Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Easton Stick looks to leave his final mark on North Dakota State’s football program.
- Omaha, NE
- 6-foot-2, 221 pounds
- Major: Sports Management
- 2017 Passing Yards: 2,466
- 2017 Rushing Yards: 663
- 2017 Total Yards: 3,129
- 2017 Total Touchdowns: 40
- NDSU Career Record: 34-3
- .895 Winning Percentage
- Career Completion Percentage: 61%
- Total Career Touchdowns: 84
- Total Career Yards: 7,786
You have faced pretty much everything in this program. Coming in as a senior now, how have the previous three years prepared you for this final college run?
Obviously, I’ve been fortunate to play a lot of football here and been through a lot of different things good and bad. So I think you take a little bit of the good, a little bit of the bad and then you’re learning from everything. And I think that provides a little bit of perspective going into the last one knowing you’ve seen just about everything you can see. And not to get too high, not to get too low and just kind of keep pushing through it. But really that’s kind of how the program is run and kind of what Coach Klieman is preaching anyway. So it’s just kind of business as usual and me just pushing through it.
I have to ask: Talk about the Manning Passing Academy experience. What were your big takeaways and what did the Mannings have to say to you?
Really cool experience. Obviously, it’s a fun camp to be a part of. They do an unbelievable job of mentoring and teaching high school kids and middle school kids that come down there for the camp and then they do a great job of helping the college counselors learn as well. We had opportunities to work out and learn some more drills and talk about footwork and fundamentals and different things like that, as well as sitting there and asking questions and kind of picking their brain. So I learned a ton about preparation. You know what their week looks like, taking care of their bodies, taking care of their arm and the offseason. There’s just so much great advice that we got from them and then being able to pick the brain and just kind of talk ball with a bunch of other guys that are playing the same position at big-time programs around the country. So it was a great experience, fun traveling to a different part of the country, I’ve never been to Louisiana before. So just a great experience and learned a bunch that hopefully is going to help us throughout the year.
Obviously, there is some chatter about being drafted after this season. I know your focus is this season, but the idea of being an NFL quarterback has to be an exciting idea, right?
I think anyone that plays this game, they want to play it at the highest level. It’s something that when you’re a little kid I think everybody at some point wanted to be a professional athlete in whatever sport. So yeah, obviously that’s been a dream of mine forever. But like you said, none of that stuff is in my control. And so I’m just really excited to keep growing with this senior class. It is really special and 25 seniors, that’s a big group and a special group of guys that have great relationships with one another. I’m excited to be with those guys for another year. Like I said, I’m worried about having a good day tomorrow, stacking good day on good day. Hopefully, that puts us in a good position to win and go from there.
We talked with Coach Hedberg on our podcast and he says that there is a difference between watching film and comprehending the film you watch. He said you are one of the best he’s seen at comprehending film. I know that detail is something Carson instilled in you, but to you, how important are those fine details in the film room or in practice? Is attention to detail a must-have quality for quarterbacks?
You can go and sit there for three hours and yeah it sounds great, but shoot if you didn’t come away with a good understanding of what they’re trying to do or just some base defense stuff at least, you’re really wasting your time. So you got to be able to understand what you’re looking at and then why you’re looking at it. What are we trying to do out of this formation or with this personnel grouping and what are they going to do to stop it. Being able to find some sort of tells, some keys to show you maybe it’s a blitz or it’s man defense, zone defense or whatever. That’s something that you just learn as you go through it. Obviously, I’m much better at it now than I was when I got here as a freshman. I think Carson and Cole did a great job of kind of showing me. Now it’s kind of my responsibility to help show Holden, Trey and Noah what we’re looking for and why we’re looking for it.
How much importance have you put on teaching the future Bison quarterbacks (Holden Hotchkiss, Noah Sanders and Trey Lance)? Do you feel you are doing to them what Carson did to you before he moved on?
Yeah, it’s really important. That’s how it was done for me and Carson took a ton of his time and made sure that I was getting caught up to speed. I was understanding what the heck is going on and being able to learn and so yeah that’s a big responsibility for me. It’s different, it’s the first time I’ve been the oldest guy in the room. So it’s different not having Cole, and he was such a great teacher. He did a good job of keeping things light and was great at finding ways to memorize a formation or a concept, he was great at that. It’s a big responsibility and something that’s just kind of the way it’s done in our room. You continue to pass down information. Those guys are doing a really good job, working hard and you can tell specifically with Holden and Noah that they’re just so much more confident coming into year two.
You and the team have some very high expectations this season. How do you handle those expectations as an individual?
You really can’t worry about them because it’s easy to get caught up in that stuff. If you’re not doing what you need to do day-to-day then none of that stuff is ever going to be a reality. For us right now it’s stacking good day on good day. It’s been really competitive and high energy at practice and being really detailed with our work with the older guys and then it’s helping build the younger guys up and getting them up to speed because there’s going to be some guys that can help us this year. They’re going to be the future of this program and so it’s being really detailed with the ones and pouring into these younger guys helping them get up to speed. If we just keep doing that, stacking good day on good day, we’ll put ourselves in a good position to win and we’ll go from there.
The most glowing quality I have heard about you is your leadership ability. What does it take to become a great leader in your mind?
Leadership can look so much different for different people, it looks different between the leaders on our team. I’m not the same as Tre Dempsey, I’m not the same as Carson. You just gotta be yourself and be genuine and make sure you’re doing a good job holding yourself to the high standards that we have. If you do that, you’re able to hold others accountable and can challenge other people and encourage other people. But it starts with being yourself and doing things the right way. From there, it’s building a relationship with your teammates, it’s being a servant. That’s what we talk about a lot is servant leadership and that is just putting others before yourself and that’s Bison football. It’s the team before you personally, and it’s a constant battle growing every day and learning.
You guys have five stellar running backs and some very talented wide receivers and tight ends too. As a quarterback, how does it feel to have all of those weapons at your disposal?
Yeah, it’s awesome. Knowing that you can turn around, hand the ball off and whoever it is, you could look over your shoulder and they can be making somebody miss and going the distance. That’s exciting. We can move those guys around all over the place though. We have three senior wide receivers and Darrius has had a ton of success in the past. I think Dallas is ready to really break out. Desmond is so much more comfortable after just having a full year in the program under him. We’ve got some young guys that are making plays and then an offensive line group that’s experienced, that’s super tough and really athletic. It’s exciting that we’ve got guys that can make plays and score the football. I’m excited to kind of grow here and see what happens.
- All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Honorable Mention: 2016 & 2017
- 2017 CFPA FCS National Performer of the Year
- 2018 NCAA Division I Championship Game Most Outstanding Player