When UND football coach Bubba Schweigert was hired after the 2013 season, the wide receiver position was an area of concern to his coaching staff.

Two top wide receivers from the previous coaching staff's roster -- now-Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay and Jameer Jackson -- transferred out before the Schweigert Era started in Grand Forks.

Even by 2015, when UND beat Wyoming and finished 7-4 behind rookie running backs John Santiago and Brady Oliveira, the program was missing weapons at wide receiver.

During that 2015 season in which the Fighting Hawks were surprisingly left out of the FCS playoffs, two walk-ons -- Luke Stanley and Josh Seibel -- led the team in receiving yards. The third-leading receiver was tight end Zach Adler.

After the 2015 season, two 6-foot-4 regional recruits at wide receiver -- Jamestown's Noah Wanzek and Red Wing's Travis Toivonen -- arrived on campus.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

The two immediately solidified UND's depth at wide receiver, quickly developing reputations as great talents and great teammates. As their senior seasons wind down, Wanzek and Toivonen begin to wrap careers that will be remembered as some of UND's best in the Division I era.

UND (6-4) looks to extend its season with a must-win game against Southern Utah on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Alerus Center.

UND's Division I record holder for career receiving yards is Greg Hardin (2010-13), with 3,583. No. 2 is Wanzek (2,535) and No. 3 is Toivonen (1,526).

"They're such great individuals to have in a program," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "They're team players. They're great on the practice field. They present leadership. It's everything you want in individuals to help lead a program.

"And they're very competitive. We saw that in high school as multi-sport guys. When they got here, they really bought into what we're trying to do. I think you can really build a program and a solid culture with young men like that. I can't thank them enough for what they've done for our program."

Wanzek was a late recruit for UND. As a multi-sport star at Jamestown High School, Wanzek landed on UND's recruiting radar a bit on accident. During his senior prep season, the Hawks' coaching staff traveled to a North Dakota West Region basketball game to watch a different recruit. By game's end, the staff was so impressed with Wanzek's athleticism and competitiveness, they phoned back to Schweigert to let the head coach know they needed to start chasing Wanzek.

Wanzek is finishing his UND career with a bang. He had a career-high 140 yards on seven catches and a touchdown at Weber State two weeks ago. Last week, Wanzek caught nine passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Wanzek ranks third all-time (Division I or Division II) at UND with 2,535 receiving yards, while he's tied for eighth all-time with 18 career touchdowns and ranks third in career catches with 190.

Unlike Wanzek, Toivonen was labeled a hot prospect from the start. He led the entire state of Minnesota in receiving yards as a senior with 1,037 in only eight games.

As a junior last year, Toivonen was in and out of the lineup with injuries. His absence down the stretch in 2018 is often mentioned by the coaching staff as a key reason to the Hawks' struggles to end the season.

Wanzek and Toivonen also elevated UND's passing game and produced impressive numbers, despite spending their first three seasons in a run-heavy offense.

When UND changed offensive coordinators this offseason, Schweigert said Wanzek and Toivonen were instrumental in embracing a change of offensive style to a more pass-friendly attack.

The two have also added to their legacy by supporting the future at wide receiver, specifically gifted true sophomore Garett Maag.

"Wanzek and Travis have been the best role models I could ask for," Maag said. "They show great leadership and do what's right all the time. I try to soak up everything they've taught me here at UND."

Maag said it's going to be strange to see them gone next season.

"Hopefully we can keep their seasons going," Maag said. "I want to play for them because they've been really great teammates and friends."