FARGO - North Dakota State's football team has enjoyed a stretch of roster tranquility over the last decade. That is about to change with the spring season coming up.
The Bison will be without ten seniors when practice begins on January 22nd, including starting center Karson Schoening, who has decided to move on from football after five years in the program. Schoening started all 16 games in the 2019 season and was the starting center for the game against Central Arkansas in October.
He graduated in December with a degree in crop and weed sciences. Schoening told the Forum in October: "“I know I have a great family, great girlfriend and the future is looking good there,” he said. “And when it comes to the football side, I’ve always wanted to play in the NFL, just trying to make a decision that would be best for me.”
Schoening opens the door for potentially West Fargo's Zach Willis to take over at center. That will be a decision for NDSU's new offensive line coach to make as the Bison will have to find a new center and left tackle, with Dillon Radunz opting out of the spring to pursue his NFL career.
Underwood (MN) native Matt Biegler was put on scholarship for the 2020 season after a solid year at defensive tackle for the former walk-on. Biegler was a huge part of the success up front in 2019, finishing with 27 tackles, four of them for loss. Biegler had a decision to make since he graduated in May of 2020. He was going to play during the fall, but with the season moving to the spring, Biegler, who had an engineering job waiting for him, decided to move on from football.
There will be change in the Bison quarterback room as well. Noah Sanders will move on after he graduated in December. Sanders was the number three quarterback during his time in Fargo, working under Easton Stick in 2018 and then the backup to Trey Lance in 2019. Sanders finished his career playing in three games, throwing one pass in the 2019 season opener against Butler. Sanders graduated with a degree in Human Development and Family Science.
Those three players join Beau Pauly, Josh Howieson, Aaron Mercadel, Justice Kelly, Quinn Alo, Andy Voyen and Trevor Heit who have graduated and moving on with their lives. Fellow senior Adam Cofield entered the NCAA transfer portal and announced last month that he has transferred to FBS school Western Kentucky. When you add in the departures of Jabril Cox, Radunz and Lance, who declared for the NFL Draft in October, that's 13 players not returning for the Bison in the spring.
There are some roster additions and number changes for the spring season. Quincy Patterson II is officially listed on the roster, he'll wear number 16. Patterson transferred from Virginia Tech last month, he is ineligible for the spring season currently. Sophomore defensive end Tony Pierce has changed his number from 90 to 5. There will still be a Radunz wearing 75, Dillon's younger brother Nick will wear that number going forward.
Lastly, incoming freshman Nasir Howell has enrolled early at NDSU. The Georgia native will play safety for the Bison and will wear number 30. He is ineligible for the spring season.
NDSU players began walkthroughs and meetings with the Bison coaching staff late last week. Practice begins on January 22nd, leading up to the spring opener on Sunday, February 21st against Youngstown State at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.