UND Backfield Ready to Lead Fighting Hawks in 2017

Oliveira, Santiago, and Johannesson to split carries for North Dakota.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — When you think of the best backfields in the FCS, it is hard to not have UND’s in the conversation. Both John Santiago and Brady Oliviera were named to the Big Sky preseason All-Conference team.

“We want to run the football,” Head Coach Bubba Schweigert said.

That is something that the offensive line knows very well.

“We stress to get the backs in space,” Junior Offensive Lineman Demon Taylor stated.

North Dakota made its first FCS playoff appearance in school history last season carried by the running game of John Santiago and Brady Oliveira.

“I’ll say it, I’m confident to say that John and I are the best running back duo in the country,” Running Back Brady Oliveira said. “I’m not scared to say that. I think we prove it. You can look at our numbers.”

Santiago and Oliveira combined for 17 touchdowns on the ground and both came up just shy of the 1,000 yard mark. Something that the Fighting Hawks know is unique to the FCS.

“Most teams in the country you can look at, they usually only use one running back,” Oliveira stated. “That is wear-and-tear on your body. I’m glad I have another running back to play with because whenever I go in, I’m going to be fresh and I’ll have fresh legs.”

Quarterback Keaton Studsrud knows how much talent the team has in the backfield.

“You know they got two years experience now,” Studsrud said. “The first year you kind of have to help them out a little bit with the in’s and out’s of the offense, but now they know what to expect.”

“We just gotta look at our backfield and hope it gets better than it was a year ago,” Schweigert said.

As they say the rich get richer. This off season former Golden Gopher and Fargo South alum James Johannesson joins the dynamic duo.

“Running back depth is huge on our team,” Oliveira said. “Anyone can go in and put up some yards and do the right job.”

“We think we have enough carries for three guys,” Schweigert said. “They’re all going to get their opportunity. We have a little bit more flexibility. We think they are really top quality guys. We just gotta learn how to use them as best we can.”

With a three headed monster in the backfield in Grand Forks, expectations for the Fighting Hawks continue to soar.

“I’m very excited,” Taylor stated. “We got a lot of hype obviously but we’re ready.”

“Expecations are always high. I feel like that is good,” Oliveira said. “You should always have high expectations because that will only better yourself as a individual player.”

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