NDSU football’s toughest opponent
How the transfer portal is impacting Bison football
FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - As hard as it is for North Dakota State to convince Power Five schools to schedule them each fall, the FBS remains the program’s toughest opponent.
“The biggest concern with us these days is the ability of other schools, if we have graduates, the ability of some of the Power Five to try to pluck kids,” Bison head football coach Matt Entz said Thursday. “That’s a bigger concern than the NFL.”
The transfer portal has grown rapidly as fall football seasons have been postponed. With several Missouri Valley Football Conference member schools being effected.
The Bison aren’t immune.
“I’m sure Dillon [Radunz] has received dozens of messages, text, direct messages from other institutions from back channels,” Entz said. “Some way, some how. To see if he was either going to be a graduate or interested in transferring.”
Radunz is remaining at NDSU to finish his degree and graduate in December. Then the senior offensive lineman plans to go pro. He’s projected as high as the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft and so the draw of an FBS program won’t work for someone in Radunz’s position. Still Radunz is not the only player on the Bison roster Power Five school would be interested in.
“I’m not complaining, I can’t control it,” Entz said. “It’s something as a staff we know is out there and you have to be aware.”
For Entz and his staff, he said they fight the battle daily by creating genuine relationships with their players and recruiting each and every guy, every day of their career.
“We just worry about what we can control. What I can control is the experience our kids have here at NDSU,” Entz explained. “We try and make it one of the best experiences ever. I tell every recruit, ‘I hope when you walk across that graduation stage you tell me, ‘Coach if I could do it all over again I would.’ That to me is probably the greatest compliment you can have.”
With the success North Dakota State has generated on the field, the program and the product speaks for itself when the Bison coaching staff is recruiting high school athletes.
“We have a track record here at NDSU that you can get to the NFL from here. We’re on ESPN as much as most teams in the country are. You’re going to be visible, you’re going to have opportunities to compete. But I think the greatest method for us to avoid [players being poached by the Power Five] is to create unbelievable relationships with our players. If I can connect with everyone on our football team, to a different level, then I think it gets really hard for them to walk in here and say, ‘coach I’m leaving.’ Because this is a place that provides everything. You’re going to have provided opportunities, maybe not to the level of the NFL, but you’re going to be provided the opportunity to graduate, get a great job. Still be part of the program for life, ‘Once a Bison, Always a Bison.”
NDSU got it’s first real taste of the Power Five pull last spring when linebacker Jabril Cox transferred to LSU for his senior season.
“There’s a lot of people involved,” Entz said he learned from the experience. “And unfortunately there are a lot of people that are faceless that are going to be involved in the transfer world.”
It is fair to say this is the price you pay for success. With it comes unwanted attention at times which Entz said he understands. He knows exactly why schools keep an eye on his roster.
“We do a great job of developing talent,” Entz said. “We take long, lean, athletic bodies at every position, we give them to [strength coach Jim] Kramer, he gets to mold them. We coach the heck out of them. We practice, we play a lot of football and I think people see the product that’s on the field.”
The transfer portal and the promises from Power Five schools aren’t going anywhere and Cox may not be the last Bison to ever make the move. But it won’t be for a lack of effort from Entz and his staff in their relentless attempt to foster these relationships and ensure these Bison are always a Bison.
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