Photos by Hillary Ehlen and Brent Tehven
By Jaylaan Wimbush
Senior defensive back Jaylaan Wimbush logs the events, moments and emotions of his final trip to Frisco.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Had a good time finishing the final details of our game plan at the dome for practice this morning and just had a blast being with the guys and having another good ol’ country music Wednesday. I don’t really know about everyone else, but I do enjoy these jumpsuits they got us this year. We all look fancy in them.
I’m writing to you guys right now 33,000 feet in the air without WiFi (ughhhhh, I’m dying here). I’m really excited to get down to land again and get to Omni Hotel, where we will be staying. Another hour-and-a-half or so to go, and we will be in Dallas!
On a side note, I can’t express how lucky this team is to have the most dedicated and committed fan base in the nation. We roll strong wherever we go and I’m so fortunate to be a part of this. The strength of the bison is the herd and the strength of the herd is the bison!
Oh man, this hotel is absolutely amazing. I literally haven’t seen a hotel this nice ever. It honestly resembles its own sort of town like it could be called Jerry’s world. The food is absolutely amazing and the beds…ohhhh the beds are like jumping on clouds. Just amazing.
We got cut loose a bit early after walkthrough and had a few hours to ourselves where guys could go and check out the mini town by the hotel and that’s what happened. For me, I just went and got some food at Raising Canes and went back to my room, talked with my fiancée for a bit, and watched a little TV. I kept it simple just so that I could keep focus and relax after a day full of traveling. Can’t wait to tell you guys about tomorrow’s adventures! Go Bison!
Thursday, January 3, 2019
It is extremely hard to get out of bed and get the day going with how amazing this bed feels. If only you guys could feel it. Other than that it’s an early morning because it is a day filled with stuff. Breakfast seemed like it flew by even though it was absolutely delicious.
Next, we had position meetings to catch up on seeing our opponent, Eastern Washington. I always enjoy our meetings because they aren’t so uptight like most people would assume. There are times of seriousness but, in order to keep us engaged and attentive, coach will always make a joke or tell us a story about people we don’t know and it always puts a smile on everyone’s face just to hear Coach Klanderman say crazy stuff like that.
We headed to Toyota Stadium after meetings to take our team picture and have media day before practice. The team photo is always great because there are guys snapping selfies and stuff like that together, checking each other’s hair to make sure it’s OK, and in other cases, checking beards. Media day was also pretty cool because I was able to share my “Dear Football” letter that ended up being a pretty big deal.
After all of the cameras and lights and things of that nature, and a good practice, we got to chow down for lunch back at the hotel. Not sure if I mentioned the food yet in these two days of journaling but gosh it’s really good. Like any good football program, we ended up having more meetings and more walkthroughs in the time span after lunch until it was time to head to the Miracle League event, which is a wonderful thing that is done for those kids and their families. The amount of smiles and laughs that we are able to help produce for these kids is amazing as well as the excitement they all get from playing football with these players and having the teams cheer them on as they make plays.
The Miracle League game ended in a tie, then we headed back to the buses for the Great Texas Barbecue Bowl, where the two teams get to enjoy themselves and have fun. With me being an older guy on the team, I have played many of the games and done all of this stuff, but this year I wanted to just lay back and have a good time watching the other guys do their own thing. I did my fair share of bowling, but other than that I let the young guys enjoy themselves and make those memories.
We won the BBQ Bowl belt, then loaded up buses yet again and headed to the hotel to end the night. I was feeling a bit sweet, so I went with some of the older O-line to the ice cream shop and had ourselves a sweet treat with the main man himself, Hank Jacobs. It was nice to just relax and be old, I guess you could say. It was a fantastic treat as well, but I was ready for bed. I hit the hay for the night anxious for Friday to come.
Friday, January 4, 2019
Today was a bit of a different day in that we didn’t have to be up as early for meetings because we had the championship banquet to attend. With guys all dressed to impress and be amazing like we always are, it was good to switch shifts and really enjoy the little things. We were able to see the National Soccer Hall of Fame and enjoy the virtual reality experience and different things they had to offer while we were there. It was also awesome to see Ben Ellefson get awarded the Elite 90 award for his outstanding accomplishments in the classroom. Love that guy!
