The Herald selects the UND football program's all-decade team

University of North Dakota tight end Luke Mathewson (45) holds up the Big Sky Football Championship trophy last season at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Jesse Trelstad / Forum News Service

With the 2019 season coming to a close in an FCS playoff game in Thibodaux, La., in late November, another decade comes to a close for the UND football program and its 125 years of college football.

The following is an attempt to name the UND all-decade team for the 2010s.

I've covered the team since 2004, so this list was created by leaning on that experience and interviewing a handful of people considered UND football experts.

With some of the closest calls, longevity and program impact helped solve the toss-ups.

I'm sure I messed up plenty, so make sure to let me know on Twitter, Facebook or at Thanks for reading.




Keaton Studsrud (2014-2017), St. Louis Park, Minn.

Toughness and sacrifice were the defining labels of Studsrud's four-year career. The Benilde-St. Margaret's product elevated UND to new heights. The program went 3-8 in the season before Studsrud arrived and by the time he was a junior UND had knocked off its first FBS opponent in Wyoming, went undefeated in Big Sky Conference play and made the FCS playoffs for the first time. Studsrud's 5,211 passing yards -- in a run-first offense, no less -- are the second-most in UND history behind just Todd Kovash (1987-90). Before the four-game freshman rule was implemented, Studsrud sacrificed his redshirt late in 2014 and his 2-2 mark down the stretch was the starting point of Bubba Schweigert's program turnaround.

Honorable mentions: Nate Ketteringham, Braden Hanson.

Running backs

North Dakota running back John Santiago (22) runs down the field against Wyoming Cowboys linebacker Eric Nzeocha (11) during the first quarter at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

John Santiago (2015-18), Andover, Minn.

Santiago's production, work ethic and attitude made this speedy program-changer a no-doubt selection. UND was Santiago's only Division I scholarship out of high school, and he came to campus as a wide receiver. When UND racked up injuries at running back in 2015, Santiago moved to the backfield and erupted on the scene with a 148-yard, two-touchdown performance in UND's first FBS win at Wyoming. Santiago sits behind only UND legends Phillip Moore and Shannon Burnell in career rushing yards. He finished his career with 6,567 all-purpose yards -- No. 2 all-time at UND behind Weston Dressler's 7,072. Santiago was a three-time All-American.


Former University of North Dakota running back Brady Oliveira breaks through the Portland State defense during a 2018 game at the Alerus Center. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

Brady Oliveira (2015-18), Winnipeg

The thunder to Santiago's lightning, Oliveira was the perfect complement to Santiago and his numbers support it. Oliveira, whose numbers would've increased had his career not lined up perfectly with Santiago, ranks No. 2 in Division I behind Santiago in career rushing attempts (622 to 500) and also sits one back of Santiago in career rushing yards in Division I (3,722 to 2,822). Oliveira also scored 22 career touchdowns, which ranks behind only John Santiago (29) and Jake Miller (23) in the D1 era. Now a running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, one of Oliveira's most memorable games came in his all-Big Sky sophomore season in which he ran for 171 yards and two scores against Montana State. His 60-yard run against the Bobcats in the fourth quarter provided the winnings points.

Honorable mentions: Jake Miller.

Wide receivers

Greg Hardin
University of North Dakota's Greg Hardin celebrates his touchdown in the lst half during SDSU's football game against the UND at Qualcomm Stadium Saturday night.Photo by Earnie Grafton/UT San Diego.

Greg Hardin (2009-13), Bellevue, Neb.

The start of the decade wasn't the best for UND football in terms of wins and losses but the program was certainly blessed at wide receiver. Hardin, who later had professional stints in the NFL, CFL and FXFL, caught 221 passes for 3,583 yards and 32 touchdowns. Hardin is UND's all-time leader in career receiving yards, one spot ahead of CFL legend Weston Dressler. As a senior, Hardin collected All-America honors for the second year in a row and was a repeat first-team All-Big Sky pick. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Hardin was sneaky fast and provided, along with North Carolina graduate transfer quarterback Braden Hanson, one of the most memorable offensive performances in school history. In 2012, Hardin broke the Big Sky's single-game receiving record with 333 yards against Montana.


