North Dakota State gives scout team players chance to show what they have
FARGO -- There are 41 college football bowl games this holiday season, although some North Dakota State players would probably tell you there are 42. Their time to shine came last week.If you're looking for TV coverage, there wasn't any. Defensiv...
FARGO - There are 41 college football bowl games this holiday season, although some North Dakota State players would probably tell you there are 42. Their time to shine came last week.
If you’re looking for TV coverage, there wasn’t any. Defensive tackle Brian Schaetz calls it the “Rookie Bowl.”
It’s an intrasquad scrimmage of sorts where scout team players who won’t be on the field for the FCS title game Jan. 9 against Jacksonville State (Ala.) get a chance to put on the pads.
“We try to get some of the rookies up and figure out how they can play,” said Schaetz, who had his Rookie Bowl experience as a redshirt before the 2011 title game. “We’re trying to get the young guys in, seeing the talent that we haven’t seen and try to get them active into this game, too, because they’re a big part.”
Scout team players are generally freshmen who are redshirting. Their main job during the week: to simulate an opponent’s offense and defense to give the first and second team players a good feel for what they’ll see on Saturday.
If pressed for a scout team MVP, outside linebacker MJ Stumpf said he would give it to freshman quarterback James Hendricks, who until the Bison get to Frisco, Texas, is playing the part of Jacksonville quarterback Eli Jenkins.
“He reminds me of how Easton helped out last year,” Stumpf said of quarterback Easton Stick, who redshirted last season. “He can run the ball and throw it too. And we also have a few young offensive linemen who have been very good.”
It’s the fifth title game appearance in a row for the Bison, and that’s five years of having nearly two more months of practice to develop younger players. NDSU will dress the NCAA maximum 60 for the championship game, but everybody will travel. In the past, the younger players who didn’t dress still did some strength and conditioning work at a nearby Frisco high school.
The Bison players liken the two or three weeks between the semifinal and final games to a “winter camp” type of approach.
“We’re grinding and getting ready,” Stumpf said. “Everyone has been through the process a time or two before and the coaches know the formula. There’s a process to it.”
It’s become another phase of the year-long football program. It starts with winter conditioning and moves to spring football. After a brief break, the players return for summer conditioning, take a week off and start fall camp.
“You get a few extra weeks for the young guys to keep developing, which is really huge,” Stumpf said. “It continues to spark success for future years, gives them extra time to learn more things.”