Goedert having 'dream' season for South Dakota State
FARGO — South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert nearly decided to play football for an NCAA Division II program.
"I was really close," Goedert said, referring to the offer he received from Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D. "I was hours away from committing to NSU."
Then one day, Goedert said, he woke up and decided to text SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier to let Stiegelmeier know he was going to walk-on for the Jackrabbits.
"I wanted to play at the highest level I could and SDSU was the highest place I could have went," said Goedert, who attended Britton-Hecla (S.D.) High School.
Goedert made the right choice. He's one of the most dynamic offensive players in Division I FCS. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior has 86 catches for 1,238 yards and 11 touchdowns through 12 games. The Jackrabbits (9-3) play North Dakota State (11-1) at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Fargodome.
"I didn't ever expect to be having the year I've had this year," Goedert said. "That's kind of a dream come true."
The Jackrabbits are the only team to beat NDSU this season, earning a 19-17 victory on Oct. 15 at the Fargodome. Goedert had a big day, catching 11 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown against the Bison.
"Huge catch radius," Bison linebacker Matt Plank said of Goedert. "It's like having that (Jake) Wieneke guy out there at tight end, it's like having two of them. ... We've got to be ready for two freak athletes out there trying to catch the football."
Goedert and junior wide receiver Jake Wieneke have paired to give the Jackrabbits one of the most potent 1-2 receiving combinations in FCS. Wieneke has 73 catches for 1,241 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Wieneke had six catches for 108 yards and one touchdown in the first meeting with NDSU. Wieneke's 2-yard TD catch from sophomore quarterback Taryn Christion with 1 second remaining was the game-winner.
"Winning that game gives us a lot of confidence knowing that we can beat them," Goedert said. "I'm excited to go up there and play in a great atmosphere. It's going to be fun."
Goedert has emerged as an elite receiving tight end in his fourth year in the program. Last season, he had 26 catches for 484 yards and three touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman, Goedert had eight catches for 100 yards.
"My first year, I was happy just to see the field," Goedert said. "I'm really blessed to have the team around me allowing me to do what I'm doing."
Goedert, who was also a standout basketball player in high school, has added about 50 pounds to his frame since he joined the SDSU program. Stiegelmeier said Goedert had a "ton of athletic ability" coming out of high school.
"This is all about him," Stiegelmeier said. "He changed his mindset and body and continues to develop into an unbelievable student-athlete."
NDSU and SDSU are meeting in the playoffs for the third time since 2012. The Bison earned home wins in 2012 and 2014 with both those victories coming in the second round. The Jackrabbits are making their first appearance in the FCS quarterfinals. NDSU is the five-time defending FCS national champions.
"We know we have to go through them at some time," Goedert said. "I think we like our matchup."