UND wide receiver Noah Wanzek beats Idaho State defender Caleb Brown to score a touchdown late in the first half of their game Saturday in Grand Forks. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service
UND wide receiver Noah Wanzek beats Idaho State defender Caleb Brown to score a touchdown late in the first half of their game Saturday in Grand Forks. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

Noah Wanzek (2016-19), Jamestown, N.D.

The unheralded recruit out of Jamestown turned out to be one of the program's toughest and most reliable. Always known for his "catch radius" in which he made numerous sideline and touchdown grabs, Wanzek finished his career gutting through an injury in a playoff loss at Nicholls State. In that game, Wanzek caught his 70th pass of the season to pass now-NFL standout Kenny Golladay for UND's single-season Division I record. He ended the year with 74 catches, which is only five grabs behind the school's all-time mark of 79 set by Mike Juhasz in 1999. UND's coaches often joke about Wanzek's recruiting path, where he was discovered at a high school basketball game in which the staff was recruiting a player on the opposite team. Fortunately for the program, UND changed course in time to land a player who finished with 203 receptions for 2,696 yards and 18 touchdowns.

UND's Golladay catches a touchdown pass
UND's Kenny Golladay catches a touchdown pass at the goal line as SDSU's Andrew Brown defends in the second half of their game at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks Saturday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Kenny Golladay (2012-13), Chicago

Now a star in the NFL, Golladay's two seasons in Grand Forks were enough to make this list. Despite only playing in his freshman and sophomore seasons, Golladay is No. 4 on UND's career D1 receptions behind Hardin, Wanzek and Jameer Jackson. Golladay also ranks third in career receiving yards and third in career touchdown receptions -- both marks behind only Wanzek and Hardin. The 6-foot-4 Golladay blossomed into his frame as a sophomore and only what-ifs remain as he exited to Northern Illinois after UND fired Chris Mussman following the 2013 season.

Honorable mentions: R.J. McGill, Travis Toivonen.


Offensive line

In this Sept, 5, 2015 file photo North Dakota offensive lineman Sean Meehan (63) blocks Wyoming Cowboys defensive end Eddie Yarbrough (55) during the first quarter of UND's season opener at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo. North Dakota beat Wyoming 24-13. Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Meehan (2011-15), Trevor, Wis.

Meehan was UND's first Division I first team All-American. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle was named to the 2015 American Football Coaches Association FCS All-America Team, following a season in which Meehan was all-Big Sky Conference first team and STATS FCS All-America third team. Meehan started 34 games on the right side of the offensive line over his last three seasons on campus. He helped UND's rushing attack finish 12th in the FCS in 2015 with an average of 238.6 yards per game. Meehan, who was an electrical engineering major, helped put UND's program in the right direction with a 7-4 season in his final campaign.

UND center #71 Michael Coe drills at the second day of UND Football practice, at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks, N.D. on August 6, 2016. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)
UND center #71 Michael Coe drills at the second day of UND Football practice, at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks, N.D. on August 6, 2016. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)

Michael Coe (2016), Carlsbad, Calif.

UND only received one season of play from the Division II grad transfer, but the program made the most of it. Coe, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound versatile lineman, came to UND from Western New Mexico, where he played for coach Luke Knauf, who then joined UND's staff in Grand Forks. As UND went on to win the Big Sky Conference in 2016, Coe was named all-Big Sky first team. During that 2016 season, Coe played center, guard and tackle. Along with Meehan, Coe is one of two offensive lineman to receive All-American honors in the D1 era.


