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Eager Wentz; Backup Bison QB asks to meet with position coach

FARGO — It was about 6:15 in the morning on Sunday when North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman’s cell phone received a text message alert. It was from quarterback Carson Wentz, who wanted to meet the team’s new quarterbacks coach.

There was to be no waiting around for the sophomore quarterback, who is in line to be the heir apparent to Brock Jensen. He wanted to talk football with Randy Hedberg.

“I’m excited for Randy to be around our guys, be around our quarterbacks,” Klieman said.

Hedberg and Wentz talked for about an hour later Sunday before Wentz went home for the remainder of semester break. They talked about fundamentals and leadership.

“I think Carson is a very intelligent guy,” Hedberg said.

He was one of three assistants Klieman introduced to the media on Monday with offensive coordinator Tim Polasek and defensive coordinator Matt Entz. Defensive ends coach Jamar Cain will arrive in Fargo on Wednesday.

Klieman said he still has to hire five positions: secondary coach, wide receivers coach, fullbacks and tight ends coach, a graduate assistant and a video coordinator. He said senior linebacker Grant Olson will be a student assistant next year.

Hedberg will most likely be the most experienced of the staff. He’s returning to the state where he grew up.

“It’s good to get back to North Dakota,” he said. “It’s a good state for me, my family, I have family in Fargo, western North Dakota and my wife is from Minnesota.”

He remembers watching a couple games at Dacotah Field in the 1970s as a NDSU recruit from Parshall, N.D., but chose Minot State because he wanted to play football, basketball and baseball

“If I had concentrated on football, I would have been a Bison,” Hedberg said.

He was a 1977 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and started five games as a rookie. He was with Oakland in 1979 and Green Bay in 1980 before getting into coaching full time.

He spent the last six years at Southern Illinois, which is coached by former North Dakota head coach Dale Lennon.

“Dale was very respectful, he understood the opportunity for me to get back to North Dakota,” Hedberg said.

He’s already familiar with all three Bison quarterbacks. He recruited Wentz out of Bismarck Century. “I looked at the film of Carson Wentz as a senior at Century and I turned to coach Lennon and said this is a no brainer, we have to offer him and we did,” Hedberg said.

He worked with backup Derek McGinnis at a camp in Lincoln, Neb., two years ago and was aware of freshman Cole Davis during the recruiting process. NDSU has a verbal commitment from senior Easton Stick of Creighton Prep High School in Omaha, Neb.

Hedberg will be responsible for recruiting the state of North Dakota. He coached at Minot State from 1979-90 with the last nine years as head coach. He was the offensive coordinator at the University of North Dakota from 1996-99.

With fellow Southern Illinois assistant Bubba Schweigert getting the head position at UND, he’ll now be recruiting against old friends.

“It will be an interesting dynamic in the recruiting process,” Hedberg said.

Meanwhile, the process of healing for the Bison players after 15 games has already begun. Offensive tackle Zack Johnson had surgery on his shoulder Monday and will miss spring football.

Klieman said shoulder surgeries to linebacker Travis Beck, cornerback C.J. Smith and safety Colten Heagle will keep them out of spring ball. Kicker Adam Keller had surgery on his hip Monday and is out indefinitely.

Klieman said the knee of starting center Josh Colville is a concern, but no decision has been made if a procedure is needed.

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.