After eating heaping amounts of bacon and having a side of eggs with biscuits and gravy, we headed back to the hotel to change and get back into football mode with the game being less than 24 hours away. We had our special teams meeting and we also had offense and defense walkthroughs in the hotel before another fantastic meal at the Omni.
In the afternoon, we went to Toyota Stadium for our most memorable moments for everyone, the alumni practice. We have our own thing on the field and then after we finish, a plethora of former Bison greats show up and show their love and support for the players Friday JANUARY 2019 TH wearing green and gold. I will never forget these moments because you bond and make connections with guys that are 20-plus years older than you are and you just have that genuine compassion in your heart because through everything you speak the same language and you know what it is that you signed up for when you said you wanted to be an NDSU Bison. I’m glad that one day I will be able to be on the other side looking on and supporting and caring for the players just as these former players did for me in my five years here.
After all was said and done with the alumni practice we headed back to the hotel for meetings, pregame dinner and captains’ meetings. As we get prepared to go to work in about 12 hours everyone has the look of pure victory on their face and I’m so ready to go to bed and share the field with these guys. But before I do that, my parents, my fiancée and my friend have all just arrived to Texas from Florida and Minnesota so I have to go spend time with them and chat up a storm. Also, it’s pretty cool because the Dallas Cowboys will also be staying in the hotel tonight for their game tomorrow. It’s pretty heavily secured right now, so that’s that. But I am going to bed now and I will be ready for a war tomorrow.
Saturday, January 5, 2019
I couldn’t sleep, which is pretty normal for me on a game night, but last night was different. Each year I’ve played football here, I have not thought about the next game or the last one of the season, but today is different because this game marks an end to my time here at NDSU. There is no other way I would want to go out than with a win but also as a national champion. I have to do everything in my power to help the team be successful. I’m so ready. We have breakfast and I don’t eat much before a game which at times comes to bite me in the butt, but it’s something I’ve always done. After we eat, Coach Klieman says his words and we feel every word that he is saying as we prepare ourselves mentally.
We load up the buses and the police escort to the stadium is just amazing and awesome to have. We pass by hundreds of cars and vans and buses of Bison fans as we prepare for the game and we are all locked in. The stadium walk is still such an awesome thing to experience as well. The band, the fans, your family all there lining the walkway as you prepare for this moment.
I listen to so many different genres of music as I prepare for a game. Rap and rock have to be a must as you prepare. The locker room is pretty quiet right before I leave and head to the stairs to go to the field, and I love it. I have a pregame ritual which I love to do even though it isn’t a must. I walk the sideline around the field walking around the goal post on each end and then I walk the 50 and walk right back into the locker room to get dressed. I have done that every game this season and about half of them last year. I don’t know what got me started with this pregame ritual but I love to do it. The game is about to start, so I’ll talk to you after we celebrate.
Man what a game! I don’t think anything could describe this team better than resilient, hardworking, gritty football. Shoutout to Bryce Bennot for the word and tradition of Grit Week – he lives it in his day-to-day life. I can’t say enough about this game and this group. From the start, we wanted to be great and we set out to do that starting in the very beginning of the season with Cal Poly. Though it seemed like forever ago, that was the game that led us to this opportunity.
I’m beyond blessed to be part of this team and this program and I have to say that the best fans in the nation have a Bison on their shirt somewhere and wear the green and gold. The fans today were amazing and the energy was electric. I was THUNDERSTRUCK!!
The Flight Home
I sit on the plane now heading back to Fargo preparing for my next steps in life and the one thing that is staying constant on my mind is I will for sure miss this. Five years ago I was told by many people that this place is special. I believed it as any young 18-year-old should, but I lived it and now it’s with me forever.
I will never forget the memories and moments that I have been able to capture and see because the saying stands true, “Those who stay will be champions.” That goes for the fans too. Those who stay through the ups and downs of a season or the ups and downs of a player’s career or even those who stay through whole games whether they are blowouts or not will be champions with us.
I can’t thank NDSU, my family, my fiancée, the coaches, the players, these seniors and the other athletes enough for just being a part of the best decision I have ever made and if I had to do it again… I would do it a thousand times over just to be with everything that it has brought into my life.
Thank you all so much for riding along through this journey, and I hope to see everyone from a different perspective as a Bison fan. Thank you and GO BISON!