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Beach standout Lechler verbals to NDSU for football

Press Photo by Dustin Monke Beach senior Landon Lechler, right, rushes Central McLean quarterback Matt Landenberger during a game on Aug. 27 at the Badlands Activities Center. Lechler has verbally committed to play for the North Dakota State football team and will sign his national letter of intent today. Lechler turned down offers from Dickinson State and the University of North Dakota.

Landon Lechler is a big farm kid who happens to be a great athlete.

North Dakota State seemed like the obvious choice for him to explore both interests.

The Beach High School senior said that when the NDSU football team made its scholarship offer, he was persuaded more by the university's academics -- particularly its renowned agriculture program -- than its prestigious football program.

"The agriculture part was more important than the national championship part," Lecher said, referring to the FCS national championship the Bison won Jan. 7.

The 6-foot-8, 240-pound offensive lineman said Tuesday that he has verbally committed to play football for the Bison.

Lechler made his official campus visit to NDSU last weekend. He will sign his national letter of intent today, which is national signing day.

"It was kind of a great fit, with academics, the coaches and the players," Lechler said. "It was a good vibe with everybody, getting down there and meeting some of the players."

Lechler turned down offers from the University of North Dakota for football and Dickinson State for both basketball and football. Several other schools were interested in him for both sports.

He plans to major in crop and wheat sciences with a minor in soil science. His goal is to return to southwest North Dakota to take over his family's 5,000-acre farm and ranch northeast of Beach or become an agronomist.

While education was what led Lechler to choose NDSU, he said the Bison winning the FCS national title on Jan. 7 didn't hurt.

"I know going there, you might have the opportunity to do something special," he said. "That was kind of a big part too."

Lechler's highest honor in football last fall was being named to the 9-man, all-Region 4 team. He was a Class B boys basketball all-state second team selection last season after averaging 23 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks per game.

Lechler said he intends redshirt his first year at NDSU and put on muscle. He said coaches would like to see him bulk up to 280 pounds.

Beach head football coach Mike Zier said Lechler has some work to do before he will be ready to play for NDSU. But he believes Lechler's combination of size, footwork and athleticism will eventually help him earn playing time at NDSU.

"He's far from ready to play at that level, and he knows that," Zier said. "But there's two things you can't coach. You can't coach speed and you can't coach size.

"He's got good footwork, he stays on his feet. He's got a huge wingspan and huge hands. That's what they look for at that position. ... He's pretty good at getting his hands up and he's a tough guy to throw around."

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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