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Jeff Kolpack, Published August 16 2012

Ollman provides versatility in a pinch for Bison football team

FARGO – There is strength. And then there is what North Dakota State head football coach Craig Bohl calls “old man strength.”

That’s what Bobby Ollman has, Bohl said, and he’s going to need it when the Bison strong safety moonlights at another position this season: outside linebacker.

He’s in his fourth year of college, but Ollman is an old man of sorts. There are just seven seniors on a Bison team that was picked to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference and perhaps give the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs another shot.

Moreover, Ollman is being asked to help out at outside linebacker because of suspensions, injuries or youth. He’s 201 pounds at a spot that is normally reserved for heavier players.

“As long as you play hard, play fast and play low,” Ollman said. “Coming from strong safety, I’m used to being in the box a lot. Now I’m just closer to the line if I’m playing (linebacker).”

A 201-pound outside linebacker is not for a freshman or even a sophomore. Intelligence can make up for a lot of things, Bohl said, and in the case of Ollman, “an edge guy can do a little bit of both.”

Plus, it’s a chance for him to get on the field more. A backup to junior Colten Heagle last year, he made some key plays when Heagle was hurt.

Ollman started three games, recovering one fumble and intercepting a pass – an 82-yard return for a touchdown that was a big play in NDSU’s 20-10 win over Illinois State.

It was his introduction into being a regular in the Bison lineup – one that is still crowded, especially with the safeties and cornerbacks.

“We have a lot of d-backs right now and we’re trying to find ways to get our defensive backs on the field this year,” Ollman said.

Grant Olson, Carlton Littlejohn and Travis Beck are the established three linebackers. DeShawn Dinwiddie, Joey Sonnenfeld, Nick Scoliere and Alex LaVoy are returning players behind them with Sonnenfeld a converted strong safety.

The differences between strong safety and outside linebacker are more technical in nature. Plus by now, Ollman said, he knows the playbook 100 percent as well as the ins and outs of other defensive positions.

“When you’re younger, you’re waiting for your number to be called,” he said. “Now it’s just more realistic that your number will be called.”

Said Bohl: “He’s a smart player that can do both.”

With old man strength, Ollman can do that.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.


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