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Malstrom making strides as a Division I fullback at NDSU

FARGO -- One of the biggest kids in the school, Garrett Malstrom was an offensive lineman by trade for the Frazee (Minn.) High School football team. More than that, he was better known as an undefeated state champion wrestler for the Hornets.

Garrett Malstrom
Garrett Malstrom

FARGO - One of the biggest kids in the school, Garrett Malstrom was an offensive lineman by trade for the Frazee (Minn.) High School football team. More than that, he was better known as an undefeated state champion wrestler for the Hornets.

So how he went from there to a fullback with the North Dakota State football team is a testament in both parties making it work. The Bison liked him when Frazee brought some kids to their summer team camp, but at 6-feet tall he wasn't a prospect in the offensive line.

They did, however, ask him about fullback.

"The kid fit the prototypical mold of an NDSU fullback," said Bison assistant coach Tyler Roehl. "A small-town Midwestern kid who doesn't shy away from contact."

The problem: Malstrom hadn't played the position and therefore had no high school film of him at the position as a junior.

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The solution: beg your head coach at Frazee to put you at fullback.

"So he threw me in a few games where we were up by a lot," Malstrom said. "He said go for it, do your thing."

The head coach, Jim Rader, said he was more than willing to give Malstrom the shot if it meant a chance of impressing the Bison coaches. Frazee produced a few Division II players awhile ago but never somebody good enough to play at the Division I level.

"So we put some packages together, we even gave him a few carries," Rader said. "He was primarily a blocking back because that's what his forte was. His work ethic was so fantastic, if he needed to get better he was always one to stay after practice and put in the extra time with ball handling drills or pass catching drills."

Malstrom spent last year as a redshirt in the Bison program further working on the trade. He also had the ideal role model to follow in fullback Jedre Cyr, who took the same path Malstrom is on.

Cyr was an offensive lineman at Minnesota's Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton who walked on to NDSU as a fullback. It took some time, but Cyr became a valuable member of a position that carries very little glory in terms of carrying the ball. It's a blocking position.

"It's happened before and it's happening again," Malstrom said. "I talked to (Cyr) and he said the biggest thing is getting used to running routes and catching balls and I would agree that is the biggest thing, too."

With starting fullback Brock Robbins sidelined with a foot injury, Malstrom played about 25 plays in the 31-10 win over Illinois State last Saturday. He's on the travel roster for Saturday's game at Missouri State.

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His old high school coach couldn't be happier.

"I was just flat-out proud of him," Rader said. "I knew what his goals were and to see him have that opportunity to reach those goals for me personally was very rewarding. He spent the last year prepping for this and he finally got that opportunity."

Senior Chase Morlock is listed as the starting fullback for the Bears game, but at 223 pounds he offers a different look at the position. Bison head coach Chris Klieman said he was impressed how Malstrom "moved the pile" against Illinois State.

Behind the scenes, Roehl is impressed with Malstrom's attitude. He's constantly taking notes during position meetings, he said.

"Garrett is really smart, a high GPA and ACT kid," Roehl said. "So understanding the fullback position and understanding what you have to do to be successful - I didn't think it would take him long to figure out, which it didn't. He has a ways to go but he's young and he's heading in the right direction."

Related Topics: CHRIS KLIEMAN
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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