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Kolpack: NDSU's all-time leading rusher returns to the spotlight

FARGO--A change in desks in the newsroom not too long ago necessitated cleaning out the bottom drawer, which in my working world was equal to that junk drawer in most of your kitchens. Stuff just kind of got thrown in there over the years.

FARGO-A change in desks in the newsroom not too long ago necessitated cleaning out the bottom drawer, which in my working world was equal to that junk drawer in most of your kitchens. Stuff just kind of got thrown in there over the years.

Among the gems: a Fargo-Moorhead Fever yearbook from the 1993-94 CBA season, a Bison Sports Arena future report from 2001, a North Central Conference directory from 1996-97, an autographed Time magazine cover photo of Lt. Kelly Flinn by my friend and photographer Patrick Hagerty, a folder of Virgil Hill material five inches thick and a Lamar Gordon 2001 Harlon Hill Trophy candidate mini-notebook.

The last one brings back memories of the all-time North Dakota State leading rusher, who returns to the spotlight Friday, Sept. 30, when Gordon is inducted into the Bison Athletic Hall of Fame. He left for the NFL after the final season and hasn't been back to Fargo since.

Suffice to say, he's rather amped up about it. It's like playing UND and Nebraska-Omaha all over again.

Suffice to say, a lot has changed since he led NCAA Division II in rushing in 2000.

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"I know there was support for us in the division that we were in but it's crazy up there now with all of the national attention," Gordon said. "I'm just excited to get back. I haven't been back for 16 years and I'm hearing big things how the program is headed in such a great direction."

In his day, Gordon was a Division I back living in a Division II world. Former Bison assistant Mark Mauer was like a kid at Christmas when Gordon committed to NDSU out of Cudahy High School in Milwaukee.

Mauer was right. Gordon was a big back at 6-foot-1 who grew from a skinny freshman to a 220-pound pro prospect that possessed breakaway speed. Get him on the defensive edge of the old concrete turf at the Fargodome and he was gone. He was a third-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in the 2002 NFL Draft and spent his five seasons in the NFL with four different teams: St. Louis, Miami, Philadelphia and Detroit.

He parlayed his identity to helping inner-city kids in Milwaukee with a non-profit organization. It's a quest he still holds dearly, although he's spending his work time these days with Delta Airlines in Atlanta.

The hope, he said, is to coach football at an inner-city school.

"To teach life's lessons," Gordon said. "I feel like a football locker room is the best way to show people that you can get along with everybody. It goes a long way in life. That's my main focus. I'm out of football now and I have a great career with Delta, but those are things I still want to do."

When Lamar steps to the podium Friday to accept his award, it will in a way be a statistical conclusion to his career. Some player may someday top his all-time rushing record, but nobody can take away Hall of Fame recognition.

"It's something that's always going to be there," he said. "I might cheer now for somebody to break my record. I'll be happy with second place and hopefully whoever does it will have a career at the next level."

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When Lamar was gashing the NCC, nobody in Atlanta knew much about Bison football. Just like everything else around here, that has changed.

"I see North Dakota State knocking off Iowa and I'm laughing at the people down here in SEC territory," he said. "Now I can talk a little bit. We can compete against any school. Our interior lines have always been tough enough to compete and now we have a chance to play with anybody in the nation. It's fun watching it. It was fun watching (ESPN) 'GameDay' and watching the city light up."

It was fun watching Gordon carry the ball. I have the notebook to prove it.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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