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Smith returns from injury to play Saturday

FARGO — It will be the last college game of his career and Ryan Smith would probably play in the Division I FCS title game even if his hamstrings were surgically removed. As it is, the North Dakota State receiver said he’s good to go for Towson University (Md.).

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He was taken out early in the semifinal game against New Hampshire, although he said he could have played if needed.

“It was something minor and the coaches were taking precautions with it,” Smith said. “It was kind of a blowout so they held me back.”

Smith said he’s been doing some workouts that have him at near full speed. He expects to go full speed on Wednesday.

Head coach Craig Bohl said a decision hasn’t been made yet if Smith will return kickoffs and punts. Junior Christian Dudzik has been handling the punt duties in practice.

Meanwhile, it appears Towson starting quarterback Peter Athens will start against NDSU. He injured his throwing shoulder in the semifinal win at Eastern Washington.

Tigers head coach Rob Ambrose told The Sports Network that Athens has been taking repetitions with the No. 1 offense. Athens started all 15 games throwing for 3,194 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Even so, Bohl said the Bison will prepare for Athens and backup Connor Frazier, although he hinted he fully expects Athens to play.

“When you have a national championship game on the line and everything’s out there, your adrenaline gets running as a player,” Bohl said. “Typically those guys are able to find a way on the field.”

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at 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.