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Signing day perfect remedy for Bison recruit going through cancer treatments

JoJo Azure from Green Bay halfway through chemo treatments and expects to be ready for summer workouts

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The North Dakota State Twitter announcement of JoJo Azure from Green Bay, Wis., signing his letter of intent.
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FARGO — National Signing Day on Wednesday was a mix of the usual thankfulness for colleges landing their prospects and for the players to have a clear path to their future. For JoJo Azure from Green Bay, Wis., there was an additional spoonful of gratitude.

He not only signed his letter of intent with North Dakota State, he revealed he’s halfway through his chemotherapy treatments for testicular cancer and is well on his way to being in Fargo for the start of summer workouts in early June.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Azure, from Bay Port High School, was the Wisconsin High School Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year, something he found out when he was at a hospital for the first day of cancer treatment.

“My head coach and a bunch of my teammates came and surprised me to tell me,” Azure said. “That was a really special moment.”

He was one of 20 high school players to sign with the Bison, a list that included local players Brennan Palmer and Oliver Lucht from Davies and Austin Schultz from Moorhead.

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Azure’s number of note are his chemotherapy treatments. He has six weeks remaining.

“It’s been going really well,” he said.

And so did the conversation with NDSU after his diagnosis. Azure verbally committed last summer.

“I was worried at first but as soon as I talked to coach Entz, he was right there in my corner for me and nothing but support from the whole football staff at NDSU,” Azure said. “They’ve been really great about it.”

Entz said the plan is for him or one of the Bison coaches to travel to Green Bay in the next several weeks and sit with Azure during one of this treatments.

"He's an unbelievable kid, has a smile, has handled it like a champ," Entz said. "He's maintained his weight. He knows the Bison care and I think a lot of members of our football team after his visit probably got a pretty good idea on what was going on. I think they've been supportive as well."

Azure is a relative late bloomer to football for one major reason: he was home schooled for the most part, later attended a private school in Green Bay that didn’t play football – he played soccer – and didn’t pick up the sport until he transferred to Bay Port for his sophomore season.

“I go to Bay Port, asked my coach, ‘What do you want me to play? I’ve never played a day in my life,’” Azure said. “He put me with the linebackers.”

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It didn’t take him long to figure out the game. And that was a shortened COVID-19 season in the fall of 2020 that turned into an alternate season in the spring of 2021. The fact he excelled in such a short period of time is unique.

"I think just bite down on your mouthpiece and just go," Entz said. "That's just the type of kid he is. He's a kid that loves the weight room."

Azure will start his career at NDSU on offense. The Bison project him as a fullback/tight end in much the same manner as departing NFL prospect Hunter Luepke.

“I love the way they use fullbacks and tight ends, I would love to do that,” he said.

NDSU Signing Day recruits:

JoJo Azure, 6-1, 227, FB-TE, Green Bay, Wis. (Bay Port HS)

CharMar Brown, 5-11, 206, RB, Omaha (Creighton Prep)

Jaylin Crumby, 5-11, 186, DB, Tampa (Armwood HS)

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Trey Drake, 6-3, 206, QB, Jamestown, N.Y. (Jamestown HS)

Jailen Duffie, 5-11, 165, DB, Vernon Hills, Ill. (Warren Township HS)

Josh Hendricks, 6-1, 204, LB, Grimes, Iowa (Dallas Center-Grimes HS)

Victor Isele, 6-2, 221, DE, Grand Island, Neb. (Northwest HS)

Beau Johnson, 6-5, 241, OL, Spring Lake Park, Minn. (Spring Lake Park HS)

Collin Knorr, 6-4, 210, TE, Coleharbor, N.D. (South Prairie HS)

Jack Liwienski, 6-3, 290, OL, Chanhassen, Minn. (Minnetonka HS)

Oliver Lucht, 6-1, 208, LB, Fargo (Davies HS)

Abraham Myers, 6-2, 222, DE, Sioux Falls, S.D. (Washington HS)

Najee Nelson, 5-11, 176, DB, Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville North HS)

Brennan Palmer, 6-4, 237, DE, Fargo (Davies HS)

Jaiden Pickett, 6-1, 192, LB, Milwaukee (Riverside University HS)

Nate Schneckloth, 6-5, 264, OL, Eldridge, Iowa (North Scott HS)

Austin Schultz, 6-3, 284, OL, Moorhead (Moorhead HS)

Reese Sheldon, 6-1, 186, DB, Cloquet, Minn. (Cloquet HS)

Noah Taylor, 6-0, 198, DB, Lemont, Ill. (Lemont Township HS)

Keenan Wilson, 6-1, 284, DT, Eagan, Minn. (Eagan HS)

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Austin Schultz runs a drill during football practice Monday, Aug. 29, 2022, at Moorhead High School.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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