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Spring break turned into a Florida work trip for trio of Bison players

North Dakota State QB Cam Miller and receivers Braylon Henderson and Zach Mathis recently spent a week in Florida working on their games.

North Dakota State's Braylon Henderson pulls in a pass against South Dakota State during their football game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

FARGO — Spring Break is a time for college students to get away and North Dakota State football players Cam Miller, Braylon Henderson and Zach Mathis were no different last week. They hopped a plane to Florida.

It was also a work trip, perhaps mainly a work trip, with receivers Henderson and Mathis taking advantage of Miller working with quarterbacks coach Tim Boyle, who was the backup QB with the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears last season.

Boyle was with the Green Bay Packers from 2018-20 and the Lions the following two years. Getting another set of eyes on him was all about trying to find any extra edge for Miller, who last season completed 160 of 243 passes (66%) with 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

His 1,975 yards boiled down to 12.3 yards per completion. That ranked him 49th in the FCS last season with most of the quarterbacks in the FCS playoffs ranked ahead of him.

North Dakota State quarterback Cam Miller, shown here in the FCS quarterfinal playoff game against Samford, spent his Spring Break in Florida working with an individual quarterbacks coach.
Michael Vosburg/Forum Communications Co.

If the Bison lacked one thing in the passing game, it was the inconsistency of finding the middle- to deep-route completions. Trying to find the replacement for deep threat Christian Watson from 2021 wasn’t easy.


Mathis and Henderson are just two of several returning receivers with spring practice starting on Thursday.

“We worked on timing and chemistry,” Miller said. “I thought it was a great opportunity for not only me to get better but for those guys to tag along. We spent the whole week together, we bonded and did a lot of things together.”

The daily routine went something like this: Get up around 8 a.m., have breakfast, go to the beach or hit some shops before getting down to business. Training started at 1:30 p.m. at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, Fla.

It’s a publicly built facility that, besides a football/soccer field, has a 400-meter track, track and field throws area, a 9,000-square foot community center with locker rooms, outdoor basketball courts and batting cages.

“We had everything we needed,” Henderson said. “We’re just trying to get a step ahead.”

The weather didn’t disappoint, Henderson saying it was sunny and temperatures in the mid-70s every day.

“You’re not going to get anywhere if you’re doing the same thing as the guy in front of you,” he said.

Henderson has shown spurts of explosiveness. He had 14 catches for 222 yards last year, with a long of 41. He’s looking to be a more complete receiver heading into his senior season. He led the team in yards per reception at 15.9.


North Dakota State’s Zach Mathis jumps to receive a pass against Illinois State’s Franky West during their football game on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at the Fargodome.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

“I’m really hoping to improve my tempo control, my body control,” he said. “It’s really everything in my game. I never want to be complacent. I’m trying to take that next step this year.”

Mathis led the team in catches with 35 for 520 yards. As the season progressed, he became more valuable in the third down, big-catch department. The Bison began spring football practice this week with a plethora of receivers hoping to be a part of that game plan next fall.

Six of the top eight receivers return. The next 14 practices won’t go unnoticed, Miller said.

“It’s a period of time where veterans can come together and we’ll see who emerges as the leaders of this team,” he said. “It’s also a great opportunity for these young guys to develop and get better.”

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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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