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Eric Peterson, Published August 08 2012

Jerve happy to be back on field for Bison

FARGO – After a pair of microfracture surgeries on his right knee, Jeff Jerve appreciates being back on the football field.

The North Dakota State junior right tackle missed nearly all of last season after undergoing knee surgery last October, the second on his right knee.

“It’s the best feeling ever being back on the field with all the guys again and being able to hit people again,” said Jerve, who had his first right knee surgery in April 2011. “I try not to worry about my knee and just play as fast as I can.”

Jerve is competing for a starting spot at right tackle along with sophomore Jason Pomerenke. Redshirt freshman Joe Haeg is also in the mix.

The Bison practiced on their newly installed Gate City Bank Field turf Wednesday morning in the Fargodome. Practice was moved inside due to rain overnight.

Coming off last year’s FCS national championship, NDSU is looking to replace two departed starters on the offensive line – including All-American right tackle Paul Cornick.

“You’re not going to replace a guy like Cornick, but I think we are going to be pretty solid,” said Bison offensive line coach Scott Fuchs.

Jerve said his knee feels “100 percent for the first time in a while.” He’s hoping to have a healthy fall camp so he can be a solid contributor once the season starts.

“I just feel like I haven’t proved myself yet,” Jerve said. “I just want to get on the field and move the defenders and I just want to play and help the team.”

Junior guard Tyler Gimmestad is one of the returning starters on the offensive front, along with left tackle Billy Turner and center Joe Lund.

While Gimmestad said he will miss having Cornick lined up to his right, he likes the talent competing for the starting right tackle spot.

“(Cornick) helped me out a lot,” said the 6-foot-2, 298-pound Gimmestad. “I’m going to have to step up, maybe help them out like Cornick helped me. … They’re all big guys. They have good feet. They are strong and physical.”

Jerve is listed at 6-foot-4, 309 pounds – Pomerenke is listed at 6-5, 310 pounds; and Haeg is listed at 6-5, 280 pounds. Jerve entered fall camp at the top of the depth chart at right tackle.

Redshirt freshman Josh Colville (6-1, 279) has had a solid start to fall camp at left guard. Anthony LaVoy (6-4, 296) – who was listed as the starter at left guard coming into fall camp – is out with a thumb injury. Austin Richard, a three-year starter, started at left guard last fall.

“That’s a critical portion of our football team,” Bison head coach Craig Bohl said. “Many times they’re the guys who don’t get a lot of notoriety.”

Junior quarterback Brock Jensen, who has 22 career starts, likes what he’s seen from the offensive line this fall.

“I think our front five has been pretty solid,” Jensen said. “There have been a lot of guys rotating in and we’ve taken a ton or reps out here every day and those guys have been grinding. … Coach Fuchs is going to find a great five no matter who it is.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com