Jeff Kolpack / Forum News Service
FARGO—When Seth Wilson traveled to Fargo from his hometown of Holmen, Wis., to watch North Dakota State spring football, he did more than just sit there and observe. He brought a notebook and took notes. Last week, the freshman running back brought it out as a source of review after the Bison removed his redshirt and put him in the rotation for the Northern Iowa game. Getting ready for a Missouri Valley Football Conference game is like cramming for a midterm test: a lot of options to go over in so little time.
FARGO — Asked to name the toughest player on the North Dakota State football team, head coach Chris Klieman said he wouldn't want to do that out of the risk of discrediting the other players. Suffice to say, there are plenty of options on the team. "We have a lot of tough kids," Klieman said. You want "North Dakota tough," which became trendy this week thanks to Jon Gruden's nationally televised affinity for Carson Wentz on Monday Night Football? You could make a case it starts with the head man himself.
FARGO—Football has taken Jackson Koonce on a road trip to more places than he probably could have imagined. From his hometown of Oceanside, Calif., to Southern Methodist University (Texas) for a couple of years and then to North Dakota State, the country has been reduced in size in his book. "Yeah, I've gotten to experience all of America," Koonce said. "And that's kind of the point of college, is to experience new things and I've gotten to see a bunch of new things."
FARGO—Monday marked a milestone of sorts for North Dakota State football in terms of combining excellence and consistency. The Bison maintained their No. 2 standing in the STATS.com top 25 poll—the 100th straight week NDSU reached the FCS media rankings. The Bison have appeared in every poll since Nov. 1, 2010. "The amazing thing about the run is they should have been ranked 1 or 2 almost the entire time," said Craig Haley, FCS senior editor for STATS. "When they weren't, they probably should have been. They've been the FCS standard."
FARGO — North Dakota State vs. Western Illinois. History tells us nobody wants to play this game on their home football turf, just based on past results. Say all you want about the great home-field advantage of Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. You can talk all you want about the obscene noise affecting opposing teams. You can reference all day about "Georgia Southern loud" or "Northern Iowa loud," pointing to perhaps the highest decibel levels ever recorded in FCS football.
FARGO—It sounds odd because he moves just a couple of feet over on the line of scrimmage, but North Dakota State sophomore Cole Karcz is becoming a two-way player for the Bison. He's splitting his time these days between defensive tackle and defensive end. The big picture is Karcz is becoming more valuable by the day.
FARGO—It's a badge of honor of sorts when it comes to unofficial titles with the North Dakota State football team. There are two cornerbacks on defense, with one of them being designated as the "shutdown corner." Marcus Williams was the master of the role in his time with the Bison. He is the program's interception leader with 21. When Williams left for the NFL after the 2013 season, the baton to his role was passed on to CJ Smith, who took the job and parlayed it into his own NFL experience.
FARGO — You know him as the WDAY-TV sports director who graduated from a college that has more names than a North Dakota high school football co-op. Dominic Izzo hails from the State University of New York at Oswego. There could be a "college," "institution" or "academy" in that name somewhere, but you get the idea.
FARGO—The total yards James Hendricks produced as a quarterback in high school added up to almost 3½ miles, which is a long way if you're trying to sprint a 5K much less grind it out on a 100-yard football field.
FARGO — The genesis of North Dakota State football as we know it today was in 1963, the year after the squad put together an 0-10 season. It wasn't exactly a friendly start to '63, either, with a season-opening 31-14 loss to Moorhead State. It was the second straight defeat to the Dragons and you could probably surmise the few Bison fans of those days were rolling their eyes as to say, here we go again. Inside the locker room walls, however, things were changing.