Purcell leaves the team

Darius Purcell's year of upheaval continued last week. He left the North Dakota State football team for personal reasons, said head coach Craig Bohl.


Darius Purcell's year of upheaval continued last week. He left the North Dakota State football team for personal reasons, said head coach Craig Bohl.

The backup freshman strong safety, who was thrust into immediate action because of injuries to the Bison secondary, played in six games making 12 tackles and recovering one fumble.

Also leaving the team last week was offensive lineman J.J. Manowske. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound redshirt freshman from Fond du Lac, Wis., also left for personal reasons, Bohl said.

It wasn't a smooth start to college for Manowske. He missed practice time in fall camp because of academic issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

It wasn't a smooth anything for Purcell, who transferred to NDSU over the summer from the University of Illinois.


Bison coaches say a death in the family may have contributed to his decision to go back home to Chicago.

"It's tough anytime a guy leaves the program and it's not the best decision he could make," said defensive coordinator Willie Mack Garza. "We did everything we could to help him see it was not the best decision but you can't make it for him."

Garza said Purcell left a phone message thanking the NDSU coaches for the opportunity.

Purcell was originally recruited by NDSU out of Chicago Hubbard High School. He signed with the Illini, where he redshirted in 2007.

Citing a switch in positions and a general unhappiness with the program, he transferred to NDSU in late July. Injuries to starter Kyle Belmont and backup Cyrus Lemon had him playing against the University of Wyoming in the third game of the season.

"He was learning the system, he was coming along," Bohl said.

His departure means starting cornerback Nate Agbetola will also double as the backup strong safety. It essentially means Agbetola will play three positions; he's also an extra defender in passing situations, commonly called the "nickel back."

"He's listened to me talk to the strong safety for four years now," Garza said. "He picks up on things really well. He's intelligent and has a good football IQ."


NDSU plays host to Indiana State Saturday night at 6. The Bison, 4-4, are tied for 24th in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at

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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