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Published December 11 2012

Schnepf: Spuds’ Morlock goes with NDSU

MOORHEAD - If you are a North Dakota State football fan – and there seem to be plenty of them these days – you will always remember Tyler Roehl outracing Minnesota Gophers defenders to the end zone in the Metrodome five years ago.

The big, bruising running back became somewhat of a legend during NDSU’s move to NCAA Division I.

Bison fans, meet the guy who could become the next Tyler Roehl.

His name is Chase Morlock – the big, bruising running back from Moorhead High School, who verbally committed Monday to play football for the Bison.

The similarities between Morlock and Roehl seem endless.

Both were somewhat men playing among boys in high school football – punishing tacklers as running backs and pounding running backs as linebackers.

Roehl came to NDSU from West Fargo ready to do anything he was asked to get some playing time. After serving as a blocking fullback his first two years, the 5-foot-10, 230-pound Roehl used his 4.5-second 40-yard dash speed to become a standout running back.

“I wanted to carry the ball,” said Roehl, who is an assistant football coach for the Spuds.

So does Morlock. The 6-foot, 200-pounder used his 4.7-second 40 speed to rush for 1,820 yards – averaging 11.8 yards per carry. He was a two-way starter for three years and a top 10 finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Football.

“However I can get on the field the fastest, I’m ready to do it,” said Morlock, who many think could step in and become a contributing linebacker right away.

Like Roehl, Morlock – who maintains a 3.94 grade-point average – is a student of the game. Like Roehl, Morlock spends countless hours in the weight room.

“Coach Kramer is going to love him because he is a weight room junkie,” Moorhead head coach Kevin Feeney said, referring to Bison strength coach Jim Kramer.

Like Roehl, Morlock can not only run, but he can block.

“He’s real strong with his hands which I think comes from his wrestling,” Roehl said of Morlock, who is also a state championship wrestler.

Like Roehl, Morlock is extremely competitive, a trait Feeney tried to convey to college coaches.

“That’s the one thing that really sets him apart,” said Feeney, who this past season sat Morlock in a late-season game that had no playoff implications. “He wanted to play so badly, I thought he was going to punch me in the face.”

Morlock had narrowed his choice between NDSU and rival South Dakota State – where he visited last month during the Jackrabbits game against rival South Dakota. He says he’ll get a chance to attend Friday night’s semifinal game at the Fargodome.

“I want to be a part of that,” Morlock said. “I want to be a part of a national championship. I just see myself as a Bison.”

Just like Feeney, who was a standout quarterback at NDSU in the 1990s. And just like Roehl, who is already envisioning Morlock playing on Gate City Bank Field.

“I don’t think a ton of people on the North Dakota side of the river got a chance to see what he could do,” Roehl said.

Morlock also becomes NDSU’s first scholarship player from Moorhead since 1992, when offensive lineman Lance Larson transferred from Nebraska.

“You do have your Bison fans in Moorhead, but many aren’t diehard fans,” Feeney said. “Chase is the kind of player who could make this community fall in love with Bison football.”

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or kschnepf@forumcomm.com