‘It Never Gets Old:’ NDSU Players React to Another National Title
The Bison collected their seventh title in the last eight seasons.
FRISCO, Texas — The NDSU football team is back in Fargo.
The unit’s seventh FCS national championship trophy is nestled up with the other six. It’s difficult to exceed expectations when the bar is so high at North Dakota State University, but this year’s team still managed to do just that.
“It’s special,” senior safety Rob Grimsley said. “Our goal from the start was to go undefeated, and just to actually succeed and fulfill that goal and go out on top, I can’t even put it into words how excited I am for this team and this program for carrying that on.”
The Bison went 15-0, becoming the first FCS team to finish undefeated since the Herd accomplished it back in 2013.
“The standard at NDSU is to get to this point, and it’s great to be back in Frisco, and you can’t beat it,” senior tight end Nate Jenson said.
“You never get tired of winning,” junior running back Ty Brooks said. “And if you do, you’re not a competitor. And everybody in that locker room is a competitor.”
For guys like Brooks and Greg Menard, who missed last year’s championship game with injuries, the impact of getting back here is difficult to overstate.
“It just felt great,” Brooks said. “Last year I couldn’t play in this game. So, today, to come out and here and have the game that we did as a whole team and individually, it meant everything to me.”
Menard tore his ACL during fall camp in 2017, and recorded 1.5 sacks in this year’s title game.
“Just last year, it was super tough to watch the game,” Menard said. “It was incredibly difficult, but all of my teammates were reassuring that I was going to come back and I was going to be ready for this game and just coming back for it has meant the world to me. These guys have helped me all the way through it, and I love this group of guys so much.”
Sending the senior off on a high note was a point of emphasis for the underclassmen.
“I’m just so happy to lead the seniors out how they did, and also coach Klieman,” sophomore linebacker Jabril Cox said. “Coach Klieman is a great coach, and I wish him nothing but success at K-State.”
“We’re never going to take this for granted, man,” junior cornerback Marquise Bridges said. “It’s all about the journey at the end of the day. This is the last time we get to play with these seniors. It’s always going to feel special every time we get to send them out right.”
The seniors say the feeling lives up.
This is incredible being a senior, the last go-round, finishing off the perfect season, you can’t put that into words,” Menard said. “It’s just incredible knowing how many good teams have been at NDSU before you, being able to keep up that tradition and go out your senior year on top. There’s nothing better.”
And that success lives up to the promises the coaches made when each of these players was recruited.
“They promised their number one goal is winning and it’s always winning and it’s always competing, and that’s the way it will always be here,” Grimsley said. “There’s not a lot of flash. There’s not a lot of flair. It’s just you’re going to come here, and you’re going to win ballgames. That’s what they told me, and that’s what I wanted to do.”
Senior offensive lineman Zack Johnson remembers a similar story.
“I was questioned ‘why do you want to come here and play?’ and ‘is playing in a national championship one of the goals in your mind?’ and I said ‘yes.’ that was a big deciding factor for me,” Johnson said.
“Oh yeah, that is a big reason why I wanted to come here,” senior running back Lance Dunn echoed. “I knew that we win championships here, and I wanted to be a part of that. I was, so I wouldn’t change it for a thing, and I’d do it over if I could.”
Jenson: “Coming to ndsu was the best choice of my life. I lived the best five years of my life, and I’ll remember it forever. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s over now, but we lived it.”