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NDSU works to replace Mays

North Dakota State assistant football coach Kyle Nystrom sounded like a presidential candidate who had just gone through 10 speeches in one day. Teaching young linebackers can make a person sound hoarse.

North Dakota State assistant football coach Kyle Nystrom sounded like a presidential candidate who had just gone through 10 speeches in one day. Teaching young linebackers can make a person sound hoarse.

But that was the state of the position after Monday's practice. Joe Mays graduated in the middle. His successor, junior Tyler Henry, is out with a knee injury.

On the outside, senior Mike Maresh is out with a wrist injury.

"We have a lot of work to do," Nystrom said.

Freshman Eddie Beson, who is getting the first look at middle linebacker, was in a unique position last fall as a true freshman. He was one of the 53 players to make the travel squad, but the only one who was hoping not to play.

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He was brought along as an emergency backup, but he also wanted to preserve his redshirt status.

"I was hoping I wouldn't have to go on the field because I want to be here another four years yet," Beson said.

At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, he's not as heavy as the 245-pound Mays. He may not be as fast, either.

"But he's shown he has the ability to hit people," said defensive coordinator Willie Mack Garza.

Plus, speed is a relative term.

"He doesn't run great when you time him in the 40, he runs OK," Nystrom said. "But he runs better with the helmet on. And he's pretty physical when he gets to the ball."

The other outside linebacker position has a veteran presence with senior Ramon Humber and junior Matt Kittelson. Sophomore Matt Anderson saw limited action backing up Maresh last year.

Freshman Luke Senger is second string behind Beson.

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"It's difficult right now, especially installing as many schemes as we do as fast as we do," Nystrom said. "Both of them are confused; there's a lot of stuff coming at them. They're going to make mistakes, but they all do at this point in their career."

Henry is expected back at full speed for full practice.

"He's the guy we're expecting to take over," Nystrom said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com

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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