The UND football program's defense should have plenty of experience in the fall.
Seven seniors, including five defensive starters from UND's 2021 spring season, announced Friday morning they plan to return for the 2021 fall season.
Starting cornerback Evan Holm, starting safeties Jordan Canady and Hayden Galvin, starting outside linebackers Ray Haas and Jaxson Turner, starting kicker Adam Stage and backup linebacker Ty Shannon all announced their intentions via a video message on UND's football Twitter account.
It was a unique situation this summer as the NCAA said the 2021 spring season wouldn't count against an athlete's eligibility. However, programs still had to bring in high school recruiting classes this fall while also keeping pre-pandemic funding levels.
That meant UND's seniors needed to decide whether they wanted to continue playing football and the Fighting Hawks' coaching staff also needed to determine how many scholarships could be handed out to players hoping to come back.
With UND's defensive returners, the program isn't expected to lose its top 19 tacklers from the 2021 spring.
Holm, an Edina, Minn., native, has played in 38 career games dating back to 2016. Holm, an all-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection in the spring, was able to use a redshirt season in 2019 after playing in just four games due to an injury.
Stage, a first-year transfer from St. Cloud State, was 3-for-4 on field goals with a long of 46.
UND had 15 seniors listed on its 2021 spring roster. Those senior players who weren't included in the video message include running back Dalton Gee, fullback Brett Finke, offensive lineman Bennett Helgren, offensive lineman Nate Nguon, linebacker Jake Rastas, tight end Derek Paulson, offensive lineman Ryan Tobin and wide receiver Jake Richter.
Richter, a first-year transfer from Minnesota State-Moorhead, wasn't included in the video announcement, but he's also coming back in the fall. Richter was third on the team in receiving with 12 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown.
Paulson, entered the NCAA Transfer Portal this offseason. He has since committed to Miami of Ohio to play his final season.
Nguon and Tobin were starters on UND's interior offensive line, with both players receiving all-league honors. Tobin was honorable mention and Nguon was selected to the first team.
The Fighting Hawks finished the 2021 spring season 5-2 and advanced to the FCS quarterfinals for the first time in program history, losing at James Madison.
UND opens the 2021 fall season Sept. 4, against Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho.