Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 10 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate.
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A year ago, UND's John Santiago was an unknown true freshman expected to make an impact at wide receiver and on special teams. On Monday, the sophomore was named a unanimous pick for preseason all-Big Sky Conference running back at the league's media event in Park City, Utah. Santiago, an Andover, Minn., native, is coming off a buzzworthy freshman season in which the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder was named a second team Associated Press All-American and co-Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year.
UND coach Bubba Schweigert released a roster and pre-fall depth chart Saturday as he and quarterback Keaton Studsrud head to Park City, Utah, for the annual Big Sky Conference Football Kickoff event. The depth chart lacked surprises with UND returning 16 lettermen on offense and 20 on defense. The closest-watched competition of the fall will be along the offensive line, where UND graduated center Colton Boas, as well as veteran guards Brandon Anderson and Sean Meehan.
A day after the UND football program confirmed the loss of a former FBS transfer defensive back, the Fighting Hawks gained an FBS transfer on the other side of the ball. Former Texas State wide receiver Demun Mercer has been added to the roster, UND coach Bubba Schweigert announced on Friday. UND also announced the addition of punter Austin Dussold, who comes to UND from Division II Missouri S&T.
Jim Cox doesn't have fond memories of college football in Minnesota. In the late 1970s, Cox played for Division III Buena Vista (Iowa) against St. John's in Collegeville, Minn. "We lost in maybe the coldest game ever played," Cox said. "It had to be 60 degrees below zero. That was before Under Armour and blowers on the sideline." Those bad memories didn't shy Cox away from returning to Minnesota to coach junior college football. Northland Community & Technical College, based in Thief River Falls, announced Thursday that Cox has been hired as head football coach.
The UND football program's depth at cornerback took a hit this offseason. Backup corner Jahmere Irvin-Sills, a transfer from Mississippi State, has left the program, he confirmed on Thursday. As a sophomore in 2015, Irvin-Sills appeared in all 11 games as a reserve cornerback. He finished the season with 25 tackles and an interception in a win over No. 19 Montana State on Oct. 31. It's unclear where Irvin-Sills, a Rivals three-star recruit out of high school in Maryland, plans to transfer.
It's only July but the Big Sky Conference football media days are just around the corner. The annual event, held in Park City, Utah, at the beginning of next week hasn't had a ton of excitement for UND fans in the past if you're looking for hoopla. The Big Sky releases preseason all-conference teams and polls during the event, and the Fighting Hawks never got a lot of love, and deservedly so for the most part. The usual Park City hype is piled on Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington—the three teams who previously have dominated the league.
The Grand Forks sports community is rallying around one of its own. Veteran Grand Forks radio voice Scott Swygman currently is being treated for Stage 4 kidney cancer, prompting friends and family of Swygman to organize a benefit to help defray medical expenses. Tim Hennessy, the longtime voice of UND men's hockey, has partnered with Swygman off and on for more than 20 years on the pair's Tim & Swyg in the Morning Show on 1440 AM The Fan. Hennessy said the feedback for the benefit has been remarkable.
At noon on Wednesday, Kade Spencer was in Crookston playing centerfield for East Grand Forks' Babe Ruth baseball team. About 2 p.m., the 15-year-old played in the second game of the doubleheader sweep in Crookston at first base. By 9:30 p.m., Spencer was on the mound for the East Grand Forks American Legion team, putting the finishing touches on an improbable 12-10 win over Fergus Falls at Stauss Park. East Grand Forks lost the first game of the Fergus Falls doubleheader 14-2 and trailed 9-0 in the top of the third inning in the nightcap before storming back.
UND track and field coach Kevin Galbraith has called his programs "the road warriors." The Fighting Hawks still will spend plenty of time traveling in the expansive Big Sky Conference, but UND will finally be able to host a meet, as well. The Fighting Hawks will host the UND Indoor Tune-Up on Feb. 18 at the High Performance Center, Galbraith announced Tuesday. It will be the first home indoor meet at UND since the spring of 1985.
The Fargo Post 2 American Legion baseball team had one of its worst defensive showings of the season Tuesday night against the Grand Forks Royals at Kraft Field. Ironically, a slick defensive play sealed Fargo's 12-11 win over the Royals in 12 innings in the non-conference matchup. Despite six errors, a red-hot Post 2—coming off a 6-0 championship performance at a tournament in Fargo last weekend—improved to 27-3, a record that includes just one loss to a North Dakota opponent (West Fargo).