14 To Watch In 2014: #09 – Adam Keller

Join WDAY sports director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack as they preview 14 NDSU football players to watch as we head into the 2014-2015 season.


14 To Watch In 2014: #10 – Joe Haeg

Join WDAY sports director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack as they preview 14 NDSU football players to watch as we head into the 2014-2015 season.


14 To Watch In 2014: #11 – Travis Beck

Join WDAY sports director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack as they preview 14 NDSU football players to watch as we head into the 2014-2015 season.


14 To Watch In 2014: #12 – CJ Smith

Join WDAY sports director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack as they preview 14 NDSU football players to watch as we head into the 2014-2015 season.


14 To Watch In 2014: #13 – Andrew Bonnet

Join WDAY sports director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack as they preview 14 NDSU football players to watch as we head into the 2014-2015 season.


14 To Watch In 2014: #14 – Nate Tanguay

Join WDAY sports director Dom Izzo and The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack as they preview 14 NDSU football players to watch as we head into the 2014-2015 season.


Ben Ellefson

NDSU landed one of its top targets for the Class of 2015 on Friday in Hawley tight end Ben Ellefson. Ellefson is huge, 6’4, 225 pounds, he’s been a constant on our First Down Friday highlight shows over the last two falls. Ellefson got plenty of attention starting this time last year when he was named MVP of NDSU’s Junior Camp. He also had some major offers as well; Wyoming, Air Force and New Mexico all had offered from the Mountain West, along with SDSU and Fordham out of the FCS. Ellefson told me it was down to Wyoming and NDSU, but the proximity to home was one of the biggest factors that decided things for him.

Hawley head coach Peder Naatz shared an interesting story with me on Ellefson’s recruiting process on Dizzo’s Den on Friday night; he said that former offensive coordinator Brent Vigen would routinely come to Hawley games for the last 15 years; just to see if there was any talent worth looking at and he told Naatz, “he didn’t want to just show up with some flashy clothes and be a big shot, because there was a big-time recruit”, that philosophy impressed not only the Hawley staff but the Ellefson family, Craig Bohl and company had put in their homework on this guy, so it says a lot that Ellefson chose NDSU over the Cowboys. You can listen to my interview with Ben below, also some video highlights accompany it as well. Ellefson becomes the 3rd verbal for the Class of 2015; joining Jake Brinkman from Iowa and Derek Tuszka from Warner, South Dakota.



 

Why TrayVonn has a chance to make it in pro ball

TrayVonn Wright and his forte

Former Bison forward TrayVonn Wright signed a contract this week with Wels of the Austria Basketball League. It’s the same league that former Bison guard Mike Nelson played in after Nelson finished his NDSU career in 2009.

Nelson said Wright has a chance to make something of it because he plays a different position. The 6-foot-4 Nelson was a shooting guard and in the ABL, “they’re a dime a dozen,” Nelson said. “With him, they love athletic wings that can run the floor and in his case shoot the ball. It’s tip-dunk galore.”

A few other reasons why I give TrayVonn the benefit of the doubt in making it overseas:

  • Tray didn’t have much growing up and has had to pretty much scratch and claw for everything he’s gotten. There are those who say one of the reasons he had so much trouble putting on weight is nutrition wasn’t of real quality when he was in high school, and that includes going back to Waterloo in the summer during college. Although from a loving home, there wasn’t much for finances. So the kid has mental toughness.
  • He’s 6-7 who was a former high jump champ in high school. We’ve all seen what he can do with a dunk. Nelson said that in itself will make him a fan favorite in Austria.
  • If you can thrive in Fargo in December and January, you can live anywhere.
  • Wright will have to learn to play against players older and stronger. He’s up to around 200 pounds, but even at lesser weight, he was always one of the team’s top rebounders. That will continue to have to progress.

 

Decisions And Dates

The NCAA made a couple of decisions early this week under the radar that could have a major impact on the FCS. First up the Sports Management Cabinet approved a change to the Simple Ratings System (for those that forgot, that’s the FCS version of the BCS rankings, that the playoff committee takes into account for seeding and selecting playoff teams, it also had Eastern Illinois ranked ahead of NDSU in its final rankings last year) by standardizing the amount of games teams play in making a decision on how to rank teams. Last year the committee did not standardize if teams played 11 or 12 games, so we could see this being a large factor come later in the season, depending on how tough your schedule is and who you play and when you play them.

There was a second change put forth by the football committee to the SRS, and that was margin of victory. The committee proposed capping margin of victory formula to be capped at 21 points to discourage teams from running up the score to improve their position in the rankings, but that was not approved.

