NDSU football is building youthful depth at linebacker – InForum

FARGO – This is a critical fall camp for the NDSU defense. With veteran starters Jackson Hankey graduating and Jasir Cox moving to West Virginia, there are two holes to fill at linebacker.

While two key players may be missing this season, NDSU’s linebacking corps still has depth. Young depth.

“We’ve got a good group here, haven’t we,” Bison linebackers coach Grant Olson said. “They’re unproven, yes as far as the fans are concerned, but they’ve been proven in training.”

The only fifth-year veteran is James Kaczor. He played in nine of fifteen games collecting 15 tackles and a sack for the Bison, but suffered a hamstring injury throughout the season.

“When James is there you can just tell there’s a difference with even more confidence, a lot more speed. He really shines,” Olson said. “I think his biggest challenge will be letting the game come to him.”

Junior, Cole Wisniewski had an explosive 2021 season. At the moment, the junior is focusing on his return to the field after injuring his Achilles tendon this winter.

“I’m doing great, I’m sure if you saw me in training I ran and that run is accelerated fast,” Wisnewski said. “It started just a few weeks ago and I’m already up to pretty good speed here.”

Junior Nick Kubitz, a special teams threat, is battling for the starting spot at center linebacker. As well as junior red jersey Luke Weerts, who missed the majority of last season due to a serious back injury.

“It’s a great competition between me and Nick,” Weertz said. “I embrace competition and I know he does. We both improved.”

With the first game of the season fast approaching, the competition will heat up at fall camp.

“It’s too close for us to make a call right now,” NDSU fotbbal head coach Matt Entz said. “Being able to process information and get the right information communicated is key.”

Julian Wlodarcyzk, a senior, was traded from safety to linebacker this offseason. The NDSU coaching staff believe the 6’3, 207-pound player is a better fit.

Also getting into the mix are redshirt freshman Logan Kopp and sophomore Oscar Benson.

“Oscar Benson is really accelerating at a fast level,” Olson said. “Logan Kopp is accelerating at a fast level as well. So these guys from next year that a lot of Bison fans might not know the name of are playing great,” the linebackers coach added.

With three weeks to go, Matt Entz will have a lot of decisions to make as the Bisons chase their tenth national championship.

To date, Cole Wisnewski is the only player scheduled to miss NDSU’s season opener against Drake on Sept. 3.

Jennifer C. Burleigh