Football

Championship Conversations: Returning Players

The Bison will be loaded again in 2020, we talk with those vital returners in NDSU’s journey for nine.

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Photos By Hillary Ehlen

The Bison will be loaded again in 2020, we talk with those vital returners in NDSU’s journey for nine.

 

#99 Spencer Waege

What will be the one Frisco memory that will forever stick in your head?

The celebration after with my teammates. From storming the field when the clock hits zero to celebrating on the stage and in the locker room after. It’s a feeling that can’t be matched.

To some, this team was seen as the “underdog” given everything that happened before the season. How do you feel the team embraced that “underdog” role. What was the team’s mentality?

Going into every game we always knew the other team was going to give us their best shot. If someone can get a win against the Bison, it’s enough to make their season. It’s their Super Bowl. We also had to deal with hearing how young the team was and how many seniors we lost the year before. So to the team, it felt like it was us against the world.

If you had to define 2019 NDSU football with one word, what would it be?

Perfection

If you had to select one, what was the play of the year in 2019?

Hands down Jimmy Football’s pick to win the national championship. Adam’s [Cofield] run against SDSU is a very close second.

In your estimation, why/how does this program (student-athletes, coaches, administration, etc.) continue to succeed year after year?

The tradition. It will always be about the program and not the individual. Coaches always say you play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.

Where did you see the biggest improvement in your game over the course of 2019?

I’d say it has to be when I got my first start against Missouri State. After that game, I felt I had a new sense of confidence.

How do you continue to improve heading into 2020 and how do you think the team as a whole improves?

Right now, it will be to get healthy and continue to get stronger and faster this offseason. The team will improve because of how young we are and going through spring ball and another offseason with Kramer is going to do a lot for this team.

#52 Jackson Hankey

What will be the one Frisco memory that will forever stick in your head?

Celebrating with my family and friends on the field after the game.

To some, this team was seen as the “underdog” given everything that happened before the season. How do you feel the team embraced that “underdog” role. What was the team’s mentality?

There were definitely a lot of people that predicted this inevitable demise to occur this year. Those people were wrong. What those people don’t understand is how this program develops players. They don’t understand that we had players waiting right behind those former starters just waiting for their chance to compete and excel. We knew we were talented and we put in a lot of work to prove it.

If you had to define 2019 NDSU football with one word, what would it be?

Physical

If you had to select one, what was the play of the year in 2019?

The last one. Jimmy Football with the pick on the goal line to seal the National Championship. What people outside the program don’t understand about that play is that Jimmy wasn’t even supposed to be there. The call we were in is something in football known as cover 0. It’s man coverage across the board with no high safeties. Jimmy left his guy wide open to cover the receiver that he knew they were throwing to. He took a tremendous risk that garnered an even more substantial reward.

In your estimation, why/how does this program (student-athletes, coaches, administration, etc.) continue to succeed year after year?

This program always finds a way to be successful because it simply deserves to be. I don’t think there are any other programs that put in work like our players and our staff. We have more meetings, more workouts, more walkthroughs and more practices than anybody else. We earn what we get every year starting a week after the last.

Where did you see the biggest improvement in your game over the course of 2019?

My biggest improvement over the year was probably in confidence and leadership. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have to prove to myself that I could play at this level and do so well.

How do you continue to improve heading into 2020 and how do you think the team as a whole improves?

The best way I know how to improve this team is to improve myself. There are many aspects of my game that leave a lot to be desired. As for the team, we need to continue to have the same attitude we’ve always had. We need to show up and go to work every day. Anything that happened yesterday doesn’t matter today. Success is not an act. It is a habit.

#67 Cordell Volson

What will be the one Frisco memory that will forever stick in your head?

My favorite Frisco memory will be playing with that special group of seniors for the last time. Those guys deserved to go out on top.

To some, this team was seen as the “underdog” given everything that happened before the season. How do you feel the team embraced that “underdog” role. What was the team’s mentality?

I think the team’s mentality was that we weren’t going to be the team that let NDSU and Bison Nation down. We knew what we were capable of doing and so many guys stepped up.

If you had to define 2019 NDSU football with one word, what would it be?

Physical

If you had to select one, what was the play of the year in 2019?

I think a play that really gave our team a ton of confidence was when we went for it on 4th down at SDSU to win the game.

In your estimation, why/how does this program (student-athletes, coaches, administration, etc.) continue to succeed year after year?

We all take a lot of pride in what we do and we care about the guy next to us so much that we don’t want to let them down.

