FARGO — The good news for Logan McCormick in the 2017 season was the North Dakota State football coaches thought enough of his ability that his redshirt was pulled. It just didn’t translate to game days.
The defensive end played in 13 of the 15 games that season, mostly on the kickoff return team. He finished the season with just three tackles, although he did recover a fumble.
But true to the way McCormick rolls in football, things have a way of working out. He never lost a game in four years in high school. And thanks to the NCAA’s new four-game rule, he didn’t lose his redshirt season, either.
The kid just keeps winning.
“So in hindsight, it was a win-win,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz.
McCormick and his coaches discussed last summer the possibility of taking advantage of the new NCAA rule, which allows a player who hasn’t redshirted to play in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility.
The fact NDSU was bringing back a loaded depth chart full of upperclassmen at defensive end made it an easier discussion. That consisted of seniors Greg Menard, Caleb Butler and Stanley Jones and junior Derrek Tuszka. It was apparent redshirt freshman Spencer Waege was ready to contribute.
“The coaches were always talking to me wondering how I felt,” McCormick said. “So we went into it with somewhat of a plan that I was going to redshirt, not knowing what was going to happen. Obviously injuries can happen.”
The plan was for McCormick to prepare every week as if he was going to use his sophomore season. He played in non-conference games against Cal Poly and North Alabama registering six tackles, one quarterback sack and a fumble recovery.
But about halfway through the year, with the Bison still healthy at the position, he turned more of his focus to weight training work with head strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer.
“I had an awesome time since I wasn’t able to do that my freshman year,” McCormick said.
He came back to play in playoff games against Colgate and South Dakota State, reaching his maximum four. If he were to do it over, McCormick said he still would have played as a true freshman.
“People can look at it and say it was a wasted opportunity, but I don’t think so,” he said. I was able to go on all the road games, got to experience everything first-hand and now it feels like I’ve been in it for five seasons.”
As it is, it’s his third spring football, which Entz says is about the time a player has to show that he’s ready to make a difference. Tuszka and Waege were listed as the starters in the initial depth chart that came out last week.
McCormick and junior Justice Kelly are both listed as backups behind Tuszka. Redshirt freshmen Bartholomew Ogbu and Tony Pierce Jr. are behind Waege.
“We have a lot of growing up to do but I think the expectations are always there,” McCormick said. “Our expectations are not going to change because we have some young players that need to step up. We’re going to push them as hard as we can right now so we can get better and better every single day from now until the first game.”
The 6-foot-2, 242-pound McCormick was on Kimberly High School teams that went 56-0 and won four Wisconsin state championships. He was a team leader then, and is now finding himself in that same role after two years of understudy work.
“He has to show up and make some plays for us this year,” Entz said.