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'It's pretty surreal:' Kindred's Riley Sunram has 3 D-I football offers, with 1 FBS, entering junior season

Kindred Vikings lineman Riley Sunram has received scholarship offers from Minnesota, NDSU and UND for football.

Kindred Vikings lineman Riley Sunram
Kindred Vikings rising junior Riley Sunram has received scholarship offers from Minnesota, NDSU and UND.
Ryan Sunram / Special to The Forum
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KINDRED, N.D. — Kindred Vikings rising junior Riley Sunram’s goal was to get on the Minnesota Golden Gophers' radar when he attended their football camp near the end of July.

He exceeded those expectations.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Sunram left the Twin Cities with a scholarship offer from head coach P.J. Fleck, Sunram’s third NCAA Division I offer this summer.

“I never thought it would start this early, I thought maybe it would start after this (high school) season,” Sunram said. “It’s been pretty exciting with the three offers I’ve gotten. It’s pretty surreal. It doesn’t feel like it’s happening yet.”

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck and Kindred Vikings lineman Riley Sunram.
Kindred Vikings lineman Riley Sunram, right, recently received a scholarship offer from Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck.
Ryan Sunram / Special to The Forum

It’s been an “on-the-radar” type summer for Sunram, who also attended football camps at North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota. The 2024 recruit received his first Division I offer from NDSU in late June and UND offered him in mid-July. The Gophers were Sunram’s first FBS offer from a Power Five Conference program.

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“I never thought it would happen this summer at that level,” Ryan Sunram said of his son Riley.

Riley said the Bison have him projected to play either on the offensive or defensive line, while UND and Minnesota are looking at him as a defensive lineman. Sunram is a multiple-sport athlete at Kindred, also playing basketball and competing in track and field. He said Bison associate head football coach Randy Hedberg was at one of Kindred’s basketball games this past winter.

“I prefer D-line, I think it’s a lot more fun, to be honest,” Riley said, “but if someone wants me to play offensive line, I will do that, too.”

Riley recently received a three-star prospect rating from 247sports. He was a two-way starter for the Vikings during his sophomore season and helped Kindred win the North Dakota Class 11B state championship. He had six total tackles and a sack in a 37-14 victory against Hillsboro-Central Valley in the title game.

“Riley Sunram is one of the most technically sound players that I’ve ever coached,” Kindred head coach Matt Crane said. “He’s great with his hands and his feet, so he’s naturally in great position. He’s just getting to that size where he’s getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. He’s got a very high ceiling.”

Division I programs can’t contact Riley, who is heading into his junior season, until Sept. 1 when he can receive private and electronic communication from coaches. Minnesota, UND and NDSU were able to offer Riley since he was on campus for camp.

“We might have to stay up that night because we might get some calls,” Riley said with a laugh of the Sept. 1 date.

Riley said Kindred assistant coaches Brad Ambrosius and Nate Safe have been valuable resources. They both are former NDSU players. Ambrosius played defensive end, while Safe was an offensive lineman for the Bison.

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“I think it’s fun going to all these camps and seeing colleges and meeting with coaches, but it’s sometimes overwhelming,” Riley said.

Riley’s parents are both former Minnesota State Moorhead athletes. Ryan played tight end for the Dragons, while Jennifer (Duerr) Sunram competed in both volleyball and track and field MSUM. At the Gophers camp, Ryan said he thought it was cool he was allowed to be on the field and close to the drills for Riley.

During 1-on-1s, Ryan said Fleck called out Riley to do multiple reps in a row against a variety of other campers.

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“Fleck is standing there watching,” Ryan said. “I thought, ‘This is getting real.’”

After the camp, both Sunrams were invited to the Gophers players’ lounge and then met with Fleck in his office. That’s when Riley received his first FBS offer.

“That was pretty cool to meet (Fleck) and kind of surreal from my standpoint,” said Ryan, who is from Audubon, Minn.

Since his NDSU offer, Riley has gained Twitter followers of coaches or recruiting coordinators from various Division I programs, including Kansas State, Iowa, Illinois, Washington, Washington State and Nebraska.

“He’s had a ton of schools who have been following him recently,” Ryan said.

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“It’s unbelievable,” Crane said. “I’m incredibly excited for the kid. He’s so humble and works hard and gets after it. All the success is certainly earned.”

Riley earned Class 11B second-team, all-state honors as a defensive lineman for his sophomore season. He’s hoping for a strong junior campaign.

“We’ve still got to work for it this fall camp,” Riley said. “It won’t be easy.”

Ryan said Riley may also have to make some difficult decisions in the recruiting process, too, with multiple quality options.

“What I look for is relationships,” Riley said. “I really like having good relationships with my coach and teammates.”

Kindred Vikings lineman Riley Sunram.
Kindred Vikings lineman Riley Sunram has received three NCAA Division I football offers entering his junior season with the Vikings.
Ryan Sunram / Special to The Forum

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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