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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 09 2012

Bison interception return within grasp for Williams

Fargo - Now in his ninth year of being retired, Steve Krumrie will occasionally be watching a college football game on television when a player makes an interception. And even rarer than that, he’ll think back to his playing days.

What a time it was.

From 1967-69, he set a North Dakota State record for most career interceptions with 16, a mark that still stands to this day. It’s the oldest individual defensive record in the book, and this week, Krumrie quickly came to grips that the mark is fading fast.

When told junior Marcus Williams has 15, he repeated this question:

“Did you say he’s a junior?” Krumrie said. “I think ‘she’s’ in trouble. That record will be done. That’s good.”

A few minutes later, unprompted, Krumrie went back to Williams’ age.

“He’s a junior?” he said again. “Maybe he can break it in a game I remember myself.”

For Krumrie, that was a two-interception game against South Dakota State – the same team NDSU plays this afternoon, with the winner clinching a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference championship. Krumrie said he took one of those back for a touchdown against the Jackrabbits.

He remembers a couple of interceptions against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He’s 64 years old living in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. He still officiates basketball and girls softball, but most of the time, he can be found on the golf course.

He’s probably pretty good at all three activities. Krumrie was an all-around athlete who had a .351 career batting average on the Bison baseball team and played a couple of years on the NDSU basketball team.

So in the world of Bison career interception leaders, the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. There are not many athletes in Division I Football Championship Subdivision that can do the things Marcus Williams can.

About the only thing that kept him from a major college basketball scholarship was the lack of an outside shot. An Atlantic Coast Conference basketball coach told Bison head coach Craig Bohl that if Williams could shoot, he would sign him immediately because he can guard as well as anybody in the country.

So, Bohl thought, if he can guard basketball players in the ACC, he probably can defend receivers in the FCS. Bohl was right – and then some. He’s on the “Watch List” for the Buck Buchanan Award that goes to the best defensive player in the FCS.

“He has a knack for the ball. That’s just the type of player he is,” said Bison cornerback Andre Martin. “It’s in his DNA to go get the ball.”

It’s probably not a coincidence that the top two interception leaders in program history both played on national championship teams. Krumrie was a defensive leader on the 1968 and 1969 national championship teams.

“That was a long time ago, but records are meant to be broken, and I’m sure if I do break it, it will be broken some other time,” Williams said.

He had four interceptions as a freshman, seven last season and has four heading into today. The problem is his prowess for picking passes off has teams throwing opposite of him.

“I prepare myself immensely knowing that some games I probably will not get the ball thrown to me,” Williams said. “I have to go in there play in and play out and make sure my man doesn’t catch the ball. If I’m in coverage and I cover my man so the defense can get a sack, that’s better for the team.”

Williams was always assigned the other team’s best receiver last year, although that’s been tempered this year with the emergence of Martin. Both are part of a defense that leads the FCS in scoring defense and total defense.

Last year, the Bison gave up 12.7 points per game. So far this year, they’re surrendering just 10.3. In 1968, Krumrie’s Bison gave up 10.6 points per game and in 1969 it was just 10.4.

“We had some good athletes and great coaching,” Krumrie said. “One thing that has really changed since I played is the size of all the kids. My senior year, I might have been the biggest defensive back and I was 5-9, 185 pounds.”

He then asked about Williams’ size and speed. He wanted to know about the kid who was about to break his record.

It has stood for 43 years, and that’s a good run for any school mark.

“It’s something you don’t think much about,” Krumrie said. “I did think it was a pretty good deal having a record at the time. It’s tough to do.”

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