'Every kid's dream': Kindred's Sunram spending Thanksgiving weekend on D-I football recruiting trail
Kindred junior offensive and defensive lineman Riley Sunram is slated to have two game-day visits this weekend at Power Five conference football programs.
KINDRED, N.D. — Kindred High School junior Riley Sunram has a Thanksgiving weekend filled with football that includes two game-day college visits and, hopefully, a dinner buffet as he traveled to Kansas City from Kindred on Thursday.
When the journey reaches the Omaha, Neb., area, Sunram expects to search for a good holiday meal.
“We won’t totally miss Thanksgiving,” said Sunram, who likes ham and traditional turkey.
The highly recruited NCAA Division I football prospect has a game-day visit with Missouri on Friday when it hosts Southeastern Conference foe Arkansas. Then Saturday he will be in Manhattan, Kan., for a game-day visit with Kansas State, which hosts Big 12 Conference rival Kansas.
“I love football so it’s pretty cool to go down and get two visits this weekend,” Sunram said.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Sunram has already had game-day stops at North Dakota State, Minnesota, Iowa State, Nebraska and Kansas prior to this weekend. He has eight D-I offers , including six from FBS programs. Sunram also has FCS offers from NDSU and the University of North Dakota.
Nebraska, Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas, Duke and Minnesota are his Power Five conference offers. He hasn’t yet received an offer from Missouri.
“It’s been awesome,” said Ryan Sunram, Riley’s father. “He’s living every kid’s dream and these (visits) are so awesome to be able to share that with him.”
Riley is being recruited as an offensive lineman by most of the programs, but some schools are also potentially looking at him along the defensive line.
Riley recently completed his junior football season with Kindred, which finished 10-1 and advanced to the North Dakota Class 11B quarterfinals. The season ended earlier than he would have liked.
“This makes me want to play football really bad,” Riley said of his recent game-day visits. “I wish I could play football longer. It’s kind of extended the season a little bit.”
Riley plans to make his college decision before the start of his senior football season next fall.
That’s why these game-day visits are important for Sunram.
“We’ve got to take advantage of it with Riley wanting to try and decide before next fall,” Ryan said. “We have the ability to do it so let’s do it. Riley wants to meet the coaches, too, he’s really big on that.”
Riley had seats near the Kansas bench on his visit to Lawrence last weekend. The Jayhawks played Texas, which earned a 55-14 victory. Ryan said Riley watched how the Kansas coaches interacted with the players during the game, particularly one of the defensive line coaches. He got to see how the coaches responded in an adverse situation.
“How does he deal with the players in that situation?” Ryan said. “That was a positive for that coaching staff. It was really cool to see that and how he interacts. That’s important to Riley, too. That’s why we’re doing this because you’ve got to be comfortable with this.”
Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman is a former NDSU head coach who guided the Bison to multiple FCS national championships before taking the K-State job.
“We’re big Bison fans,” Ryan said. “Riley liked watching football and watching Bison games on Saturday and went to a few so I think there’s a relation that way just knowing who (Klieman) is.”
Riley said it was cool to get an offer from Klieman after watching his success at NDSU.
“It’s kind of fun to see him at K-State now,” Riley said. “They’re doing pretty good, too.”
Riley said he's also enjoyed meeting with the different coaches, experiencing big-time, game-day atmospheres and seeing the different types of college towns.
He added making a final choice before the start of his senior football season won’t be easy.
"It’s going to be tough, but that’s what I’m hoping to do right now,” said Riley, who is a multiple-sport standout for the Vikings. “It’s difficult. Everyone says how good it is to have a lot of options, but that kind of makes it harder, too.”