« NDSU Bison

The Smartest Linebacker

by Dan Gunderson

Last week, North Dakota State University head football coach Craig Bohl said something that caught my attention. He said that senior linebacker Grant Olson is “top” when it comes to smartest player he has ever coached. Those are some strong words coming from a guy who has been coaching since 1984.

To put that statement in perspective, I took a look back at who coach Bohl might have coached in his nearly 30 years on the sidelines. I’ll keep to just linebackers since coach Bohl has spent most of his time as a linebackers coach and Olson, himself, plays linebacker.

Back in 1984, coach Bohl was the defensive backs coach for an NDSU team that went 11-2 overall and lost in the national championship game to Troy 18-17.

While coach Bohl never worried too much about the linebackers at this point, it is worth noting that linebacker Jim Dick played for that ’84 team. Dick is NDSU’s career leader in assisted tacklers with 326.

From 1985-88, Bohl coached the linebackers at first Tulsa University and then the University of Wisconsin. Frankly, those teams were not much to write home about. He followed that up by going to Texas to be the defensive coordinator for Rice University.

The team improved steadily and Bohl had two linebackers, Tony Barker and O.J. Brigance, go on to have pro careers. Brigance is one of a handful of players to win both a Super Bowl Ring and a Grey Cup ring .

A one year stint in 1994 at Duke University as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach followed. The Blue Devils were 8-1 at one point in 1994 but lost their last three games and Bohl left for the University of Nebraska to coach the linebackers.

This is where his Grant Olson comment begins to make an impact. Between 1995 and now, here is a list of just some of the linebackers Bohl has coached. Grant Wistrom, Mike Rucker, Carlos Polk, Scott Shanle, Barrett Ruud, Demorrio Williams, Joe Mays and Ramon Humber.

And that is just the linebackers he has coached between 1984 and now. What an unbelievable statement to make about one of the best linebackers to wear a Bison jersey.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.