Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO—It was exactly 12 months last week when life took a wrong turn for North Dakota State defensive end Greg Menard. More precisely, his knee took a wrong turn. Menard tore his ACL during a non-contact drill in the first week of fall practice for the 2017 season, an injury that has been a day-to-day battle for him to return to the form that made him one of the top players in Division I FCS in 2016. It's nothing new in athletics, rehabbing an ACL, but that didn't make it any easier.
FARGO — Louis Shepherd was only 44 years old when he passed away last month in a Kansas City medical center. The celebration of life service was held on July 28 in Blue Springs, Mo., and among those on hand were several North Dakota State football players. They drove the nine hours to help their teammate, senior receiver Darrius Shepherd, cope with the loss. "It was really a special moment when I found out all of those guys were coming down," Shepherd said.
FARGO — It's a fact in football that only one ball is allowed on the field during a game. It's a fact North Dakota State returns a wealth of experienced running backs uncommon for most Division I FCS programs. Bruce Anderson. Lance Dunn. Ty Brooks. Seth Wilson. Adam Cofield. Demaris Purifoy. They all have at least 25 career carries with the seniors Anderson and Dunn having the most with 362 and 354 respectively. Are there enough footballs to go around?
FARGO—North Dakota State University's annual media day, which is set for Wednesday, Aug. 8, used to be the public's first look of the season at the Bison. Technology, social media and the general popularity of the defending NCAA Division I FCS national champions has changed that in recent years, however, with most fans having a good idea what the squad looks like all-year around.
FARGO—The unquestioned leader on the North Dakota State defense last year was free safety Tre Dempsey, who could be quiet and unassuming off the field but vocal between the lines. Dempsey has since graduated, taking his skillset to another facet of life. The issue of his replacement this fall will not be a matter of finding a list of candidates. There are plenty.
FARGO—North Dakota State University began football practice on Friday morning, Aug. 3, with 24 seniors, the largest senior class since the 2013 season. That group had 26 seniors and finished undefeated with a third straight FCS national title. Making those two parallels, of course, is risky at best. But NDSU head coach Chris Klieman also has the luxury of knowing that mature football teams usually perform better in practice. And that usually carries over to games.
FARGO—Practice starts this week for teams in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. For the true freshmen in the league who are getting their first taste of college ball, no longer is it a given that almost all of them will redshirt. A new NCAA rule passed in the offseason allows teams to play true freshmen up to four games without the player losing a year of eligibility. That means when North Dakota State begins practice on Friday, the 28 true freshmen in theory will be out to prove they can play right away.
FARGO — It was about as surprising as the sun coming up in the east. North Dakota State on Monday was tabbed the unanimous pick to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference title in a vote of league coaches, sports information directors and media. NDSU picked up all 39 first place votes, the second time in league history a school got every No. 1 vote. The Bison were the unanimous pick in 2013, a season that ended 15-0 and a third straight FCS national title.
FARGO—The Summit League released its 2018-19 men's and women's basketball schedules this week and once again, you'll have to pay close attention to your calendar as to when North Dakota State plays its home games. There is no fluidity, consistency or regularity to it. It's the result of the league being at an odd number of teams. We've beaten this drum to death over the years, but wouldn't it be nice if there was an every-other-week, Thursday-Saturday home game look to the Summit schedule?
FARGO—North Dakota State begins football practice next week, and when the Bison take their first steps onto the practice field, they'll find a well-manicured lawn that is as plush as anything in the city. For 10 years, Tom Drietz has operated behind the scenes in taking care of it and that's the way he likes it. He's the sports turf manager for the school.