Bison’s Morlock plans quick return
FARGO — Chase Morlock left North Dakota State football practice Wednesday in a yellow T-shirt and shorts. He hopes to leave Jack Trice Stadium in nine days in a white jersey and green pants.
The sophomore running back has been out this week after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The procedure, usually not very invasive to what is generally a quick-healing ailment, isn’t expected to impact Morlock’s position on the depth chart.
He and sophomore King Frazier are still slated to share backup carries to starting running back John Crockett when the Bison open at Iowa State on Aug. 30.
“I’m planning on being back pretty quick,” Morlock said.
He earned the top backup spot in spring football, and head coach Chris Klieman said the Moorhead High School graduate was having a very good fall camp. But a decision was made to have the surgery when his knee worsened during the month.
Morlock said he’s not sure how it happened — perhaps during the spring or over the summer.
“I had just been playing with it for a while,” he said. “It started bugging me, so we had to get it checked out and get it done with.”
Morlock played as a true freshman last year, but mostly on special teams. Klieman said his value in that area is still very high, but this year wants to add more running back duties.
He had 47 carries for 262 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt with two touchdowns. But in NDSU’s 15-0 national championship season, many of those plays came when the game was already decided.
“It’s exciting to know I’m actually going to be helping the team early in the game instead of late in the fourth quarter when it’s already a blowout,” Morlock said. “I’m excited to get in there and help this team win games in tight situations.”
He did plenty of that at Moorhead High, rushing for over 5,000 yards in his career and setting a single-season school record with 31 touchdowns. He was also a standout linebacker and Klieman — then the Bison defensive coordinator — thought he had another top-notch linebacker recruit coming to his side of the ball.
But the Bison lost a running back late in the recruiting process and NDSU kept Morlock in the backfield.
“And as we watched him in fall camp last year, it was like, yeah, that kid is a tailback,” Klieman said.
He has the size at 6 foot and 213 pounds — up from 195 a year ago. He said he’s better at pass protection, picking up blitzes and reading defenses this year, something that just comes with experience.
As he’s said all spring, Klieman expects Crockett to get a “lion’s share” of the rushing attempts. He also said he believes Morlock could see between 20 and 35 plays a game — depending on the situation.
“I’m just mentally seeing everything, and everything in the offense is slowing down,” Morlock said. “I’m starting to get a good grasp of it. I’m ready to take my game to the next level with this offense, and just need to get this knee ready to go and play Iowa State.”