Jensen, Mohler and Thorton all battling for QB job

FARGO - Running back Wes Hudson zigzagged for a 55-yard touchdown run. Cornerback Marcus Williams turned an interception into a touchdown for the defense.

Esley Thorton
North Dakota State quarterback Esley Thorton gets tripped up on a quarterback keeper during a scrimmage on Sunday at Dacotah Field. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO - Running back Wes Hudson zigzagged for a 55-yard touchdown run. Cornerback Marcus Williams turned an interception into a touchdown for the defense.

That was the extent of the scoring in North Dakota State's first spring football scrimmage Sunday afternoon at Dacotah Field. It provided the first look at what is now a three-horse race for the starting quarterback position between sophomore Brock Jensen, junior Jose Mohler and freshman Esley Thorton.

It appears Jensen has the lead at the first turn.

"I thought Brock had a good day," said head coach Craig Bohl. "He was probably the best of the three, but we have to evaluate the tape."

A quarterback position battle is nothing new for Mohler and Jensen; both have been going at it since last spring.


"That experience goes a long way," Jensen said. "I'm one year older and hopefully one year wiser."

Thorton, however, showed he's ready to be thrown into the mix. The 6-foot-3 left-hander from Bismarck completed 5 of 8 passes for 59 yards. Jensen took the first snaps, Thorton the second and Mohler was the third quarterback to play. Senior quarterback Dante Perez did not take a snap.

It was the first time this spring that the quarterbacks were allowed to get hit.

"I came in here knowing nothing was going to be given to me," Thorton said. "I just have to keep competing. That's what everyone is doing."

Jensen completed 7 of 10 passes for 86 yards and Mohler was 2 of 8 for 19 yards with Williams taking one of his attempts the other way. Hudson got the equalizer for the offense with his long run.

A cornerback as a redshirt freshman last fall, he was switched to running back this spring. It's a crowded depth chart with senior D.J. McNorton the starter and sophomore Sam Ojuri the apparent No. 1 backup. Sophomore Derrick Lang got some short-yardage situational experience last season.

Hudson, from Houston, never played defense until getting to NDSU.

"I'm happy wherever they want to put me," he said. "I came here to play football, not a position. I came here to play for the Bison. I guess they felt I would be more comfortable on the offensive side."


Wide receiver Trevor Gebhart looked comfortable on the offensive side with five catches for 85 yards. Defensively, Williams added three pass breakups and defensive end Cole Jirik had two quarterback sacks and two quarterback hurries.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found


Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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