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BISON FOOTBALL: Vraa shows promise for his freshman season

FARGO -- The pronunciation of Zach Vraa's last name was the subject of debate following North Dakota State's intrasquad football scrimmage on Saturday. Coach Craig Bohl likes to put a few "r's" on the end; joked that it sounds tougher.

Zach Vraa and teammate Aireal Boyd
Wideout Zach Vraa breaks away from defender Aireal Boyd after a reception Saturday during the North Dakota State University Bison football scrimmage at Dakotah Field. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO -- The pronunciation of Zach Vraa's last name was the subject of debate following North Dakota State's intrasquad football scrimmage on Saturday. Coach Craig Bohl likes to put a few "r's" on the end; joked that it sounds tougher.

The freshman wide receiver played it cool, going by what has always been assumed: Vrah.

What is not debatable this month, however, is Vraa's contribution to the Bison offense. He showed on Saturday why the Bison have named him a starter with a 12-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Brock Jensen, a play that encapsulated why NDSU recruited him.

With Jensen starting his quarterback count, cornerback Christian Dudzik changed his coverage and came up to the line of scrimmage to press Vraa. Jensen gave Vraa a signal; and that probably wasn't even needed.

"Both of us kind of had that feeling he was going to call an audible and he did," Vraa said.

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Vraa got one step on Dudzik and Jensen lofted a corner pass exactly where it need to be. That kind of chemistry, Vraa said, didn't start developing until late in the spring with the biggest impact coming during the summer. The two hardly let a day go by without throwing and catching to each other.

"He's looking like a big-time wide receiver right now," Jensen said. "He can go up and get the ball in tough situations and one-on-one matchups. Just put the ball in an area and he's going to go get it."

Vraa broke his collar bone last August as a true freshman, an injury that set him back most of the season. He returned to play on the scout team, but really didn't get to play with the West Coast offense until spring football.

If there was such a thing as passing a test on the physical nature of football, and if there was any mental residual from last season, Vraa passed it on Saturday. One player before his touchdown, Dudzik got the best of Vraa on a high pass that left the receiver hitting the turf almost horizontally.

He got up like nothing happened, just part of his day that ended with five catches for 61 yards.

"That's going to happen from time to time," Vraa said. "You have to concentrate on catching the ball and when the ball is up there, that's the only thing on our mind. You have to go up and get it."

The edge in the 60-play scrimmage probably went to the offense, although several players -- most notably some defensive starters -- were held out with minor injuries. Backup offensive lineman Will Britt had the only injury in the scrimmage with a sprained ankle.

"I thought offensively we did some nice things today," Bohl said.

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Perhaps the highlight: yet another productive day by backup running back Sam Ojuri, who made something out of nothing on a few carries including a 32-yarder. Ojuri, a sophomore, sat out last season.

"Sam had some big plays in fall camp, but not at full speed," Bohl said. "He did it with the lights on today and having him puts us back in the old days when we had two guys there."

This article is by the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

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