NDSU’s Sproles’ Patience Paid Off Catching First Touchdown in Two Seasons
Senior caught first TD since 2019; the game-tying score against Missouri State
FARGO, N.D — Two years since North Dakota State receiver Phoenix Sproles made reservations for six in the end zone. It all finally changed last weekend catching the game-tying touchdown against Missouri State off a play called Alabama y. It was certainly a moment that needed some time to take in, so much so, Sproles laid out on the field before celebrating.
“Just finally getting in there was a sigh of relief,” Sproles said. “I was really happy with the play call from coach Roehl. The execution of it from the big O. It fell into play right there when we needed it the most.”
“He’s such a competitive and wants to be involved in everything type of individual that there was probably some frustration at times,” head coach Matt Entz said. “He’s starting to get the ball a little bit more. Having some big plays with a couple catches against Towson and Illinois State but to finally get back in the end zone, I couldn’t be happier for a young man like him.”
Coming off a season-ending knee injury in 2020 and then a hamstring injury in fall camp limiting him to no receptions in three of the first four games, Sproles found motivation in other teammates successes to get him through.
“Seeing Christian (Watson), Braylon (Henderson), other receivers get in the end zone. I was like ok, this might not be my time but I know it’ll come even if it’s not right now,: Sproles said. “I just need to keep being patient and practicing hard. Good things will happen.”
“He goes back and just keeps working. I think that something you see with a lot of our leadership and veterans on our team,” Entz said. “One of the things I continue to preach is if you don’t like your circumstances then work harder. Get it after it a little more. Change the narrative if you don’t like.”
Having that mindset of staying the course and working hard came from those who came before him.
“Learning from the older guys. When I was a freshman, Easton (Stick) and Shep (Darrius Shepherd). I think Shep had a season where he didn’t score until the playoffs or the game before the playoffs so he went a whole season without getting one. It’s all about patience.”
Now the doors are open for Sproles to build on that touchdown going forward. Over the last two games, the senior has tied season-highs in receptions and receiving yards.
“Once you get that first one, it’s like ok, I need to do it again,” Sproles said. It felt good. Why not again? It’s just going to make me want to get in the end zone more and more and others will too so it’s all about making those plays.”
After the game, Sproles and his best friend, NFL quarterback Trey Lance, facetimed and shared the moment together.