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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FARGO—Kelli Layman coached her last women's basketball practice when head coach Amy Ruley retired after the 2007 North Dakota State season. But, in another respect, she hasn't stopped teaching players how to win. As the associate director of athletic academics, she helped lead a striking statistic with the Bison football team. A total of 20 players registered a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in the fall semester. That's around one-fifth of the team.
FARGO—North Dakota State signed 24 players in the NCAA early signing period a few days ago, with 23 talking about how they're looking forward to joining the program at some point next summer. Jaydn Ewing of Watford City, N.D., has other plans. He signed his papers last Wednesday, Dec. 20, and said see you in two years. The 6-foot-3, 231-pound Ewing is going on an Latter-day Saints (LDS) church mission with his destination anywhere in the world. He'll find out in the next couple months where he's going.
FARGO—The plan in landing North Dakota State's 2018 football recruiting class began last January when the Bison staff returned from the American Football Coaches Association annual convention. It was obvious that the NCAA was going to approve a new early-signing date for Division I in mid-December and NDSU would have to adjust its recruiting timeline. The result came to fruition last Wednesday when NDSU got the signature of 24 players.
FARGO — Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, hosted an NCAA Division I FBS bowl game on Wednesday night, Dec. 20, when Southern Methodist played Louisiana Tech in the DXL Frisco Bowl. The main football event in terms of a festive atmosphere, however, will take place on Jan. 6. That's when North Dakota State and James Madison will pack the place for the FCS national championship. Attendance for the Frisco Bowl was 14,449 in a stadium that will carry a capacity of slightly over 18,000 for the Bison and Dukes.
FARGO — It's the middle of December, not the first Wednesday in February, but the recruiting results looked no different for North Dakota State. The Bison announced the addition of 24 players to their program on Wednesday, Dec. 20, the first day of a new NCAA early-signing period. The legislation for a three-day window was passed last spring, which is in addition to the regular February national signing day. "This was different for us to do it on Dec. 20," said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. "But we felt we hit a home run today, we really did."
FARGO—If you were to ask head coach Mike Grant to write an essay on why his Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School football program is a perennial winner, he may have trouble getting through the first paragraph. Certainly, stability is a principle topic—Grant has had many of the same assistant coaches for years. And, certainly, you need players. You need good players.
FARGO — It was in the year or two after Craig Bohl was hired as the North Dakota State head football coach in 2003 when the footprint for stocking his football team was obvious: Get the big guys from around here and go south to find some speed. It wasn't that cut-and-dried, of course, but when Bohl hired Reggie Moore as an assistant football coach, the No. 1 job for Reggie was to take advantage of his name recognition in the Houston area and bring some recruits north.
FARGO—Bruce Anderson went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He went way over. In fact, he went so far over on Friday night that he ended up in Texas. That's where North Dakota State is headed after defeating Sam Houston State 55-13 in front of 18,279 fans who threw a hoedown at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. The only thing missing was Bruce Almighty leaving the field wearing a cowboy hat. The win put the Bison in the FCS title game for the sixth time in seven years Jan. 6 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
FARGO — Tim Polasek was known to blurt out whatever came to his mind when he was the North Dakota State offensive coordinator, like the day when he was in a meeting with the Bison fullbacks and tight ends. A nickname for the position group just came to him. Crew Chiefs. The thought could be traced to his playing days at Concordia University (Wis.), but the message fit the tough, old school-style of the Bison offense.
FARGO — The statistical sheet of the Sam Houston State offense has so many numbers on it you practically need your accountant to sort it all out. Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, for instance, has completed 81 more passes than North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick has attempted. It's a high-flying, up-tempo attack that has done an assault on the school and FCS record books the last couple of seasons. The Bison will see the reality of it Friday, Dec. 15, in the FCS semifinal clash at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.