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Dustin Monke / Forum Communications Co., Published June 15 2012

NDSU recruits anchor Team North Dakota in Badlands Bowl

DICKINSON, N.D. – Rod Oksendahl knows a good offensive lineman when he sees one. After all, he coached Rob Hunt – one of the best centers North Dakota has ever produced – during his time at Cavalier High School.

So, when Oksendahl looks at Jack Plankers and Landon Lechler, he sees a duo with bright futures ahead.

“Their size is the impressive thing right now and their ability to control their body, use their body the way they do,” Oksendahl said.

Plankers and Lechler – a pair of 6-foot-7 North Dakota State recruits from Kindred and Beach, respectively – will anchor what Oksendahl said is an intelligent and talented offensive line for Team North Dakota in the Badlands Bowl high school all-star football game, which begins at

7 p.m. CDT today at the Badlands Activities Center.

“They’re, by far, the most intelligent group we’ve ever had,” said Oksendahl, the head coach at Fargo Shanley. “Collectively, they’re very sharp. The thing we like about them is they sit at the same table at meal time and eat together. They do a tremendous job of just meshing together. The impressive thing is how they’ve caught on to our system and the intelligence level they have.”

What fans will surely notice, however, is the line’s size.

Plankers, a Class 2A

all-state selection, is a fit 290 pounds and expected to play at tackle. Lechler, a

9-man, all-Region 4 selection, is a well-built 240 pounds and will mostly play at guard. In some formations, they’ll be playing on the same side of the line.

“We’ve both got a bit of size we can bring,” Plankers said with a smile. “We’re not unathletic. So I figure we can bring at least a little bit of athleticism.”

Oksendahl said he can’t compare either player to Hunt, an All-America standout at NDSU who won the Rimington Award for best center in NCAA Division I-AA football in 2005. Hunt was selected in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, the coach said it’s easy to see why the duo was recruited by the Bison.

“These guys got a lot of ability,” Oksendahl said. “They’re going to be very good football players down the road.”

Plankers and Lechler said they have used the past week to learn more about each other since they hope to be spending the next four or five seasons as teammates.

“It’s really nice, not only just from the fact that we’ll be playing together anyway in a couple months but he’s a great guy to be around, he’s a tremendous athlete,” Plankers said. “It’s always nice to have that kind of size right next to you.”

Neither player is accustomed to playing next to someone similarly built.

At Beach, Lechler was a giant compared to most of his teammates. On the Kindred football team’s photo, Plankers sits front and center and looks like a man among boys.

“It’s different, that’s for sure, playing with a lot of smaller guys,” Lechler said. “Looking over and seeing the same-sized guy next to you, it’s kind of weird sometimes.”

Team North Dakota quarterback Devin Coyle of Mandan, listed at 6-foot on the Badlands Bowl roster, said he feels confident working behind the team’s offensive line.

There’s only one issue, he said.

“I have to wait for the seam to develop because I definitely can’t throw over the top of them,” Coyle said with a laugh.

Monke is the sports editor for

The Dickinson Press