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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 27 2012

Bison make position switches as spring practice approaches

FARGO – A few position switches, a highly regarded recruit leaving, a couple lingering injuries and some added depth. That is the state of the North Dakota State football team with spring football right around the corner.

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago the season ended in Frisco, Texas?

“There wasn’t much of an offseason at all,” said head coach Craig Bohl.

There was enough of one, however, for a few notable movements to take place, highlighted by moving starting cornerback Christian Dudzik to free safety. NDSU lost seniors Daniel Eaves and John Pike, and Dudzik is tabbed as a replacement along with Bryan Shepherd, who also is moving from cornerback.

Freshman safety Frank Veldman, a highly-touted recruit a year ago, left the team, Bohl said.

“He decided college football wasn’t for him,” Bohl said.

Bohl said moving two cornerbacks to safety was made possible with the depth at that position, which he calls the deepest in his nine years as the head coach. Brendin Pierre, a former starter, is back after missing last year for academic reasons.

Zach Colvin, who broke his foot prior to last season, is back for spring football, which begins March 24.

In other movements, according to Bohl:

-Quarterback Brock Jensen continues to be hampered by a turf toe injury sustained last fall.

-The backup quarterback job will be a battle between Esley Thorton, Carson Wentz and Ryan Stanford in spring ball. Asked if moving Thorton to another position is a possibility, Bohl said, “He’s a quarterback. The positive thing about Esley is he has a lot of skills that could transition him to either a safety, outside linebacker or receiver.”

-Backup defensive tackle Anthony LaVoy is being moved to left guard. Guardcenter Jesse Hinz is being moved to right tackle to battle with Jason Pomerenke and Jeff Jerve, who may miss spring football with knee issues.

-Receiver Zach Vraa is back at full strength after dealing with problems to both collarbones in the last two years. Bohl said he had a pin inserted into one. Receiver Trevor Gebhart continues to battle a stress fracture, but is expected to compete in spring ball.

-Sam Ojuri, Derrick Lang and Matt Jones are the three running backs for spring camp. Running back John Crockett is expected to be academically eligible for fall camp. “Things are looking probable there,” Bohl said. NDSU also signed junior college running back Deveon Dinwiddie.

-Linebacker Don Carter and defensive lineman Joe Horvath will miss spring football for academic reasons. Linebacker Tyler Gefroh suffered a torn Achilles heel during a winter workouts drill and will miss some fall practice.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia