fall.

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North Dakota State's Jaxon Duttenhefer sacks Youngstown State’s Mitch Davidson during their football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO - When Jaxon Duttenhefer signed with North Dakota State in December of 2020, he was fulfilling a lifelong dream to play for the Bison.

Fast forward nearly two full years later and Duttenhefer says reality has beaten the dream.

"It's an absolute dream come true and I said it when I committed and I wasn't in the program. Now I'm in the program for a year and a half and it is what it is and more than that." Duttenhefer said earlier this week.

The 2022 season has been a roller coaster ride for Duttenhefer. He was expecting to play a role on the defensive line this season, but when All-American defensive tackle Eli Mostaert broke his leg in the second game of the season, the time was now for the redshirt freshman from Mandan. But there were definitely some growing pains early in the season as the Bison rushing defense had some tough moments at Arizona and Indiana State.

"I feel like I'm playing free-er. Early on in the year, I was like, I gotta do my job, I have to be in my gap. Now I'm a little more comfortable, and it's like how can I make this play?"

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Duttenhefer's patience has been rewarded. He was named to the Missouri Valley All-Newcomer team, racking up 27 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks, including two sacks in the last three games. All the while Duttenhefer has represented his hometown with immense pride.

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North Dakota State's Jaxon Duttenhefer celebrates his tackle on Illinois State's Keondre Jackson at the Fargodome on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.
David Samson/Forum Communications Co.

"I went Black Friday shopping back home a couple of weeks ago and I saw some of my old teachers and coaches, and it's always a warm welcome. It's always great to hear the support back home, I am blessed to be in the position I am in. Coming from Mandan, I can show any kid out there, you put your mind to it, this program, this town, it can send you places."

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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