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UND football adds Gardner-Webb transfer safety with all-conference background

Buckner intercepted five passes last season, finishing fourth in the country in interceptions per game.

Buckner_ETSU (1).jpg
Malachi Buckner.
Photo courtesy of Gardner-Webb Athletics
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GRAND FORKS — The UND football team has tapped the NCAA Transfer Portal to add an experienced safety with an all-conference background.

Malachi Buckner, formerly of Gardner-Webb, has committed to the Fighting Hawks as a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Buckner, who's 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds from Tucker, Ga., intercepted five passes last season to finish fourth in the FCS in interceptions per game. He was named to the all-Big South first team.

Buckner also had 41 tackles in eight games played. He missed two games with turf toe, he said.

"I've been talking to North Dakota for the past month," said Buckner, who was being recruited by UND cornerbacks coach Travis Stepps. "UND told me what they like to do, and we had a zoom, where they showed me the campus and ultimately it made me feel like a place I can strive at."

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Buckner was a three-year starter at Gardner-Webb, where he had his freshman season cut short with an injury.

"My strengths are my ball skills and IQ," Buckner said. "I have a nose for the ball and can make a play."

The Fighting Hawks were in need of help at safety after last season's two starting safeties were seniors in Jordan Canady and Hayden Galvin.

Buckner plans to come to Grand Forks in May to participate in summer workouts ahead of 2022 fall camp.

Buckner held offers from Youngstown State, Western Illinois and Sacred Heart, among others.

Buckner is UND's fourth Division I transfer of the 2022 recruiting class, joining North Dakota State's Seth Anderson and Bartholomew Ogbu and Cal Poly's Aaron Cooper.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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