UND center McGurran has been a steady 4-year starterGRAND FORKS — As a freshman in 2009, University of North Dakota center Ian McGurran walked onto the field in Lubbock, Texas, as he prepared to face Texas Tech of the Big 12.
By: Tom Miller, The Dickinson Press
GRAND FORKS — As a freshman in 2009, University of North Dakota center Ian McGurran walked onto the field in Lubbock, Texas, as he prepared to face Texas Tech of the Big 12.
How intimidating was the moment? The last time McGurran played in a game his Fargo North Spartans were taking on the Wahpeton Huskies.
“That feels like a while ago, but I remember being really nervous before the game,” McGurran said.
McGurran started that game in Texas and hasn’t missed a start since. McGurran will start his 43rd consecutive game Saturday afternoon when UND hosts Southern Utah at the Alerus Center.
“Ian brings physical and mental toughness,” UND coach Chris Mussman said. “We need more guys like that. Some of our success offensively is because of that attitude. That’s Ian in a nutshell. He’s played a lot of ball, so I only have to tell him things once. Then he goes out and performs.”
McGurran’s Iron Man streak is especially impressive considering his offensive line position. This year alone, McGurran is the only offensive lineman to start all nine games.
McGurran stands alone in reliability. The next longest consecutive-start streak for the Green and White is 20 games from left tackle Darren Deneui, who is now out for the season after suffering an injury last week against Montana State.
The only UND player anywhere near McGurran for total career starts is defensive end Ross Brenneman, who has 36 career starts. Brenneman, however, has missed the last few games with a leg injury.
“I definitely feel fortunate,” McGurran said. “I feel lucky to play early in my career and fortunate to be healthy and keep playing.”
McGurran was named team captain prior to the season. His father, who played center at UND from 1980-82, also was a team captain.
That affiliation led the Fargo native out of North Dakota State country to join UND.
“It was a dream of mine to play here,” McGurran said.
UND running back Mitch Sutton and Mussman were in agreement when assessing the play of McGurran. He was described as a heady leader who gets the job done, despite not possessing the greatest athletic prowess.
“He gets the job done somehow, no matter the situation,” Sutton said. “He knows what’s going on. He isn’t the most athletic guy, but he always gets it done.”
Said Mussman: “Just when you think he can’t get it done, he gets it done. He’s not the greatest athlete, and he’s the first to admit that. He’s just a tough son-of-a-gun.”
On Saturday, McGurran and the other 15 seniors will play their final game at the Alerus Center.
Mussman said this class has special meaning. It was his first recruiting class after taking over halfway through the process when former head coach Dale Lennon took the top job at Southern Illinois.
It’s also a class that chose UND, despite a number of unknown factors.
“We spent a lot of time together through this transition,” Mussman said. “They came here without knowing if they’d have a home (conference affiliation), not knowing if we would be Division I or Division II.
“When we look back 20 years from now, this will be a vital class to what happens in the future of UND football.”