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Eric Peterson, Published August 15 2013

Two Bison battle for starting CB

Fargo - North Dakota State head football coach Craig Bohl said two players are emerging as the front runners to start opposite All-American cornerback Marcus Williams.

“We’ve got a pretty intense battle going on between C.J. Smith and Jordan Champion,” Bohl said. “Both of them are showing signs.”

Both Champion and Smith are sophomore cornerbacks. They are trying to the win the spot that Andre Martin held last season. It is the lone spot on defense where NDSU doesn’t return significant starting experience.

Junior Zach Colvin is also in the mix at that cornerback spot, but Champion and Smith are in the lead at this point.

“Colvin is doing some good things, but I think those other two guys are a little bit ahead,” Bohl said.

Bohl said the defense is developing depth at linebacker with junior Esley Thorton and senior Antonio Rodgers playing well behind the starters. True freshman linebacker Nick DeLuca continues to impress and could vie for a spot on the depth chart.

“We’re taking a hard look at Nick right now,” Bohl said.

Bohl said a decision hasn’t been made on whether to pull the redshirt off DeLuca.

“I think our concentration is good, particularly in our upper units,” Bohl added. “I think we are much further along than we have been.”