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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 05 2012

Bison kicker Keller will have to wait for chance to play closer to home

FARGO – The revamped schedule in the Missouri Valley Football Conference did not do the Keller family from central Pennsylvania many favors. For the second straight year, the school closest to them – Youngstown State – will travel to North Dakota State.

It means they’ll have to wait another year for Bison kicker Adam Keller to play a few hours from home.

“They were a little bit upset about that,” Keller said. “But I still have family coming out to this game so that will be nice.”

The conference schedule was adjusted when the University of South Dakota joined this season. Youngstown came to Fargo last year, but to adequately get teams four home and four away games in the league, something had to give. The Penguins are the only team on the NDSU schedule that will not alternate home and away in successive years.

Keller’s parents live in Dover, Pa., but he has family members from the Pittsburgh area, about a one-hour drive from Youngstown. Adam Keller did not get recruited by Youngstown, but he said the talent in the area of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio is plentiful. He knows of one player on the Youngstown roster.

“Growing up, I was always told Pennsylvania and Ohio football was great football,” Keller said. “And it is great football out there and I would expect nothing but great football coming in here to Fargo.”

Keller is having a breakout season after two seasons of inactivity, one as a redshirt and the other as a backup to Ryan Jastram. He’s 8 of 11 on field goals with a long of 43 yards and has hit all 21 of his extra-point attempts. He leads the team in scoring with 45 points.

For his efforts, Keller was one of 31 kickers recognized by the Fred Mitchell Award for his performance on the field and in the community for the month of September. Keller is also averaging 62 yards on 30 kickoffs. He has been a coach for the Tri-City Soccer seventh-grade boys team, a Rosewood on Broadway Nursing Home volunteer and worked with children at TNT Gymnastics.

Of the 31 kickers honored, nine from the Football Championship Subdivision were represented while nine from Division II, 10 from Division III, two from NAIA and one from junior college also made the list. The recipient of the Fred Mitchell Award will be announced in mid-December.

Crockett set for first start at running back

The one-game suspension to NDSU starting running back Sam Ojuri as part of the petition fraud case means sophomore John Crockett is scheduled to get his first collegiate start. Crockett led the Bison with 122 yards rushing and two touchdowns last week against Northern Iowa.

“He’s a dynamic player,” said NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen. “He’s a physical runner and he’s getting better every practice and every game. He’s a special player.”

Derrick Lang will be the backup, although the Bison are not expected to alternate he and Crocket like they would Ojuri and Crockett.

“Losing Sam is never a good thing but weren’t going to be able to fight through that,” Jensen said.

Bison tight end Bruhn nominated for athlete-scholar award

NDSU tight end Garrett Bruhn was named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the country.

The senior is one of 147 candidates, which has a minimum criteria of a grade-point average of at least 3.2, ability and contributions on the field and demonstrate a history of leadership and citizenship. Bruhn carries a 3.3 GPA in criminal justice with a minor in accounting.

A team captain this season, he had 11 receptions last year and helped open holes for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. The NFF awards committee will select 16 recipients who each will receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.

Etc. etc. etc.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference game of the week means a different crew in the booth for the North Dakota NBC Network. Tom Ackerman will do the play-by-play, Adam Seidel the analysis and Jim Powers sideline reports. … NDSU is eighth in the FCS in attendance with an average of 18,696 fans. Appalachian State is tops at 27,537. … Jensen needs 454 yards to catch Kevin Feeney for No. 2 on the all-time NDSU passing yards list at 4,769. … Youngstown is 6-2 in its last eight games following a bye week.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia