DeSouza impresses NDSU on spring football scrimmage
FARGO — The first touchdown in North Dakota State’s first spring football intrasquad scrimmage was a 40-yard pass to a running back who wasn’t on the roster. The second score was a 74-yard run by another running back who wasn’t on the roster.
So allow us to do the introductions. Their names are Colter Pritchard and Melvin DeSouza, the latter of whom was asked what he was doing at NDSU.
“My name is Melvin DeSouza and I walked on with my main man Pritchard over there — No. 5,” he said.
Pritchard, from Langdon, joined the team during winter workouts and caught the scoring pass from quarterback Derek McGinnis.
If DeSouza ever amounts to anything on Saturdays in the fall, he’d be quite the story. He was a defensive player in 2012 for the North Dakota State College of Science, but enrolled at NDSU last fall. He had hopes of receiving a call from then head coach Craig Bohl in August, he said, but it never came — until the middle of the season.
It came at the beginning of the week prior to the Bison hosting Missouri State on Oct. 12. There was a catch, however: NDSU wanted him to play running back.
He had never carried the ball in his life, and that dates back to high school in Eden Prairie, Minn. Google his name and you’ll get a highlight film of No. 92 for Eden Prairie playing defensive end. But at 5-foot-9 and 220-plus pounds, defensive end or safety was not going to happen in college, especially at the Division I FCS level.
“I’ve always played defense, that’s my mentality,” DeSouza said. “So switching over to offense was something new. Even right now I don’t know what I’m doing, just running scared.
He looked like he knew what he was doing breaking tackles. That was his forte on scout team and head coach Chris Klieman said it got to the point where the coaches didn’t want some of NDSU’s defensive starters with ailing shoulder taking him head on.
“Melvin is a load,” Klieman said. “He’s a hard-nosed runner. He has to learn our offense, but he has some tools. There’s no question about that.”
Cracking NDSU’s running back depth is a load, too. Senior John Crockett is a returning starter. Sophomore Chase Morlock showed again on Saturday that he’s a huge contender to get a lot of carries next fall. King Frazier, a transfer from Nebraska, showed he has some ability before being sidelined last week with a knee injury. Junior Darius Anderson is still grinding away at the depth chart.
DeSouza said his top goal, and most realistic one, is to see the field on special teams. At the least, his quest of just trying to make the team last fall to carrying the ball in a starring role in a spring football scrimmage was not lost on his teammates.
“If you tell him what to do, he’s going to do it and he’s going to bust his tail doing it,” said quarterback Carson Wentz. “I love the kid to death, he just has to keep coming along mentally.”
In general, the defense had the upper hand in the first half of the scrimmage and the offense took control in the second half. Klieman said he wanted to get a good look at some of the younger players in physical contact situations.
He got that from freshman safety Chris Board, who had five tackles against some of the starters including a quarterback sack. Board is vying for the backup spot behind senior strong safety Colten Heagle, who is being held out of spring ball.
“I’m just trying to get the defense down,” Board said. “It’s pretty complex.”
Said Klieman: “He can really run and he can really hit. It’s now getting him to understand our defense.”
Board was a highly recruited prospect out of Orlando, Fla. DeSouza wasn’t recruited at all, especially at running back.
“Maybe I’ll raise my expectations,” he said.