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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published April 06 2013

Detroit Lakes' Mollberg to be given chance to grow with UND football team

GRAND FORKS – University of North Dakota football head coach Chris Mussman was asked to comment on a handful of crisp, well-thrown passes Saturday by redshirt quarterback Joe Mollberg – the apparent 2013 starter – during the program’s first practice of spring ball at Memorial Stadium.

“He threw a couple into the ground, too,” Mussman said.

Overall, though, Mollberg and the other two redshirt freshmen on UND’s roster – Ryan Bartels and Jake Hanson – all had their moments during UND’s first practice.

Mollberg, a former Detroit Lakes, Minn., standout, is No. 1 on the UND depth chart. He’ll likely be the foundation of a young quarterback corps that will be expected to lead UND during its second season in the Big Sky Conference.

Mussman, though, was impressed with Mollberg’s first day as the No. 1 quarterback.

“But we have to let him grow up and not push him too fast,” Mussman said. “I thought Joe’s huddle presence was very good. A lot of times with a young quarterback, when a call is made, it will come out like a question in the huddle. But Joe’s command was impressive.”

Mollberg spent his redshirt season knowing that he was only two snaps away from playing as seniors Braden Hanson and Marcus Hendrickson split time in racking up UND’s most prolific passing season in program history.

“Taking snaps behind Marcus and Braden all last year really helped me,” Mollberg said. “... The big thing I tried to do over the winter was watch film and learn the game of college football. Everything is faster, bigger.”

Mollberg is bigger and faster than he was last season as well. He’ll enter the 2013 season as a

6-foot-2, 232-pound quarterback – one with a strong arm. He estimates he put on 15 pounds during his redshirt season.

After Saturday’s practice at Memorial Stadium, UND has 13 more spring sessions before fall camp. And UND’s quarterbacks will have the luxury of working with a deep, talented receiving corps – led by first-team all-Big Sky selection Greg Hardin.

“Our quarterbacks here are lucky to have guys like Greg, Kenny (Golladay) and Jameer (Jackson),” Mollberg said. “We also got a transfer in J.J. Robertson. And the leadership of Blair Townsend is incredible.

“I’d go against anyone in the nation with our wide receiver corps.”

Nelson is the sports editor of the Grand Forks Herald