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NDSU's Werner going to give pro football a shot

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North Dakota State's Dexter Werner fights for a loose ball against IUPUI's Kellon Thomas Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, at the Scheels Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO—North Dakota State basketball player Dexter Werner, who just finished his decorated career with the Bison, is not done with athletics. He's going to give another sport a shot: Football.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound center will participate in NDSU's annual "Pro Day" next week. It's the skills evaluation that attracts professional scouts from a number of NFL teams that was a national story last year thanks to quarterback Carson Wentz.

This year, Werner may very well be the story, albeit not on a national scope like Wentz. He's being trained at Dynasty Performance in south Fargo, a facility run by former Bison football players Christian Dudzik and Cole Jirik.

It was Dudzik who actually approached Werner on the idea, after Dudzik heard about Werner joking around about the idea.

"So I texted him and he said, yeah, I was kind of considering it," Dudzik said. "I said, let's give it a shot then."

Werner was a multi-sport athlete at Bismarck High School, including being an all-state tight end and the team's punter. He was part of state title teams in basketball, football and track field over the course of his high school school career and was named the senior athlete of the year by a couple of organizations.

"He's a big-framed, athletic kid," said NDSU assistant coach Tyler Roehl, who works with the running backs and tight ends. "With his ability to jump and soft hands, he could turn into a tight end-type position. The biggest question would be his physicality and technique in blocking."

Since he redshirted his freshman year at NDSU, he no longer has eligibility in any sport because of the NCAA five-year clock rule. As for technique, Dudzik and Jirik worked on Werner's football stance on Monday morning.

"Which for the first day looks really good," Dudzik said. "We're working on coming out of it and just working on the fundamentals—the explosive stuff and getting ready for that."

The Pro Day drills are designed to show that explosiveness along with strength and speed with the likes of shuttle runs, 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump and standing long jump.

"His size is good for the NFL, especially with the way he moves," Dudzik said. "We think that if he can show what he can do with his size, the scouts will be intrigued and maybe he can get a shot at a camp."

It's not unheard of for a college basketball player to make it in the NFL as a tight end. Erik Swoope of the Indianapolis Colts and Antonio Gates of Los Angeles Chargers didn't play football at all in college. Swoope played basketball at the University of Miami and Gates at Kent State (Ohio). Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks played one season of football at Miami in a college career that was mainly basketball. Graham is 6-7, 265; Swoope 6-5, 257 and Gates 6-4, 255.

Werner started his basketball season at 240, but weighed in at 225 at Dynasty.

"I think his frame is where he definitely can put some weight on so I think that's something teams will want to see him do," Dudzik said. "But also keep that speed with that kind of size."

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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