The ramp up to the 2021 North Dakota State football season continues on the Bison Media Zone.

This week we'll focus on the best individual players that the Bison will face this season.

It's not often that an underclassman can make such a big impact in his first year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, but that's exactly what South Dakota State's Isaiah Davis did in the spring. Davis, who burst on the scene as a freshman running back from Joplin, Missouri ended up leading the Jackrabbits in rushing yards as they reached their first national championship game.

Davis was a non-factor in the first couple of games for SDSU in the spring, rushing for eight yards on three carries. He burst out against Western Illinois going for 118 yards, then followed it up with 150 yards and three touchdowns on the road against Southern Illinois.

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He was a workhorse against North Dakota State, carrying the ball 16 times for 84 yards and a touchdown and added 36 yards thru the air as the Jacks won the Dakota Marker in Fargo. Davis took his game to the next level in the playoffs, twice going over 150 yards, including a remarkable 178 against Sam Houston in the national title game. Davis scored all three touchdowns the Jacks scored, one of them an 85 yard run that seemingly put the game away for SDSU.

Davis also shares the load with one of the best in the league in Pierre Strong, who was on this list last season. Strong has been an all-conference player each of his two seasons in the conference and now paired with Davis, the Jacks running game is the best in the Valley. The question will center around quarterback with SDSU with standout Mark Gronowski out after suffering a knee injury in the title game.

SDSU opens the year at Colorado State, so Davis will get his first crack against an FBS defense. He will not sneak up on anyone this fall, but it will be fascinating to see how he develops in his second go-around in the Missouri Valley.

South Dakota State's Isaiah Davis gets by North Dakota State's James Kaczor on Saturday, April 17, 2021, at the Fargodome.
David Samson / The Forum
South Dakota State's Isaiah Davis gets by North Dakota State's James Kaczor on Saturday, April 17, 2021, at the Fargodome. David Samson / The Forum