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UND's Division II transfers say the NSIC is no joke, and the results are confirming that for No. 6 Fighting Hawks

UND's leading tackler (Devon Krzanowski, St. Cloud State), third-leading receiver (Jake Richter, Minnesota State-Moorhead) and starting kicker (Adam Stage, St. Cloud State) all played last at the Division II level.

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UND coaches and players react as Devon Krzanowsky heads to the endzone after picking up a SIU fumble in the second quarter. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Many times at the FCS level, the notable transfers for a program come from the FBS level as players drop down to find a better fit.

For UND in 2021, though, the notable transfers are coming from the other direction.

The Fighting Hawks are receiving a boost from Division II talent, and the trend may just be beginning.

UND's leading tackler (Devon Krzanowski, St. Cloud State), third-leading receiver (Jake Richter, Minnesota State-Moorhead) and starting kicker (Adam Stage, St. Cloud State) all played last at the Division II level.

Krzanowski and Stage came to UND after St. Cloud State shuttered its football program, while Richter was looking for an opportunity at the next level after graduating from Moorhead.

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"He's been what we would say is a perfect transfer," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said of Richter. "He had no expectations of playing time and wanted to earn everything he got. He's done that. He's a big receiver who can make catches in traffic and stretch the field a bit because he's fast for a big guy.

"He's a really good team guy. If we can continue to find guys like that to add to our program, we think we can have a bright future."

All three transfers fit the mold of a strong transfer candidate at UND, coming from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, where UND's staff has enough connections to gain plenty of background on each prospect.

"The DII level and the NSIC is no joke," Richter said. "You see guys coming out of there and making the next level. Coming from the coaching staff there that has similar values as the coaching staff here has helped."

With plenty of background on St. Cloud State, Richter wasn't surprised to see Krzanowski put together a standout season. Krzanowski has 31 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 2.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

"He's a heck of a player," Richter said. "Seeing him coming in here and making the noise he's made ... I'm just a firm believer if you have talent, they can find you anywhere. I'm glad we both made it here."

In Krzanowski's first game of the season against Southern Illinois, the inside linebacker returned a fumble 36 yards for a touchdown.

"I was definitely wondering if I was a fit for this level," he said. "I thought I could, but you have to confirm that. After that first game, I kind of knew it was the right choice to be here."

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UND's rise from an unranked program to begin the season to the No. 6 team in the country and a program that has a chance to win a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference title with a win Saturday at Youngstown State hasn't hurt the transition, either.

"I think it adds to that I made the right choice," Krzanowski said. "The way this team has welcomed me here, though, and how I've been assimilated into the family -- that's ultimately how I knew I made the right choice."

Richter, a native of Detroit Lakes, has added 10 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown.

"It's fun coming to a program where guys want to come to work every day," Richter said. "There's more left on the table for us, and we're excited to come to practice and get after it. Everyone has been super welcoming. I just love playing football. Any time I can get out there on the field with guys with similar goals as me -- and the guys and coaches here are awesome -- I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Stage has been 2-for-3 on field goals with a long of 46 yards. Stage has also kicked off 19 times with four touchbacks.

Stage hasn't been asked to kick many field goals this season, as the Hawks are 15-for-19 on scoring touchdowns in red-zone opportunities.

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

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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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