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NDSU football: Bison find their back
FARGO — North Dakota State running back D.J. McNorton had two carries Saturday in his team’s intrasquad scrimmage at the Fargodome. One went for 60 yards and the other for 19.
He’ll be busier this fall.
McNorton has emerged as the starter halfway through spring football and will get the first crack in August to replace Pat Paschall. Now a junior, he has sliced two-tenths of a second off his 40-yard dash time to the 4.5 range since he’s been at NDSU.
“I know for sure that I’ll run hard and give it my all every play,” McNorton said. “I’ve played football a long time and I’m ready.”
McNorton has always been a shifty runner since the day he arrived at NDSU from Channelview, Texas. He put on an extra gear on his long run, taking a draw play that also showed his maturity. He sidestepped one defender — a testament to patience — and then took the play to his right and found the opening.
“He’s the most complete guy,” said offensive coordinator Brent Vigen. “And he’s taken steps in improving his speed. He’s not just quickness anymore. He has good speed.”
McNorton was in a battle with sophomore Sam Ojuri and junior Matt Voigtlander for the top job. Voigtlander is being held out of contact this spring after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery and is expected to be full strength this fall.
Freshman Mike Sigers also had explosive moments and is expected to be used in a different role other than an every-down back. Sigers had an impressive debut last season against Iowa State, but a foot injury eventually sidelined him. He’s expected to get a medical hardship.
“He showed the speed and explosion that he had against Iowa State,” coach Craig Bohl said.
Bohl said the coaching staff purposely limited McNorton’s carries on Saturday. In addition to his running ability, he’s also adept at pass blocking.
What’s the next step for him?
“I’m getting better at learning defenses and fronts and I think that will help me in the future in seeing who the unblocked person is,” McNorton said.
By Jeff Kolpack