Tom Miller / Forum News Service
GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota football program stayed in-state to land its first verbal commitment of the 2020 recruiting class. Mandan wide receiver Elijah Klein announced his commitment Tuesday morning. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior-to-be led the state in receiving yards by more than 300. En route to all-state, first-team honors, Klein caught 41 balls for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns. Klein, who might see time at tight end for UND, became the first Mandan player in program history to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota has turned to one of the top NCAA Division II men's basketball programs to fill its head coaching vacancy. Northern State head coach Paul Sather was announced Thursday morning as the next head coach of the Fighting Hawks. Sather, a 1996 graduate of Northern State, has been head coach at the Aberdeen, S.D., school for the last nine years and was selected as the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Coach of the Year each of the last two seasons.
GRAND FORKS - Two former University of North Dakota football players put pen to paper Monday, signing their first professional contracts. Cornerback Deion Harris signed a free-agent deal with the Washington Redskins, while running back Brady Oliveira signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. “THANK YOU Washington Redskins and their staff for taking a chance on me and allowing me to carry on my dreams of playing in the NFL,” Harris said in a post to his Instagram account.
GRAND FORKS -- Every so often, a University of North Dakota basketball game is scheduled at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on a weekday during a 9 to 5 timeframe. Like no other Division I school around, Grand Forks attendance doesn’t suffer during business hours because UND basketball fans are retirement age. That’s not a compliment to the state of the program. It’s a reminder of the life that needs to be breathed into the basketball scene on campus.
GRAND FORKS -- In a matter of a week, the University of North Dakota athletic department had two head coaches in higher profile sports announce departures. Coaching moves in Division I athletics are common, but the next destination for the coach in each instance raised some eyebrows. Men’s basketball coach Brian Jones is leaving a head coaching job for an associate head coaching role at Illinois State of the Missouri Valley Conference. Volleyball coach Mark Pryor is remaining a head coach but dropping down two levels to coach a Division III program in Texas.
GRAND FORKS -The only head men’s basketball coach the University of North Dakota has known in the Division I era is leaving Grand Forks. Fighting Hawks coach Brian Jones has accepted the associate head coaching position at Illinois State. Jones, 48, spent 13 seasons leading UND. The Rock Island, Ill., native, hired before the 2006-07 season, has a 190-217 (.467 winning percentage) career mark. UND announced that assistant Steve Grabowski will serve as the interim coach while the school conducts a national search for a new head coach.
GRAND FORKS -- When the NFL draft ended Saturday, April 27, former University of North Dakota cornerback Deion Harris was a little nervous about not hearing much. “It was quiet,” Harris said. “I thought maybe it was over, but then I figured some team might take a chance. Right after that, I heard from the Packers and then the Redskins called. It was probably a matter of 10-15 minutes after the draft.”
GRAND FORKS -- The date has been set for the first University of North Dakota-North Dakota State football game in the Alerus Center since 2003. The Fighting Hawks will host the Bison Oct. 2, 2021. The UND football program released its 2021 schedule on social media Wednesday afternoon, April 24. By the time the Bison come to Grand Forks, NDSU will have hosted the first three matchups between the two schools in the Division I era. NDSU beat UND 34-9 on Sept. 19, 2015.
GRAND FORKS -- The top NFL draft analysts don’t have any University of North Dakota football players being selected in this weekend’s seven rounds. Saturday, though, could still be an exciting day for the pro futures of five former Fighting Hawks. Running backs Brady Oliveira and John Santiago, cornerback Deion Harris and defensive linemen Tank Harris and Austin Cieslak have been working out since the end of the 2018 season in hopes of landing an NFL opportunity.
GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota football program will conduct its annual Spring Wrap-up on Friday, April 12, at 6 p.m. at the High Performance Center. The Spring Wrap-up, which is open to the public and features a scrimmage-like setup, is the 15th and final practice of the school year. To review the spring, the Grand Forks Herald reached out to readers to submit questions about the program. Here are the results: Q. What does the running back depth chart look like?