FARGO — North Dakota State will go with youth under center.
Bison head coach Matt Entz named redshirt freshman Trey Lance as the starting quarterback Monday for the team's season opener Aug. 31 against Butler University at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The 6-foot-3, 221-pound redshirt freshman was in competition with junior FBS transfer Zeb Noland and sophomore Noah Sanders for the starting spot. Lance played in two games last season, using the new NCAA rule that allows players to play in up to four games and keep their redshirt. Lance threw and completed one pass, and rushed for two touchdowns in his game action against North Alabama and South Dakota.
"At the end of the day I thought Trey had an outstanding fall camp up to this point, has continued to improve every day," Entz said. "My challenge to the (quarterback) room was to continue to develop one another. Iron sharpens iron."
Entz said Noland is the clear No. 2 on the quarterback depth chart ahead of Sanders. Noland played in five games for Iowa State last season, completing 70 of 110 passes for 772 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
"All three of these quarterbacks can help us win football games and probably will help us win football games in 2019," Entz said.
Entz said now that the competition for the starting quarterback spot has been decided, the team can focus on Butler.
"It takes away the uncertainty that was probably there," Entz said. "It was a white elephant in the room. Everyone was waiting for it do be one way or the other."
Lance was a highly touted recruit out of Marshall, Minn., in 2018. He was the first player to commit to NDSU for the 2018 class. He was a three-year starter at Marshall High School, twice leading the Tigers to the Minnesota 4A state football tournament. Marshall lost in the state semifinals to Benilde-St. Margaret's in 2016 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Lance dressed for all 15 games for the Bison last season, traveling on the road with the team, much like former Bison quarterback Easton Stick did as a true freshman in 2014 to learn from Carson Wentz. Stick is now a rookie quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers. Wentz is entering his fourth season as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Being able to spend time with (Stick) last year was one of the coolest things for me," Lance said. “I don’t think I would be anywhere near where I am today without all the extra help that he gave me that he didn’t need to.”
Welcome to the Herd, kid.— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) September 15, 2018
Trey Lance sprints 44 yards to the house, capping his first collegiate drive with a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/6Ucxujm7x6
Lance's one completion last season went for 12 yards. He also rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns on eight attempts in his two games. Lance said making every road trip and preparing for all 15 games last season was helpful, even though he saw limited game action.
"Now, I know what to expect," Lance said.
Lance added he's focused on improving with the regular season set to start in less than two weeks.
"I'm getting better every day still," Lance said. "There's no way I have arrived or anything like that."
Noland came to Fargo last January after transferring from Iowa State. He was a sophomore last season and had a 360-yard, two-touchdown performance against Oklahoma for the Cyclones. He's the most seasoned of the Bison quarterbacks on the roster as a junior.
"Nothing's going to change," Lance said. "We're going to compete every day just like we have been. We're going to win and lose games as a room, collectively. I might be on the field, but I need those guys. I need Noah and I need Zeb to get me through this, help us win games."
Lance said he is excited to make his first collegiate start at Target Field.
"It's going to be huge," Lance said. "I'm a Minnesota guy so it'll be pretty fun to have a lot of family there."