2144879+111515 S GFH UNDFB BrandonAnderson LukeStanley JohnSantiago.jpg
Brandon Anderson, left, and Luke Stanley, right, celebrate with John Santiago, center, after Santiago's touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday's football game against University of Northern Colorado at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.

Brandon Anderson (2011-15), Sartell, Minn.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Anderson developed the nickname The Old War Horse for his incredible durability. Anderson started 11 games as a freshman and all 11 again as a sophomore, where he earned honorable mention all-Big Sky. As a junior, Anderson missed one game with an injury to break a streak of 27 consecutive starts. As a senior captain, Anderson started all 11 in 2015 and earned all-Big Sky second team honors.


Joe Kleason, (2009-13), Eagan, Minn.

The 6-foot-4, 286-pound Kleason was part of the difficult group tasked with transitioning from the Great West Conference to the Big Sky Conference. Kleason proved his worth in both leagues. He started all 22 games as a freshman and sophomore, culminating in an all-Great West Conference second team selection as a sophomore in 2011. An injury cut his junior season short but Kleason returned in 2013 to earn all-Big Sky honorable mention.



Ian McGurran, (2008-12), Fargo

McGurran was a rock at center for UND from his first start, which came at Texas Tech. McGurran, whose father John played center at UND from 1980-82, was a captain his final two years. Like a few others on this list, McGurran was notably durable. He started 44 straight games at center for UND, where the former Fargo North standout was known for his cerebral approach.

Honorable mentions: Colton Boas, Elijah Grady, Patric Rooney, A.J. Stockwell, Emmett Lynch.

Tight end/fullback

UND's Zach Adler hauls in a pass from Keaton Studsrud for a touchdown in the first half as Patrick Wells defends. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Zach Adler, (2011-15), Omaha, Neb.

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Adler was a capable pass catcher, grabbing three touchdowns as a senior and racking up 265 receiving yards as a junior. Where Adler really separated himself from the rest in this group, however, was Adler's blocking. Considered almost a sixth offensive lineman in 2015, Adler was a captain and key piece to UND's first FBS win at Wyoming and a program-changing 7-4 mark in Bubba Schweigert's second season at the helm on campus. Adler was second team all-Big Sky in 2015.

Honorable mentions: Luke Fiedler, Alex Cloyd.

Defensive ends

North Dakota's Ross Brenneman
Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, right, runs the ball as North Dakota's Ross Brenneman (98) closes in for a sack during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. (AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Tyler Tjomsland)

Ross Brenneman (2008-12), Omaha, Neb.

The 6-foot-4, 266-pound Brenneman was UND's best Division I defensive lineman until Mason Bennett came around late in the decade. The soft-spoken and humble Brenneman let his play do the talking, amassing 18.5 career sacks, which was UND's most in the D1 era until 2019. Brenneman had 8.5 sacks, including a pair in a strong UND showing in a loss at Fresno State, as a junior to earn all-Great West Conference second team honors. Brenneman's first career game came as a redshirt freshman at Texas Tech, and he played more than 50 plays against the Red Raiders.

UND defensive end Mason Bennett grabs Northern Colorado quarterback Keaton Mott during Saturday's game. Photo/Russ Hons, UND Athletics

Mason Bennett (2015-19), Winnipeg

Bennett has left his mark as UND's best defensive lineman of the Division I era. Not only is he the school's D1 leader in career sacks, he was named an Associated Press FCS All-American Third Team pick in 2019. Bennett is the first defensive lineman in UND's D1 era to be named All-American and the first since Adam Wolff in 2006. Bennett racked up 20 career sacks, which ranks first in Division I and second all-time, behind only Wes Atkinson's 21.5 from 1996-99.

Honorable mention: Brandon Dranka.

