MOORHEAD — Minnesota State Moorhead head football coach Steve Laqua described Dragons redshirt freshman cornerback Cody Sorenson as a Clark Kent-like character.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Sorenson has a mild-mannered disposition during the week.

“Then for about three hours on Saturday he’s going to turn into ‘Superman,’ get out of that quiet, laid-back shell and change a little bit for those game days,” Laqua said.

In recent weeks, Sorenson has flashed super-hero-like ability with 11 tackles, one interception and five pass break ups over the past two games. He returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown in a road victory against Minot State a couple weeks ago.

“We’ve seen a lot of great things out of him coverage wise over the course of the least year in practice,” Laqua said. “I think it finally started to hit stride for him the last few weeks.”

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Minnesota State Moorhead freshman defensive back Cody Sorenson (26) has been a versatile player for the Dragons secondary. Marissa Shiock / Dragons Athletics
Minnesota State Moorhead freshman defensive back Cody Sorenson (26) has been a versatile player for the Dragons secondary. Marissa Shiock / Dragons Athletics

The Bismarck Century High School graduate is expected to play a key role this weekend when the Dragons host the University of Mary at noon Saturday, Oct. 23, at Scheels Field at Alex Nemzek Stadium in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play. The Marauders have one of the top passing offenses in NCAA Division II.

“I’m probably going to have some opportunities where I can either make a big play or give up a big play,” Sorenson said. “It’s being able to follow through on those if the ball comes to you’ve got to get the turnover and not give up and (deep) shot plays.”

The Dragons (3-4, 3-4 NSIC) can move their record to .500 with a victory. Sorenson leads the NSIC with 11 passes defended through seven games, an average of 1.57 per game. He has eight pass break ups this fall to go along with three interceptions.

“I have capitalized on some opportunities where the ball has come my way,” Sorenson said.

Minnesota State Moorhead freshman defensive back Cody Sorenson leads the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with 11 passes defended through seven games. Marissa Shiock / Dragons Athletics
Minnesota State Moorhead freshman defensive back Cody Sorenson leads the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with 11 passes defended through seven games. Marissa Shiock / Dragons Athletics

The ball could come Sorenson’s way often against the Marauders (2-5, 2-5) who rank second in Division II in passing offense. Senior quarterback Logan Nelson has completed 178 of 275 passes (65%) for 2,264 yards and 24 touchdowns with four interceptions. He’s averaging 323.4 passing yards per game.

Mary also features receivers Danny Kittner and Luke Little who are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the conference in receiving yards. The 5-foot-10, 187-pound Kittner has 78 catches for 1,073 yards and 12 touchdowns, while the 6-foot-4, 221-pound Little has 59 catches for 841 yards and 11 TDs.

“I think their quarterback does a good job of getting his two good guys the ball,” Sorenson said. “They’re very good and they do a good job of scheming them open.”

Sorenson has been a versatile defensive back for the Dragons in his second year in the program with the ability to play cornerback and free safety. He started at cornerback for Century during his senior season, which ended with the 2019 North Dakota Class 3A state championship. He was a one-year defensive starter for the Patriots.

“He had to bide his time at Century,” Laqua said. “I think he’s bought into the process here. He’s reaping the rewards of it.”

The process for Sorenson included no 2020 season for the Dragons due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sorenson tried to make the best of his redshirt season, even though at times it became repetitive with only practices and no games.

“I think it helped my development as a football player quite a bit,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson said his first college football season has had its ups and downs.

"You have your 'Welcome to college football' moments," he said.

Laqua said Sorenson is trending in the right direction with four games remaining in the regular season. Sorenson is a big cornerback who is effective in playing both man-to-man and zone schemes to go along with his ability to play multiple positions in the secondary,

“We think he can be a really good player,” Laqua said. “He kind of struggled early (this season) and he started to come into his own the last two weeks. Early on, I think it took some adjustment. The last two weeks I think he’s played some really good football. … A lot of times you don’t notice because he’s covering his guy and the ball doesn’t come his way.”

Sorenson said Dragons senior defensive back Shad Vedaa and sophomore safety Jared Kallenbach are two teammates who helped him the most with his play on the field.

Sorenson said he’s excited for the final four regular season games and hopes the Dragons are able to improve on finishing off close games. MSUM has three losses in which it has surrendered fourth-quarter leads.

“We’ve played pretty good football, we just haven’t finished some of our games. I’m excited to see how we finish (the season),” Sorenson said. “It’s frustrating that we haven’t been able to win them, but you can’t be mad that we’ve put ourselves in situations to be in those games.”