The 6 remarks from UND football coach Bubba Schweigert's Media Day you need to know

The annual Missouri Valley Football Conference Media Day was held via Zoom conference call on Tuesday morning. Here were the UND football highlights from the day.

UND wide receiver Bo Belquist fights for extra yards Saturday against Western Illinois. Photo by Western Illinois.

Talk of the coronavirus and vaccination rates may have dominated the Missouri Valley Football Conference Media Day conference call on Tuesday morning, but there was still plenty of actual football to discuss.

Here are the six most important bits of news from UND football coach Bubba Schweigert's portion of the event.

1. Belquist is healing quickly

Perhaps the most positive news nugget for UND football to be produced Tuesday was Schweigert's comments on rising sophomore wide receiver Bo Belquist, an explosive in-state talent out of New Rockford.

Belquist, who tied Garett Maag for a team-high 25 catches during his true freshman campaign in the spring, suffered a broken leg during UND's playoff victory over Missouri State.

"I would think he's going to be back pretty soon," Schweigert said. "He's had a really good recovery. His injury was a little different than the other guys, and we are more sure of the timeline to be back. We'll see if it's Game 1, but it'll be early in the season."


Belquist was sorely missed in UND's 34-21 FCS quarterfinal loss at James Madison.

After No. 1 wide receiver Garett Maag's six catches for 87 yards against the Dukes, UND's second-most productive receiver was rookie Marcus Preston, who came on late in the year and had three catches for 32 yards against JMU.

UND is expected to return all of its top pass-receiving targets at wide receiver in Maag, Belquist, Preston and Minnesota State Moorhead graduate transfer Jake Richter.

2. Boltmann's status unclear

The Belquist injury update might be additionally important if UND's breakout athlete of 2019 isn't ready to go early in the fall of 2021.

Brock Boltmann, who passed for, ran and caught touchdown passes in 2019, missed the entire spring of 2021 with a lower-body injury.

Boltmann went on a handful of midseason road trips to test his injury before the team ultimately decided to shut him down and begin a full rehab.

"We hope to have him back some time this year," Schweigert said. "He'll keep working hard with our staff and hopefully we can get him back soon."

Schweigert was specifically asked if Boltmann would be available for Week 1.


"That's still a question," Schweigert said. "We'd like to think so. He's working hard. It's not to a lack of effort. He's a dynamic player. We need to really see where he fits in to the team we have in 2021. We're looking forward to getting him back. It has been a long recovery, and he's still working on that. He was quite the weapon the last time he was able to play."

3. Canady working back to health

Like Belquist and Boltmann, UND didn't have the services of veteran safety Jordan Canady for the FCS quarterfinal in Harrisonburg, Va., against JMU.

Canady was injured in UND's fifth game of the year at North Dakota State.

The senior started the spring strong, recording a season-high eight tackles in the dominant win over Southern Illinois and picking off passes in back-to-back weeks against South Dakota and South Dakota State.

Canady was selected as a league all-conference honorable mention this preseason.

"Our last (injury) reports were very positive," Schweigert said. "The timeline when he gets back and can compete at a high level ... we aren't quite sure yet."

Canady's injury was a cause for concern for UND, which lacks proven safety depth.

Looking ahead to the fall of 2021, in addition to Canady, UND will return starter Hayden Galvin and part-time starter Kadon Kauppinen.


The team also received a verbal commitment this offseason from experienced safety Lucas Fisher of Southwest Minnesota State .

4. A balance for Otis

UND running back Otis Weah quickly emerged as one of the country's best offensive talents in his first full season with the Fighting Hawks in the spring.

As the Hawks look to the fall, Schweigert was asked about getting Weah more touches.

"We'll count the number he gets, but you've got to be smart," Schweigert said. "It's an 11-game season and you're trying to earn the 12th game. You've got to give it to him enough because he's one of the top players in our program and in the league, and he helps you win games but you also have to find the right amount so we take care of him throughout the year."

Schweigert said Weah, a Walter Payton Award finalist in the spring, wants to improve his pass catching and pass protection.

"We're excited to have Otis in our program," Schweigert said. "He creates energy and big plays. He wants to be that complete back. Once he has the ball in his hands, he creates things and is hard to tackle and has good speed for a thick, stocky guy. He loves practicing, and he'll get better in other areas."

5. All new on the interior

In a strange, quick transition from the 2021 spring to the 2021 fall, UND doesn't have a ton of question marks as quite a few seniors made the decision to return for an additional year of eligibility.

One area the Hawks took a hit, though, was on the interior of the offensive line. Kyle Hergel elected to transfer before UND's playoff run , while all-conference selections Nathan Nguon and Ryan Tobin decided to retire after graduation.


So the Hawks will be replacing all three interior line positions.

"That's one place where we really need to develop and focus on when we get the pads on and focus on fall camp," Schweigert said. "Matt Waletzko at left tackle and Donny Ventrelli at right tackle, they're going to need to provide us some leadership."

The effort to replace three interior spots starts with Easton Kilty, who filled in for Hergel in the postseason and has received high marks from the coaching staff in his short time in Grand Forks.

UND also received a verbal commitment this offseason from Portland State graduate transfer Babak Ghadaksaz, who picked the Hawks among eight FCS offers .

6. Tommy on the move?

UND quarterback Tommy Schuster was the first-team all-Missouri Valley Football Conference preseason quarterback, the league announced Tuesday.

With just one full season under his belt, though, Schweigert was asked what Schuster can do to take the next step in his career.

"We'd like to see him make plays with his feet," Schweigert said. "He's not going to score from 40 yards out, but you saw later in the year, he could tuck the ball and get 5 or 6 yards. He's very good at avoiding pressure and having a good pocket presence. We'd like to see him take off a little bit and get some gains. That really puts the stress on defense."

Schuster only took one sack all season -- a 1-yard loss at Western Illinois. He only decided to run 12 times for 40 yards, with a long run of 14 yards.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

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, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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