Bison fullbacks Robbins, Malstrom chip off the old small-school block
FARGO -- The recipe to start at fullback in the North Dakota State offense has been pretty standard in the FCS playoff years: big, physical, willing to block and hail from a small high school.The first three traits are what Bison coaches look for...
FARGO - The recipe to start at fullback in the North Dakota State offense has been pretty standard in the FCS playoff years: big, physical, willing to block and hail from a small high school.
The first three traits are what Bison coaches look for in the recruiting process. The fact that Jedre Cyr, Andrew Bonnet, Andrew Grothmann and Garrett Bruhn all came from smaller schools was more of a coincidence - sort of.
“They all have that workmanlike attitude,” said NDSU assistant coach Tyler Roehl.
Cyr and Bonnet finished their eligibility last season, leaving a job opening for an important, albeit unsung, spot in the Bison offense. Freshmen Brock Robbins and Garrett Malstrom happen to be big, physical, willing to block and both come from small towns.
In other words, they fit the mold.
“It’s definitely a mentality,” Robbins said. “You have to come in willing to sacrifice your body a little bit.”
Robbins is from Cavalier, where he was in the mold of a big man on campus. He was the star running back rushing for over 2,000 yards his senior year and the team’s stopper at middle linebacker. The Tornadoes went 44-3 in his career, including two North Dakota 9-man state titles.
“You just know how to win,” Robbins said. “You know what it takes to get the job done and carry on exactly what they do here.”
As a fullback at NDSU, there won’t be that individual glory. Cyr had two career carries and both came in his senior year. Bonnet had eight career rushing attempts and the first one didn’t come until his junior year, which was his fourth year in school.
“It’s humbling right away,” said Roehl, who works with the fullbacks and tight ends. “Shoot, what has he had, maybe two catches in four (spring) practices. But first things first: He has to block. To get a spot on the field, he has to be able to block, and we’ve got a long ways to go with that.”
But what has Robbins as the No. 1 fullback on the spring football depth chart is his 6-foot-1, 238-pound frame and road-grading mentality. What the Bison liked about him in summer camp when Robbins was in high school was his willingness to keep hitting every play, every day, and he hasn’t disappointed since arriving at NDSU.
“It’s exciting to be in the mix with the 1s,” Robbins said. “It’s been a grind, but it makes you better.”
The 6-1, 244-pound Malstrom, from Vergas, Minn., played for Frazee-Vergas High School and walked on to NDSU. Like Robbins, Roehl said he has that acceptance of learning how to block.
“He has a long way to go as well, but he’s willing to hit and be a sponge for the playbook,” Roehl said. “That’s what we love about those two kids.”
That along with their background. Cyr was from Glyndon, Minn., Bonnet played high school ball for Underwood, Iowa., Bruhn was from Beatrice, Neb. and Grothmann from Hillsboro. In Robbins’ case, he spent one year as the understudy to Cyr and Bonnet.
“Their effort is just unreal, and hopefully I can take some of that and learn from that,” he said.