Nose guard

University of North Dakota defensive lineman Tank Harris walks the sidelines during a morning scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, at UND Memorial Stadium. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

Tank Harris (2014-18), Chicago

There was a buzz about Tank before he even arrived on campus. Coaches were excited about a body type they had been missing on the inside in the program's 3-4 defense. And Harris didn't disappoint, as the 6-foot-3, 290-pound noseguard became a second team all-Big Sky Conference selection in 2017. In 2018, Harris had 18 tackles and 3.5 for loss. Harris was also a third team all-Big Sky pick in 2016. Harris was the centerpiece up front as Bubba Schweigert's teams re-established a reputation for stopping the run.

Honorable mentions: Broc Bellmore, Devin Benjamin.

Outside linebackers

UND plays Montana State Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. (Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Bozeman Daily Chronicle)

Brian Labat (2012-16), Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Out of nearby Detroit Lakes High School, Labat was overshadowed by classmate and quarterback Joe Mollberg out of Detroit Lakes. It took a little time but eventually Labat entered the spotlight. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker redshirted in 2012 and then battled through injuries in 2013. As a sophomore, Labat started 10 games and ranked sixth on the team with 49 tackles and 12.0 for loss. In 2015, as a junior, Labat was second team all-Big Sky. Labat finished his career with 7.0 sacks and three interceptions. Labat was an all-Big Sky honorable mention as a senior, helping UND to an unbeaten Big Sky Conference mark.


Ryan Kasowski (2006-10), Grand Forks

One of the last great Grand Forks athletes to come through UND, Kasowski played with incredible passion. The 6-foot-3 Grand Forks Central product was a two-time all-Great West Conference linebacker and two-time captain. Kasowski ranks fourth all-time in career sacks for UND at the D1 level with 10.5.

Honorable mention: Jake Disterhaupt.

Inside linebackers

University of North Dakota defensemen Brandon Dranka, left, and Will Ratelle, right, celebrate a tackle of Portland State’s Shaquille Richard on Saturday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. (Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

Will Ratelle (2011-15), Edina, Minn.

Ratelle became a program legend for his sheer strength, as well as his production. A holdover between coaching staff regimes, Ratelle excelled in Bubba Schweigert's system despite fitting more of a mold of the past coaching staff which seemed to prefer strength over speed. But in 2015, Ratelle earned first team all-Big Sky honors after passing the 100-tackle mark for the second-consecutive season. He also added a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss and a career-high 4.0 sacks. Perhaps not surprisingly, Ratelle is now a strength coach for UND athletics.

UND's Donnell Rodgers (left) and Jake Disterhaupt run down a Northern Colorado ball carrier during a 2016 game in Greeley, Colo. UND won 23-13. Matt Schill / UND Athletics

Donnell Rodgers (2015-19), Woodbury, Minn.

The biggest season hiccup in the Bubba Schweigert era to this point came during a season-ending injury to Rodgers and that's probably not coincidence. In 2019, Rodgers's 74 assisted tackles and 126 total tackles were both UND D1 records, with the latter ranking No. 5 in the FCS. He became the first player since Tim Tibesar in 1996 to break into the all-time program's Top 10 mark for assisted tackles in a single season as well as the first since Digger Anderson in 2003 to have over 120 total tackles in a single season. Rodgers' 124 career assisted tackles are second, the 241 total tackles are second and his 118 solo stops are fifth in UND's D1 career history. Those numbers sit just outside the program's Top 10 mark, a list that includes nine former All-Americans.

Honorable mention: Taj Rich, Dan Hendrickson.


UND's defensive back Cole Reyes hits Stony Brook quarterback Joe Carbone to force a fumble in the second quarter. (Photo by Gregory A. Shemitz)

Cole Reyes (2013-17), Schaumburg, Ill.

Since Reyes left UND, the program has spent considerable time talking about how they can find the next Reyes. And they haven't fully succeeded, which is a credit to the athleticism and play-making ability of this safety. Reyes' best season came in 2016 in which he was the first UND player since Weston Dressler in 2007 to earn six different All-America accolades. Reyes was the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year, as he made 70 tackles and had three interceptions, including one for a touchdown.

