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.
- Member for
- 3 years 11 months
One of the big storylines of the 2016 UND football recruiting class was the multi-sport athleticism. Wide receivers Travis Toivonen and Noah Wanzek and tight end Hunter Pinke were prep basketball standouts and tight end Alex Cloyd was an undefeated state champion wrestler. Fighting Hawks cornerback Evan Holm, though, might have the biggest bragging rights when it comes to high school success outside football. Holm spent the spring in Europe playing for Team USA's under-17 rugby team in matches against France and Belgium.
UND senior linebacker Jawon Johnson is experiencing something completely new this week. He's fielding calls from family members looking for tickets to his game. Johnson, of East Orange, N.J., will be a key part of UND's defense in the season opener Sept. 1 at Stony Brook, N.Y., about a three-hour drive from Johnson's home. Johnson's mother, DeShawn Johnson, has never seen him play college football. He started his career at a junior college, New Mexico Military Institute, before transferring to UND.
The UND football program went to Wyoming last fall and picked up its first FBS victory during a 24-13 win over the Cowboys. At tight end, the Fighting Hawks brought Luke Mathewson, Luke Fiedler and Jacob Francis to Laramie. That established trio is back in 2016. But as fall camp has unfolded at Memorial Stadium, there's plenty of competition at that position to get on the team charter flight to Stony Brook, N.Y., for the season opener Sept. 1.
UND president Mark Kennedy has been on the job for about a month and a half. On Tuesday, the first big news of his tenure was released when he sent out an email expressing his disappointment in UND athletics for its $1.4 million budget shortfall for the 2016 fiscal year. That's a big deal here, so the question on everybody's mind was how Kennedy was going to handle the media in his Grand Forks spotlight debut? How would he come across? Would he project confidence? Would he be direct in his responses?
UND sophomore Tank Harris has the perfect nickname for a 6-foot-3, 300-pound nose guard. And as a projected starter in 2016, he looks like a natural at the position. That hasn't always been the case, however. Harris said he didn't even play defense at Morgan Park High School in Chicago. "His entire highlight tape was on offense," UND defensive line coach Jordan Gigli said. "But we saw traits we thought could transition to defense." Harris was a center in high school—an all-city selection as a junior and an all-conference pick as a senior.
When UND starting quarterback Keaton Studsrud lines up at practice and surveys the defense, he makes sure to keep tabs on Fighting Hawks safety Cole Reyes. "When he's in zone, you have to look out for him," Studsrud said. "He makes all of the big plays. He's a gamer." As the 2016 season plays outs, Studsrud won't be the only quarterback making sure he knows where No. 8 is on defense. With former UND linebacker Will Ratelle now in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, Reyes will be asked to be the Fighting Hawks' defensive leader.
UND wide receiver Josh Seibel went through a passing drill Wednesday morning at the High Performance Center. The junior adjusted his route to the ball, jumped and snagged the pass. In some ways, it was typical Seibel to make the catch with ease. However, this time there's added significance. Seibel has been going through drills the past two days just four-and-a-half months after tearing his ACL and meniscus.
North Dakota State running back Lance Dunn took a handoff from Carson Wentz and rushed to the right side. After a few yards, UND safety Cole Reyes closed in on the tackle while fellow safety Zach Arnell covered up the cutback lane. As Reyes hit Dunn, NDSU tight end Connor Wentz rolled up into Arnell's leg a few yards away from the ball carrier.
UND offensive line coach Luke Knauf joined Bubba Schweigert's coaching staff in Grand Forks in 2014 from NCAA Division II Western New Mexico, where Knauf was the offensive coordinator. At the time, Western New Mexico offensive lineman Michael Coe told his coach he wanted to come with him to North Dakota, sit out a season because of transfer rules and have two more years to play in the Big Sky Conference. It took a little longer than Coe might originally have wanted, but the offensive lineman and his position coach are reunited.
Shelby Frank is only 14 years old, but the Grand Forks discus thrower already has some impressive accomplishments. She won the North Dakota Class A state meet in the discus as an eighth-grader last May. In late July, she earned All-American status with a second-place finish in the discus at the Junior Olympics USA Track & Field national championships in Sacramento, Calif. Frank has some lofty goals for the future, too. And veteran Grand Forks throws coach Lee Baker thinks they're not far-fetched.