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Poetry in motion: Wimbush's words ring a powerful message

North Dakota State cornerback Jaylaan Wimbush arrives for practice at the Toyota Stadium Complex on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. David Samson / Forum News Service1 / 2
Jaylaan Wimbush of NDSU lets out a holler as he is hoisted by Bison teammate Jarrod Tuszka after tackling Deion Holliman of Missouri State during the Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, game at the Fargodome. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 2

"Without you here I feel so cold,

I need my escape and I found that in you."

Jaylaan Wimbush

FARGO — It was 10 years ago when Jacqueline Wimbush passed away from leukemia. It was four days before Jaylaan Wimbush's 12th birthday.

To deal with the loss and the subsequent pain, the young boy began to write poetry with the passing of his mother. Not one who liked to talk about it, Wimbush found that writing was another way to deal with it all. His mother was only 39 years old.

"That was my outlet," Jaylaan said. "I kept to myself and did what I needed to do, but I wrote deeply on matters that I felt bothered me or anything like that."

He's still writing. The senior safety on the North Dakota State football team is also the only player to have writings so good that they are suitable to be published in a literary journal called "Northern Electa."

Wimbush's work is titled "My Oasis."

His inspiration came from soldiers overseas coming home and being reunited with their families.

"It always isn't that pleasant," he said. "Families do have to deal with the fact their family member or brother or husband or wife isn't coming home the same way that they left. And my poem depicts coming home and the burial of a soldier — the view from the person that lost that person."

"I found my oasis and now it is lost with my soul,

I had my person, the one that makes me whole."

The students in Eunice Johnston's English 413 class thought the "My Oasis" poem was the best of Wimbush's work.

"Just everyday things, anything can be an inspiration to you," Wimbush said. "My inspiration came from scrolling through Facebook and finding a video of a dad surprising his son coming home. I just started writing about it and just bled out on paper you could say."

The journal is still in the process of getting printed, but this semester Wimbush is on to other things in the English department.

"Jaylaan is bright and motivated and he brings an interesting perspective to his classes," Johnston said. "His true love seems to be writing."

She said she's looking forward to seeing what Wimbush does for a project in the department's English 467 class titled "English Studies Capstone Experience."

On the field, heading into Saturday's season opener against Cal Poly at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, Bison head coach Chris Klieman is looking forward to seeing what Wimbush does with a change in positions. He came to NDSU from St. Petersburg, Fla., as a safety, but was moved to cornerback.

With the Bison stocked at that position, he was moved back to safety last spring and it will be either him or James Hendricks starting at free safety against the Mustangs. Either way, both will most likely play a lot and in passing situations, both could very well be in the game at the same time.

"It was kind of like a going home kind of thing," Wimbush said of returning to safety.

"I get a call saying that you are coming home,

But not in a way that I can hug you or call you on the phone."

Klieman said he'll never forget Wimbush's first day on campus. He figures Wimbush weighed all of 152 pounds. He's now 6-foot and 195 pounds.

"And what he's done off the field," Klieman said. "He's a really mature young man, great leader for our younger guys and another one who came from Florida that never wanted to go home, loved it here and he's a special person that is going to have a great future beyond football. He's done lot things, he's not just going to play football and get an education, he's going to do those as well as do a number of things in the community."

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.

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