Jeff Kolpack, Published January 24 2013
NDSU looking to re-stock LB corpsFARGO – With the attrition of three underclassmen linebackers in the last two years – players who were being counted on to contribute – North Dakota State football coaches appear to be addressing the need to replace them.
The Bison got a verbal commitment Wednesday night from linebacker Matt Plank of Gardner-Edgerton High School (Kan.). The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was a first team all-state selection by Kansas-Sports.com in Class 6A, the state’s largest class. He was a 5A first-team pick as a junior.
Plank – who visited Kansas and Kansas State last year, but did not receive an offer – had 104 tackles with 66 being solo. As a junior, he had 127 tackles.
Earlier this week, NDSU got a commitment from inside linebacker Nick DeLuca from Omaha, Neb., who is ranked the fourth-best overall player in Nebraska by Schuman’s National Underclassmen.
Last week, outside LB James Gates of Menomonie, Wis., committed, a player that was rated the No. 1 linebacker in the state by Wisconsin Sports Net, a list that was last updated earlier this month.
Before the season, NDSU got a verbal from linebacker Alex Hahn of Oak Creek, Wis.
It appears at least one of those true freshman linebackers next year will get a shot at playing right away. And Marvin Diener, the head coach at Gardner-Edgerton, said Plank may have a chance.
“We’ll see what happens there,” Diener said. “I believe this: Matt will look in place the day he steps on the field in August. It’s not like he’s going to look like a pup out there. But you’re talking about a very good program in a very good conference.”
In the past two years, the Bison lost backups Don Carter and DeShawn Dinwiddie, both of whom played as true freshmen, and promising recruit Jacob Davis. Backup Logan Hushka had to give up the game because of injury problems.
So depth became a problem with starters Grant Olson, Travis Beck and Carlton Littlejohn logging almost all of the meaningful snaps last season.
“We’re excited about getting somebody up there in the Missouri Valley,” Diener said. “They recruited an awfully good linebacker.”
Signing day for football is Feb. 6.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.