UND FOOTBALL: Mollberg glad to be back

Midway through the 2014 season, Joe Mollberg limped the field at Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City, Utah, with a torn Achilles heel--perhaps the worst injury in any sport.

Joe Mollberg
Joe Mollberg

Midway through the 2014 season, Joe Mollberg limped the field at Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City, Utah, with a torn Achilles heel-perhaps the worst injury in any sport.

Mollberg was UND's quarterback; he was in his second season as the Fighting Hawks' starter and-to that point-had thrown for 2,648 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The severity of the injury cast doubt whether Mollberg would ever play football again.

But Mollberg, a celebrated athlete out of Detroit Lakes, Minn., erased any doubt.

"There was no doubt I wanted to finish my career and be a part of this team," said Mollberg on Friday as the Hawks wrapped up their sixth practice of the spring season at the High Performance Center. "Day in and day out, it was a long process in getting back; there was a lot of hard work. Mentally, it was a challenge."


Mollberg did return for the 2015 season as a backup quarterback. He took a few snaps but Keaton Studsrud-who took over for Mollberg after he went down at Southern Utah-had become entrenched as the program's QB.

This season, though, Mollberg has switched positions. He's now a tight end. On Friday, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior showed he has some promise at the position, hauling in a one-handed catch that caught the attention of a number high school coaches who were in attendance as part of a UND coaching clinic.

"My body feels good; I'm feeling strong; I'm sweating a lot more than I used to and I'm glad to be out here with the guys," said Mollberg.

The decision to convert Mollberg into a tight end was mutual, said UND coach Bubba Schweigert.

"He understands the concepts of the position," said Schweigert. "He knows where to go. Now, he has to work on the actual blocking assignments and combinations.

"We're giving him a great opportunity and he's taking advantage of it. He's working hard and I really like what I see out of him so far."

"It was a long recovery for him; and it's tough to come back from that injury. What gets lost in this is that he didn't run for six months. Then you have to get over that mental block. Can you plant on that foot, make that switch. But Joe really wanted to play football. I'm really impressed with his attitude. He approached things the right way and I'm really proud of him for that."

How much Mollberg sees the field in the fall, however, remains to be seen.


Also, the possibility exists he may see playing time on special teams.

The position change also gives UND another option. Molberg could serve as an emergency quarterback if the Hawks face the worst-case scenario.

"Joe would be able to do that; to get us out of a game," said Schweigert. "That gives you a huge advantage, especially on the road."

UND practiced twice this week. Wednesday's practice wasn't that sharp, as the Hawks were coming off spring break. Friday, however, the pace and spirit of the practice was much better, said Schweigert.

"If we have practices like this, we can make a lot of improvements in the spring," said Schweigert.

Related Topics: UND FOOTBALL
Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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