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NDSU football building young depth at linebacker position

NDSU football has one returning starter at the linebacker position heading into the 2022 season

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NDSU linebacker Jame Kaczor makes a tackle during a game against Youngstown State
WDAY Sports
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FARGO — It's a critical fall camp for NDSU's defense. With veteran starters Jackson Hankey graduating and Jasir Cox transferring to West Virginia, there's two holes to fill at the linebacker position.

While two key players might be missing this season, NDSU's linebacker corps still has depth. Young depth.

"We've got a good group here don't we," said Bison linebackers coach Grant Olson. "They're unproven, yes as far as fans are concerned, but they're proven in practices. "

The lone fifth year veteran is James Kaczor. He played in nine of fifteen games collecting 15 tackles and one sack for the Bison, but delt with a hamstring injury throughout the season.

“When James is in you can just tell there’s a difference with even that much more confidence, that much more speed. He really flashes," said Olson. "I think his biggest challenge is going to be letting the game come to him.”

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Junior, Cole Wisniewski had an explosive 2021season. For right now, the junior is focusing on getting back on the field after injuring his Achilles in the winter. 

“I’m doing really well, I’m sure if you’ve seen me out at practice I've been running and that running is expedited quickly," said Wisnewski. "That started just a few weeks ago and  I’m already up to a pretty good speed here."

Battling for the starting spot at middle linebacker is junior Nick Kubitz, a special teams menace. As well as red shirt junior Luke Weerts, who missed the majority of last season with a serious back injury.  

"It’s great competition between me and Nick," said Weertz. "I embrace the competition and I know he does. We've both been getting better. ”

As the first game of the season is on the horizon, competition will be ramped up at fall camp.

"It’s too close for us to make a decision right now," said NDSU fotbbal head coach Matt Entz. "Being able to process the information and get the right information communicated, that’s critical.”

Julian Wlodarcyzk, a senior was moved from safety to linebacker this off season. A spot NDSU’s coaching staff believes the 6’3, 207 pound player is more suited for. 

Also getting in on the mix is red shirt freshman Logan Kopp and sophomore Oscar Benson.

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“Oscar Benson is really accelerating at a fast level," said Olson. "Logan Kopp is also accelerating at a fast level. So those next year guys that maybe a lot of Bison fans don’t know their name are playing really well,” the linebackers coach added.

With three weeks until kick-off, Matt Entz will have plenty of decision to make as the Bison chase their tenth National Championship. 

As of today, Cole Wisnewski is the only player expected to miss NDSU's season opener against Drake on September 3rd.

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