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UND's usage of tight ends appeals to program's latest recruit

Trace Thaden of Omaha Millard West is the Fighting Hawks' ninth commitment for the 2022 recruiting class.

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Trace Thaden of Omaha Millard West goes up to match a catch in a game last season. Submitted photo.

The UND football coaching staff presented prospect Trace Thaden of Omaha, Neb., with film of how the Fighting Hawks like to use tight ends in their offense.

"They showed me some film from past seasons and a percentage that they average 1.5 tight ends per play," Thaden said. "Tight ends are a big piece of the offense. The tight ends coach also loves to rotate and have fresh bodies."

That was part of the sales pitch that helped UND land the 6-foot-7, 225-pound tight end from Omaha Millard West.

Thaden is the ninth commitment and second tight end of the 2022 recruiting class.

"I got invited up for the camp and didn't know what to expect," Thaden said. "I was blown away by the campus. I was very impressed with everything. It all exceeded my expectations."

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Thaden moved to Omaha from Des Moines last June when his dad landed a new job there.

At that point in the summer schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic, Millard West couldn't practice and had to hold Zoom video chat sessions as a team.

"It really challenged me," Thaden said.

Millard West was able to play seven regular-season games and two playoff games, finishing with a 2-7 mark. Thaden had to miss two games as a close contact to a family member's COVID-19 case.

Thaden, who also plays basketball and track at Millard West, said his strengths are his run blocking. As an eighth-grader and freshman, he played offensive tackle. It wasn't until midway through his sophomore season he was moved to varsity tight end.

"Run blocking is more of my game but I've been working on my hands and routes and love to get out and catch the football," Thaden said.

Thaden said he wanted to make the college commitment decision before the high school season started.

"I'm super excited North Dakota gave me the opportunity to go play football there," Thaden said. "I can't wait."

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Trace Thaden of Omaha Millard West looks to block in a high school football game last season. Submitted photo.

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