UND defensive back Joel Schwenzfeier looks over his shoulder as he crosses the goal line on a school record 100-yard interception early in the game against Southern Utah University in 2010 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald.

Joel Schwenzfeier (2006-10), Hallock, Minn.

Many will remember the playing career of Schwenzfeier for one game -- a three-interception game in 2009 against Texas Tech. But even though he only played in one season in this decade, he left an immense impression there, too. He made 37 career starts and played in all 44 games at strong safety during his four-year career. He finished with 11 interceptions. In 2010, he was named to the all-Great West Conference first team. In 2010, he had three interceptions including taking one back for a 100-yard touchdown return.

Honorable mention: Jordan Canady, Baylee Carr.


At one time a potential first-rounder, 2014 Hibbing graduate Deion Harris simply hopes to have his name called during this week's NFL draft. Photo courtesy of North Dakota athletics

Deion Harris (2014-2018), Hibbing, Minn.

Harris' time at UND will be remembered for producing one of the most amazing defensive seasons, as well as one of the most disappointing injuries. Harris had a breakout year in 2016, recording five interceptions and returning three for scores. He added 36 tackles, nine pass breakups and led the school to the FCS playoffs for the first time in program history. After the year, ESPN's Mel Kiper listed Harris as one of the top senior corners entering 2017. However, a devastating Achilles injury forced Harris to miss all of 2018. As a redshirt senior in 2018, Harris returned to finish with 27 tackles, four tackles for loss and seven pass breakups. Over his career at UND, Harris was named second team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association and Associated Press and first team all-Big Sky. Harris has spent time on the practice squad of the Washington Redskins.

UND Football
UND's Dominique Hawkins (30) eyes Northwestern State's John Shaughnessy (37) while running the ball toward the end zone Saturday evening at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. UND beat NSU 49-24. Herald photo by Sarah Kolberg.

Dom Hawkins (2007-11), Plymouth, Minn.

The 6-foot, 189-pound defensive back was one of UND's most athletic early in the Division I era. An all-around talent, who played on special teams and some safety, Hawkins is UND's Division I all-time leader in career solo tackles with 159. His 195 total tackles is behind only stars Will Ratelle and Cole Reyes. Hawkins' career 24 pass breakups is behind only Deion Harris in the Division I era. Hawkins, who was a two-time all-Great West Conference selection, also had six interceptions, which trails just Joel Schwenzfeier and Deion Harris in the Division I era.

Honorable mention: Evan Holm.



Reid Taubenheim (2014-17), Farmington, Minn.

In a long line of strong kickers, Taubenheim stood out for his reliability throughout his career. Taubenheim, who was named to the all-Big Sky Conference team twice, was 123-for-126 on extra points in his career and 59-for-80 in career field goals. Taubenheim had three seasons in the Top 10 in UND's overall records for single-season field goals made.

Honorable mention: Zeb Miller.



Brett Cameron (2008-12), Winnipeg

The son of a CFL punting legend, Cameron left his mark in Grand Forks. He holds UND's Division I single-season punting average record with 44.9 yards per punt in 2009. Cameron's 186 career punts are also a UND Division I record and are tied for No. 2 all-time.Cameron holds a 40.6 yards-per-punt career average, which ranks fifth all-time at UND.

Honorable mention: Mitch Meindel.

Return specialist

August 28, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; North Dakota defensive back Alex Tillman (20) runs with the football past San Jose State Spartans linebacker Brad Kuh (33) during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Tillman (2014), Houston

The graduate transfer from Houston is still one of the shining examples of the transfer pool. Tillman arrived at UND to start the Bubba Schweigert era and his return game was sometimes the team's best offensive weapon as it transitioned coaching staffs. Tillman still hods the school record for longest punt return with a 95-yarder against Portland State in 2014. The cornerback, who also had a 92-yard interception returned for a touchdown in 2014, fielded 14 punts for 237 yards and was named to the all-Big Sky Conference team as a return specialist.

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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