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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 19 2012

Title lures talent: Bison's Bohl shies away from FBS transfers

FARGO – The Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title brought a lot of attention to North Dakota State. Also taking notice were players in Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

Bison head coach Craig Bohl said his program had an unusually high number of contacts from FBS players looking to transfer to NDSU in the last couple of months.

“There are a lot of good players out there,” he said.

But it appears none will land at NDSU mainly because it’s not in the program’s recruiting footprint.

“It’s not worked out well for us so we’ve kind of shied away from that,” Bohl said. “We have not made a history of recruiting a lot of those guys and I know some programs in our league have.”

NDSU had nine transfers on last year’s team with only one – kicker Ryan Jastram – from a FBS school. Jastram, from Sioux Falls, S.D., walked on after leaving New Mexico State in 2009. Six transfers came from junior colleges.

“We’ve always supplemented our football team with some good junior college players,” Bohl said. “Those guys have been great program guys so we’ll continue to do that. I would say we have better results with that than mixed results so look for us to do something along those lines.”

That’s not to say it’s not tempting to bring an FBS transfer into the program.

“Yeah, everything always looks good on the outside but there’s a reason why they’re transferring,” Bohl said. “Now, I’m not saying certain guys don’t deserve a second chance but typically when a guy wants to transfer, there’s a real flaw on why he’s transferring so that’s why we’ve shied away from that.”

Shied away, to say the least. Besides Jastram, only three other FBS transfers have made it an entire year on a Bison roster in Bohl’s nine years at NDSU. Defensive tackle Jeff Bohlman (Air Force) and offensive tackle Paul Backowski (Colorado) were on the 2007 team and quarterback Andrew Fabry (Arizona State) was on the ’08 roster.

Safety Darius Purcell transferred from the University of Illinois in 2008, but quit after six games. Another Illinois transfer, offensive lineman Tony Sparkman, transferred in 2004 but did not play a game.

NDSU brought in receiver Sydney Haynes from Central Florida and linebacker Brian Kuhtz from Wyoming in the spring semester of 2009, but neither lasted. In the summer of 2010, defensive end Tyler Westphal - who out of high school was considered one of the top recruits out of the state of Wisconsin - transferred to NDSU from the University of Wisconsin. He lasted just a few weeks.

Backowski had the most promise, but back problems forced him to quit.

“We’re clinging to our value system,” Bohl said. “We’re made up of guys traditionally from our immediate area and certain we’ve gone out to other areas. But you’re not going to see a lot of wholesale changes with our program.”

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

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