Atif austin, Wide Receivers coach

Frisco Memories: Randy Hedberg and Atif Austin

Quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg and wide receivers coach Atif Austin talk about their experience coaching national champions.

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The grind never ends for college football coaches. Coming off a 2016 season when North Dakota State’s run of national titles ended, the Bison coaches went right to work on the 2017 edition of NDSU football. The work was rewarded after fighting through a season of adversity and reclaiming the FCS throne. We sat down with each position coach and asked what this season meant to them.

RELATED: “Frisco Memories: Nick Goeser and Buddha Williams

Randy Hedberg, Quarterbacks Coach

NDSU has been fortunate to only need three different starting quarterbacks in its run of national titles since 2011. Randy Hedberg has gotten a chance to work with two of them: Carson Wentz and Easton Stick. The first is becoming a star in the NFL. The second has a chance to tie or break Brock Jensen’s all-time wins record in FCS history next season.

RANDY HEDBERG Quarterbacks coach

What impressed you the most about how Easton bounced back from that South Dakota State loss when he threw three interceptions?
“I don’t think it deterred him too much. He kept progressing the way we expected him to. In that particular game against the Jacks, he was errant in his throws and he became more accurate as he progressed throughout the season. I think that was the biggest thing.”

Easton Stick

Cole Davis went his whole career as a backup and stuck it out to end his career a national champion. What does a guy like Cole mean to you and this program?
“I can’t speak enough about his importance to this program. He’s tremendous, a good person, high character. The players have great respect for him. The thing that’s neat about Easton and Cole is they’re best friends and get along extremely well. That’s a credit to Cole because he easily could have turned his back and went another way. That’s the way it is in college football, people don’t get a chance and they transfer. But Cole hung in there because teammates were important to him.”

What does this national title mean to you?
“It’s really neat for me because I’m a native of North Dakota and I think it’s really important to our state. A lot of people are very proud of what the Bison have done and what’s transpired and how it’s brought attention to the state. The Bison have done that in a very proud way.”

Atif Austin, Wide Receivers Coach

The NDSU wide receivers had several clutch moments throughout the 2017 season. Senior RJ Urzendowski continued to dazzle the crowd with one-handed catches and the explosive junior Darrius Shepherd found the end zone for the first time in the national title game on a key 50-yard score. Combined, the two had 78 catches for 1,169 yards and nine touchdowns.

Atif austin, Wide Receivers coach

Photo by Darren Gibbins

What’s it been like coaching a guy like RJ?
“It’s been a pleasure for me. He’s been a super awesome leader in our room. He’s been a great player year in and year out. I tell you what, I’m going to miss him. But around this place, you have great players leave this program and you have other guys step up.”

How great was it to see Shepherd reach the end zone in Frisco?
“It was crazy because it was just one of those years where Shep hasn’t seen the end zone all season long and then his first touchdown is in the national championship game. It was super awesome to see him play well and play fast. When he got that touchdown, I was so excited for him.”

NDSU Bison Football

What does this national title mean to you?
“It’s the third for me, but it was awesome to win it with the guys I’ve been with from Day 1. Not to take away from the other guys I coached previously, but I’ve been with this group longer than any of the other guys. It was super special. It was cool with coach Messingham and coach Buddha coming into the program and not missing a beat and getting us back on track.”


Frisco Memories: Randy Hedberg and Atif Austin
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