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Incoming coach Klieman hits the recruiting trail

FARGO — Incoming North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman was on the road recruiting Saturday while the Bison’s opponent for the Division I FCS national title game was being decided in Cheney, Wash. Multi-tasking is never easy this time of the year when your team is still playing.

Klieman was named to the position last Sunday and takes the reigns full time after the Bison play Towson State (Md.) on Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas. Towson rallied to beat Eastern Washington 35-31 and the Tigers will be Priority A for the coaching staff before they go their separate ways.

There are several Priority Bs that Klieman can’t ignore, either.

He said assistant coach Conor Riley will be retained along with defensive line coach Nick Goeser. That’s about as far as he’ll go with the naming of his staff, although he said he’s going to start looking at candidates in the next 10 to 14 days. He said Riley, who currently coaches the fullbacks and tight ends, will coach the offensive line. He was the offensive line coach at Sacramento State for two years before coming to NDSU and was in that position from 2007-10 at Nebraska-Omaha.

“That’s his passion and forte,” Klieman said.

Head coach Craig Bohl was named the head coach at the University of Wyoming and Bohl is expected to take several assistants with him. Having Goeser and Riley stay is important for continuity, Klieman said, because both are well versed in the Bison system that is not expected to change much. Strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer will also remain with the program.

FCS football will start a “dead period” for recruiting on Monday that lasts through Jan. 3, meaning trips like the one Klieman took on Saturday are prohibited. Coaches are allowed one phone call per week to a recruit.

“We’ll make our calls specifically to the kids who have already committed to NDSU,” Klieman said. “That’s still first and foremost, making sure those kids stay locked up.”

He said he’ll review players that NDSU has already offered and see if those players are still interested in the Bison.

“We hope there is,” Klieman said.

Preparation for Towson will begin Monday. Klieman said he likes having two weeks between the semifinal and title games this year compared to three weeks in the last two years. Three weeks just gets too long, he said, and players are more susceptible to being rusty.

The one concern with the defense is safety Colten Heagle, who played through a shoulder injury in the 52-14 win over New Hampshire on Friday night.

“The big key is Colten playing with an arm and not both,” Klieman said. “We need to make sure he gets healthy.”

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.