Where did you see the biggest improvement in your game over the course of 2019?

My goal is to come in every day and get better. When you continue to stack good days on top of good days, good things happen.

How do you continue to improve heading into 2020 and how do you think the team as a whole improves?

We have to stay hungry and never get comfortable. At the end of the day, you are either getting better or you are getting worse.

#1 Christian Watson

What will be the one Frisco memory that will forever stick in your head?

Walking out of the tunnel seeing snow on the field but still seeing the stadium packed with green and gold. Can’t get enough of that.

To some, this team was seen as the “underdog” given everything that happened before the season. How do you feel the team embraced that “underdog” role. What was the team’s mentality?

Our mentality never changed, even after losing a bunch of experience in the previous year, we knew we still had the same goals of being the most dominant and physical team in the country. Taking it one week at a time, going 1-0 every week.

If you had to define 2019 NDSU football with one word, what would it be?

Adventurous

If you had to select one, what was the play of the year in 2019?

Adam Cofield’s 4th down touchdown vs SDSU.

In your estimation, why/how does this program (student-athletes, coaches, administration, etc.) continue to succeed year after year?

Our program is successful because every single coach, athlete and member of the Bison is locked into what it means to be a Bison. Everyone holds each other accountable and holds each other to the standard that’s been set by those before us.

Where did you see the biggest improvement in your game over the course of 2019?I saw the biggest improvement in my comfortability out on the field. I was able to just go out there and play fast knowing I knew what I was doing and knowing my teammates had faith in me to make plays.

How do you continue to improve heading into 2020 and how do you think the team as a whole improves?

I will continue to grow as a player, student and leader by continuing to hold myself to the standard of the Bison. We will continue to grow as a team by taking the time to grind every single day in winter workouts, spring ball and the summer.

#25 Michael Tutsie

What will be the one Frisco memory that will forever stick in your head?

The game-winning interception against James Madison.

To some, this team was seen as the “underdog” given everything that happened before the season. How do you feel the team embraced that “underdog” role. What was the team’s mentality?

We embraced it by going to work every day because we knew what we had and what we could accomplish, but we had to work for it. Our mentality was to attack one day at a time and to play for each other.

If you had to define 2019 NDSU football with one word, what would it be?

Greatness

If you had to select one, what was the play of the year in 2019?

Adam’s [Cofield] touchdown run against SDSU to take the lead.

In your estimation, why/how does this program (student-athletes, coaches, administration, etc.) continue to succeed year after year?

I think this is possible because of Coach Kramer and what he does. He truly builds Bison and really keeps this program going as the backbone. I also believe it is because of the strong tradition we have here and honoring that tradition by working every day and playing for the championship tradition and Bison brotherhood.

Where did you see the biggest improvement in your game over the course of 2019?

Once the playoffs started is when I really felt I turned on a different switch and became very confident and more of a leader.

How do you continue to improve heading into 2020 and how do you think the team as a whole improves?

I can continue to improve by striving to be above the top every day and not being complacent. I want to continue to become a leader for the team as well. The team as a whole will improve by doing what we have always done and that’s going to work in the weight room and morning workouts, and then into spring ball and so on.

#5 Trey Lance

What will be the one Frisco memory that will forever stick in your head?

Standing up on the stage, celebrating with all of my teammates and coaches.

To some, this team was seen as the “underdog” given everything that happened before the season. How do you feel the team embraced that “underdog” role. What was the team’s mentality?

The guys did an incredible job of embracing it. It motivated us throughout the year and we reminded ourselves of it every week. We “weren’t supposed to be in the National Championship game” according to a lot of people. Yet, there wasn’t a single person in our program that didn’t think we’d be there.

If you had to define 2019 NDSU football with one word, what would it be?

Relentless

If you had to select one, what was the play of the year in 2019?

James Hendricks’ interception to end the National Championship.

In your estimation, why/how does this program (student-athletes, coaches, administration, etc.) continue to succeed year after year?

We never look back and we play for each other. From the administration to the players, we understand that what we did last year or the past 10 years doesn’t matter going into next year. We continue to play for each other and the guys that have played before us that have given us these opportunities.

Where did you see the biggest improvement in your game over the course of 2019?

Feeling more comfortable as a leader on a team where we had so many.

How do you continue to improve heading into 2020 and how do you think the team as a whole improves?

I will continue to get better at all of the little things in my game. As a team, we’re going to work on being even more comfortable playing together and pushing each other on and off the field.

Championship Conversations: Returning Players
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