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Jeff Kolpack, Published April 12 2013

Dunn works for bigger role with Bison football team

FARGO – Dan and Pauline Dunn have had North Dakota State season tickets since the Fargodome opened in 1993. The last two seasons have carried double meaning.

They are more than just fans. They are parents.

Their son, sophomore Dylan Dunn, walked on to the team in 2011 and has made the day-to-day grind of college football pay off to the point where he made the travel squad last season and is getting some valuable repetitions after two weeks of spring football.

“Proud. That’s the biggest thing,” Dan said. “I’m so proud of what he’s been able to accomplish in terms of the opportunity to play at NDSU. Just the sacrifice that all the players do because it’s almost a full-time job.”

It’s a job that has paid off in the form of a lot of victories. And titles. Dylan has been a part of four straight championships starting with North Dakota Class 2A state titles with Fargo Shanley in 2009 and 2010 and the last two Division I Football Championship Subdivision national titles with NDSU.

“That is incredible,” Dan said. “I tease him all the time. Not many people have been on two state championship teams and two national title teams. It’s quite an honor, and I think it’s related to the programs he’s been in. Shanley has a terrific program, and NDSU has a terrific program.”

This spring, Dylan is in the process of switching from wide receiver to tight end, where he’ll be battling for more than about the 30 plays he saw in NDSU’s season last year. The Bison at times use a two-tight end set, and Dunn’s experience as a receiver can only be beneficial to an offense that is not afraid to throw to that position.

At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he said he still needs to gain about 10 to 15 pounds before next fall, but so far, the move has been a good one.

“I feel like tight end is probably a better position for me once I gain some more weight and learn the whole playbook,” Dunn said. “I feel like it’s a better fit for me.”

He played tight end occasionally at Shanley, where Dan helped coach under head coach Steve Laqua. It was Laqua’s program, Dylan said, that convinced him he could give it a shot at NDSU.

Laqua, the head coach at Minnesota State Moorhead, is a former Bison assistant who brought a college mentality to the Deacons’ program, both Dan and Dylan said.

“From Dylan’s perspective, when he walked on campus for the first time, he knew exactly what was going on,” Dan said. “There wasn’t as much of a transition.”

The Dragons offered some scholarship money, but the lure of playing for a team that he grew up watching won out. He became part of the Dunn family season ticket package in the mid-1990s. Plus, an honor student in civil engineering, the decision was more than just football.

“My heart was set on NDSU,” Dunn said. “Football was a priority, but school was even a bigger priority, especially with their engineering department.”

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