Lastly, the committee approved raising the minimum money guarantee for schools to host 2nd round, quarterfinal and semifinal games in the FCS playoffs. They raised it to 40 K for the 2nd, 50 K for the quarters and 60 K for the semis.

It will now cost schools more money to host FCS 2nd round, quarterfinal and semifinal games.

This could potentially be a huge deal for teams that don’t draw like NDSU or UNI that want to host a playoff game in the early rounds, you could see teams with better records possibly playing on the road in the early rounds because they can’t afford to lose money by hosting. Schools that only average 5K for home games very well could have been priced out by this decision. Gene Taylor and NDSU went way over the minimum the last time the Bison were unseeded heading into the FCS playoffs in 2010, getting them a first home game at the Fargodome against Robert Morris. I think it’s something that bears watching as we get closer to Selection Sunday in November.

Finally we’re starting to piece together the basketball schedules for the men and women’s teams for this upcoming winter at Scheels Arena and the BBF, got a few dates to put out there, the full conference schedule will be revealed by the Summit League on Monday and Wednesday:

MEN - 11/5 – Minot State; 11/21 + 11/22 – 2 K Classic Home Games; 11/25 – UM Crookston; 11/30 – at Montana State; 12/13 – North Dakota; 12/16 – Akron (payback of Bracketbuster); 12/21- Kent State (El Paso); 12/22 – Alcorn State/UTEP;  12/28  - Northland College (D3 Wisconsin school); 1/2 – Oral Roberts (doubleheader); 1/4 – SDSU (doubleheader); 1/16 – Western Illinois, 1/29 – Denver; 2/5 – Denver; 2/7 – USD; 2/19 – IUPUI, 2/21 – Fort Wayne

WOMEN  - 11/7 – Bemidji State; 11/14 – Kent State; 11/16 – Milwaukee; 12/6 – UND(Scheels Arena); 12/8 – Mayville State; 1/2 – ORU (Scheels); 1/4 – SDSU (Scheels); 1/8 – IUPUI; 1/17 – Fort Wayne; 2/6 – Western Illinois; 2/8 – USD; 2/14 – Omaha; 2/26 – Denver

There’s one change from what I reported earlier; the UND games are no longer a doubleheader at Scheels Arena, the women playing on December 6th, the men’s game on December 13th. The men’s non-conference still has a couple of headline games to fill, including at Southern Mississippi; women going to Mississippi State as well. We’ll keep you updated.

 

The Return

The summer vacation was needed and brief and now the countdown to the start of a new football season can really begin. We’re still trying to get as much info as we can on the search for a new athletic director at NDSU, but not much is coming out now. Gene Taylor is here in Fargo until the end of July, and the goal all along that Dean Bresciani had was to have a new AD in place by the time the new athletic year begins, which is the middle to end of August; we’ll keep you updated.

Last week, the Sports Network unveiled its preseason All-Americans for 2014, NDSU did not get a player on the first team, while Colten Heagle made 2nd team with Carlton Littlejohn and Christian Dudzik were selected to the 3rd team. I know these lists are put out at this time of year just to make for debate, so I’ll indulge for a second, how in the world Kyle Emanuel and Zach Vraa were left off any of these teams is a mystery to me.

Kyle Emanuel was left off Sports Network’s Preseason All-American Lists, despite 47 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2013.


Emanuel’s stats were terrific, 47 tackles, 10 for loss, racking up 7.5 sacks, he’s been a defensive force since his redshirt freshman season (look up 2011 game vs UNI). Vraa had a record setting season for the Bison last year, 67 receptions, 1,191 yards and 15 TDs, he became a threat that required double-teams thru the 2nd half of the season and will command that again at the start of this season. We’ll see how the rankings stand at the end of the year.

If you need a football fix, this Sunday is the North Dakota Shrine Bowl at the Fargodome, WDAY will be televising the game for the first time, you can watch LIVE on our alternate channel 6-3 or 8-3 in Grand Forks, or you can watch online at WDAY.com. All six of NDSU’s incoming freshmen are playing in this game (Eric Bachmeier, Stanley Jones, Levi Jordheim, Levi Hoiby, Tanner Volson and Luke Bacon) for many this will be your first look at these guys before they arrive at camp in early August.

One last note, since our Top 10 moments was such a hit, we have another video segment starting next week that I think people will really enjoy before the start of football season, but I don’t need to remind everyone to check the blog out daily for that. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer, we are 54 days away from the start of the season, Iowa State will be debuting a new look helmet for NDSU and Fox Sports 1 on August 30th: