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FNS Photo by Carrie Snyder 
North Dakota State’s Nate Tanguay, right, runs drills during practice on Wednesday at Dacotah Field in Fargo.
FNS Photo by Carrie Snyder North Dakota State’s Nate Tanguay, right, runs drills during practice on Wednesday at Dacotah Field in Fargo.
Tanguay impacting NDSU camp
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FARGO — If you’re going to fill big shoes in the North Dakota State defensive line, you might as well do it with guys who have big shoes. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing freshman Nate Tanguay, the heir apparent at defensive tackle, who stands 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds.

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He’s already No. 1 on the depth chart (that doesn’t mean he’s locked down a starting spot) even though he hasn’t played a down, and his best contribution last season came on scout team. Wednesday was the first day in full pads in Bison spring practice, so there are better benchmarks to come.

Tanguay said he’s ready to tackle the pressure that comes with replacing the likes of Leevon Perry, Ryan Drevlow and Danny Luecke.

“I fully expect myself not to miss a beat from where we left off last year,” he said.

It’s an admirable attitude, although defensive tackles coach Nick Goeser said that probably isn’t realistic. That goes for the other freshman interior linemen like Austin Farnlof and Grant Morgan.

“Oh, I have my hands full,” Goeser said. “But you know what? It’s exciting too. We’re going to find out what kind of coach I am real quick.”

So far, Tanguay has checked off all that was expected of him. He came in at what Goeser called a soft 280 pounds. Almost a full school year in the weight and conditioning program changed that.

Tanguay went the extra mile with winter workouts, getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get to the Bison Sports Arena for a 6 a.m. start. He came back around 1 p.m. to lift again, he said.

“Every time I was lifting, I thought about Iowa State and how much I needed to gain and what I needed to do to play my best,” he said.

NDSU opens its season Aug. 30 at Iowa State. The Bison return several players with starting experience on defense — the interior defensive line is not one of them.

But that’s what helped draw Tanguay to NDSU from Mukwonago, Wis., in the first place. He had 85 tackles his senior year, including 22 for lost yardage and 8.5 quarterback sacks. A Wisconsin recruiting sight ranked him the fifth-best defensive lineman coming out of the state.

He picked NDSU over offers from Western Michigan, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois, and he saw a bunch of NDSU veterans who would need somebody behind them to contribute quickly.

“I knew I could learn from guys who were part of two championships,” Tanguay said. “I wanted to be part of a third one. I knew they were leaving, and I wanted to make sure I made a statement as a redshirt freshman that I can play next year.”

Wednesday was a big day in that regard.

“We’ve only been in our pajamas so far. We haven’t put any pads on,” Goeser said. “We’ll strap on the pads and go against our offense, which is as physical as any team we go against. We’ll find out real fast where we’re at.”

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