NDSU’s players from the Twin Cities area felt overlooked by GophersFARGO — North Dakota State tight end Matt Veldman’s grandfather has been a University of Minnesota season ticket holder for around 50 years. His father used to have season tickets.
By: Jeff Kolpack, Forum Communications Co.
FARGO — North Dakota State tight end Matt Veldman’s grandfather has been a University of Minnesota season ticket holder for around 50 years. His father used to have season tickets.
Linebacker Grant Olson grew up a Gopher fan, right up until the point he committed to NDSU.
“I can admit that,” he said. “I have no problems with that.”
His brother attends Minnesota, his uncle went there and his grandparents met there.
Offensive lineman Billy Turner’s uncle went to Minnesota. Growing up 10 minutes from the Metrodome, he and his brother, former Northern Iowa receiver Maurice Turner, had dreams of playing for the Gophers.
“After they passed him up, we were hoping that hopefully they wouldn’t pass me up,” said Billy Turner, from Mounds View. “But the same thing happened. It was as big deal.”
NDSU and Minnesota will play each other for the third time since 2006 on Saturday night and for the third time, the Bison will have several players with essentially the same story: the feeling of being overlooked by the local major college football team.
All three players from the Twin Cities area were offered walkon opportunities with Turner being offered “grayshirt” status, where players walk on the first year and the school says it will scholarship you after that.
“They did that toward the end of the season but I had already committed up here,” Turner said. “At that point, it was like, ‘What’s the point?’ After they overlooked me, it was like, forget you guys.”
Turner watched the 2007 NDSU-Minnesota game on TV because his family was friends with former Gopher quarterback Adam Weber, who went to high school with Maurice Turner. Olson, from Wayzata, was at the 2006 game and also watched the ’07 game on TV while hunting.
“I was rooting for the Gophers because that’s who I grew up watching,” he said. “The funny thing is, I remember Tyler Roehl and saying ‘Who is this guy running over everybody?’”
Roehl, now a Bison assistant coach, ran for a school-record 263 yards in the ’07 game.
Veldman was at that game as a redshirt freshman for NDSU. A year earlier, he was in the Metrodome stands as a Gopher recruit for this game.
“I remember walking away impressed with the Bison program,” Veldman said.
An offer never came about; a Gopher assistant drove to his home in Becker and gave him the walk-on news. He had the support of his family, although he said it took his grandfather, Pete Veldman, a little longer to come on board.
“It’s definitely a bigger game for me,” he said. “The generic response is all games are important but this does have a little more significance growing up in the shadow of the dome.”
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.