How Many NDSU Starters Return?
I have seen a lot of different numbers where people say how many returning starters NDSU will have for the 2013 season. There were only 8 seniors on last years back to back team and only 4 started games in 2012. Anyone saying a number less than 18 is not good at math.
So who were the four senior starters and who will step in?
GONE: The leader of the Rams Joe Lund who started nearly 30 games at guard and center. He was also a captain last year and is without question the biggest loss going into 2013.
NEXT: Luckily the Rams are loaded and Coach Fuchs will have many great options. First (In no particular order) is last years backup center Adam Schueller from Fergus Falls. He played in 6 games in 2012 and ran with the second team offense all last year. The second is Beatrice, Nebreska’s Jesse Hinz who has starting experience. Hinz sat out of 2012 with an injury but started 4 games in 2010 for the Rams at center. If you watched the spring game you saw a lot of Fargo South graduate Zac Johnson at center. Johnson sat out last year after transferring from Valley City State where he started his freshman year at right guard and the next year at right tackle. Another option is kick one of the guards inside. I’m going to guess Senior Tyler Gimmestad stays at right guard. I understand the benefit of a senior leader as the anchor for your line, but with so many options it would be nice to have a returning starter at that position heading into 2014. Two guys started at left guard last year Josh Colville and Zack Johnson. Johnson only started one game, but played in 13 and as stacked as the Rams are he was good enough to do this as a true freshman. Colville started all the other games at left guard and was named 2012 College Sports Journal FCS All-Freshman Team and 2012 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team.
GONE: Another Beatrice, Nebreska great in Garrett Bruhn could be considered losing a starter. But Bruhn started in only 8 of NDSU’s 15 games last year due to injuries. He will no doubt be missed as he was the ultimate team player. Started 1 game his freshman year, 2 his sophomore year and 4 his junior year.
NEXT: Kevin Vaadeland from Park Rapids, Minnesota started 6 games last year at TE catching 18 passes and 2 TD’s. There is also Minnetonka’s Taylor Nelson who only caught 5 passes last year but 3 were for TD’s. Another returning starter is Andrew Bonnet from Council Blluffs, Iowa who caught 11 passes last year and started 3 games. Add in Lucas Albers and 3 2013 recruits and you have many great options to start for NDSU in 2013.
GONE: Andre’ Martin Jr started 13 of 15 games for NDSU last year at CB and should go down as one of the better transfers in the history of NDSU. But let’s not forget Martin didn’t start the year at CB opposite Marcus Williams and little was expected out of him heading into 2012. He was transferring in from Northern Iowa to play with his former coach Chris Klieman. Martin just flat out played himself into the starting lineup as he wasn’t expected to start last year.
NEXT: Hard not to point to Miramar, Florida’s Brendin Pierre as the next man up. He started the first two games last year as a junior and has 9 other starts over his career, including six as a true freshman. But not so fast as Klieman has 3 other great options in CJ Smith, Jordan Champion and Zach Colvin. Some reports even have Smith as the leader heading into fall camp. One thing is clear all four will get plenty of playing time and with teams avoiding Marcus Williams like the plague. Whoever wins this battle will have a great chance at winning some awards with all the passes thrown at them.
GONE: Bobby Ollman from Meqoun, Wisconsin was everything you could hope for from a senior. He was a warrior on special teams and when NDSU was looking to give their linebackers a breather, they looked to move Ollman from Strong Safety to Outside Linebacker. But when 2 other Strong Safety’s were injured, Ollman moved back to his original position and started 9 games,
NEXT: This one should really be called BACK as both the #1 and #2 at the position heading into 2012 return and should be healthy. Appleton Wisconsin’s Colten Heagle was picked by some in the media to win a All-American award before the 2012 season started. Heagle started the first two games of 2012 and had 17 starts his first two years at NDSU. Heagle received a medical redshirt for 2012 so he will be a Junior in 2013 and it’s his job when he is healthy. Also returning is Bryan Shepherd from Olathe, Kansas who started at SS the first four games after Heagle went down.
So it all boils down to what you consider a returning starter. Ollman was a beast, but third on the depth chart heading in 2012. If Heagle returns 100% NDSU improves at this position. Bruhn missed nearly half the season and besides the championship game he missed all the playoffs. With the 3 options listed above, this is a wash. Same goes for CB, plug in any of the four listed above who could have easily started last year had Martin not been allowed to transfer.
So I will be the first to say it, NDSU RETURNS 21 STARTERS