Nate Ketteringham doesn't hesitate when asked what he wants to do after his fifth and final season of college football.
"Join the Navy and be a SEAL," the UND starting quarterback said. "That's been my goal since I was like 4. Being the best of the best is something I want to do. I want to prove to myself I can do it."
First, though, Ketteringham will have to use the leadership and discipline he'll need for his post-football dream in his current football reality.
He has the reins of a Fighting Hawks' offense set to make a new-look debut in two weeks at home against Drake.
"He has the arm talent and athleticism to be a very good player, but what could take him to the next level is his discipline in leading the team and how he approaches the game," UND first-year offensive coordinator Danny Freund said. "One of the biggest things for Nate is his leadership and how he can affect his teammates in a positive way."
Ketteringham, a 6-foot-4, 203-pound San Diego native, started all 11 games for the Fighting Hawks a year ago after transferring to Grand Forks from Sacramento State.
In 2018, he finished with 158 completions for 1,835 yards and 16 touchdowns. He had four games with 200-plus passing yards. He had a completion percentage of 54 percent.
The buzzwords for Ketteringham in 2019 include getting the ball out quicker, raising his completion percentage and avoiding sacks.
These elements were a roller-coaster in 2018. From the highs of a rout of Montana in the Alerus Center and a last-minute win at Sam Houston State to the lows of a stumbling finish in losses at Idaho and Northern Arizona.
The Fighting Hawks are changing from a pro style offense to more of a spread look this year, something Ketteringham has experience excelling in during both his prep and college career.
At Sacramento State, Ketteringham started 16 games and threw for 3,391 yards and 24 touchdowns.
"It's been a grind, getting a whole new offense and a whole new terminology," Ketteringham said. "My job is mainly focusing on 1-on-1 matchups and letting our playmakers get yards after the catch. We have seniors back (at wide receiver), and it's good to have that wisdom. It's good to have the older guys show the younger guys what to do.
"We still have a lot of work to do, but I feel we're in a good spot and right where we need to be."
UND's passing game has plenty of weapons in returning starters Noah Wanzek, Travis Toivonen and Garett Maag.
"We're going to try to use those guys in a lot of different ways," Freund said. "When Nate looks out there, he has to understand where his 1-on-1 is at. With their ability to run routes, with their length and athleticism to go get the ball, they're open when they're not open."
Freund said he likes to think of his offense as position-less.
"We're going to utilize our tight ends and running backs," he said. "You find the best skill guys you have and then find ways to get them on the field."
Freund and Ketteringham have quickly tried to form a bond.
"He's had three or four coordinators in his career," Freund said. "I told him I'm going to be talking with him every day. We're going to try to run things he likes. We're going to run stuff he's comfortable with and confident in."