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Sioux Depth at Nose Guard May be Best in a Number of Seasons
In UND’s 3-4 defensive alignment, linebackers usually make the headline-grabbing tackles — the stops that change the course of a game and remain topics of conversation until the next contest.
Sioux nose guards, meanwhile, toil in anonymity — mixing it up against opposing offensive linemen for four quarters with little recognition.
When UND opens its 2009 season — the second as a Division I program — nose guards may have a little more notoriety for two reasons.
One, their last names all start with the letter B.
Two, this may be the deepest, biggest, most talented and strongest group of Sioux nose guards in recent years.
“They could be the ‘Killer B’s,’ ” UND co-defensive coordinator Mike Mannausau said.
Ty Boyle, Broc Bellmore and Devin Benjamin all should be in the mix for playing time in the middle of UND’s defensive line when the season begins Sept. 5 at Texas Tech.
Their roles will remain the same in UND’s defensive scheme. They’ll be on the field to take on double teams, allowing linebackers to make the big tackle.
“If you’re a nose guard, you like that challenge, to get double-teamed on every play,” Boyle said. “We’re supposed to take on the blocks for the linebackers. That hasn’t changed at all.”
A look at the three reveals that UND’s nose guards will be young but big.
n Boyle, who likely will enter the season No. 1 on the depth chart, is the most experienced. The junior from International Falls, Minn., recorded 21 tackles last season, seven for lost yardage. He’ll begin the season around 290 pounds.
n Bellmore, a 285-pound sophomore from West Fargo, N.D., came up with nine stops last season but made some news during the offseason by breaking one of UND’s all-time strength records. His power clean of 383 pounds is the best since UND began recording strength and conditioning records in 1990.
n Benjamin, a redshirt freshman, will enter fall camp as the biggest of the three. The former Minneapolis De La Salle standout will give the Sioux a 300-pound presence.
“We probably haven’t had this much quality and depth at nose guard since the 2004 season,” Mannausau said. “That’s when we had Shane Duchscher, Adam Wolff and Ross Brennan.
“Ty, Broc and Devin are big, strong, physical players, the kind we want at nose guard. All three work hard. They’re very coachable and they do a good job of teaching themselves.”
As UND enters its final two weeks of spring football, Benjamin will benefit the most from the remaining practices.
Last season, Benjamin was on the scout team.
“I’m learning a lot more and everything is starting to come together,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin’s first lesson on UND likely came while he was at De La Salle. The school’s athletic director is former Sioux women’s basketball standout Darcy Cascaes.
“She gave me a little background on the school,” Benjamin said. “Obviously, she was pulling for me to go here.”
Now the nose guards are pulling for each other, hoping the group will be a mainstay of the defense for the next two years.
“Broc and I are the young guys,” Benjamin said. “And Broc definitely is the strongest guy on the team. But I can handle my own, too. And we have some speed.”
But the Sioux will face a lot of speed in their opener at Texas Tech.
Benjamin can’t wait.
“My first D-I game will be at Tech and that will be a little nerve-wracking,” Benjamin said. “But I like playing against guys that are bigger than me. And there aren’t any guys bigger than me on this team.”
Riding under the radar no longer
By Wayne Nelson, The Grand Forks Herald