The North Dakota State University Spring Football Game takes place on Saturday, April 26 at the Fargodome. Spring practice has been underway for the better part of two weeks and this season's spring workouts carry much more weight than in the previous seasons.
The past two seasons, the Spring Game has been nothing more than a chance for fans to curb their football appetites. A majority of NDSU's starters the past two years were already set in stone and a Spring Game wasn't going to change that.
This spring is going to be different for several reasons.
With the loss of 24 seniors from last years national title squad, NDSU is going to be trying out plenty of new names at key positions. Names like Landon Lechler (offensive tackle) and Nate Tanguay (defensive line) will try to become mainstays in the minds of Bison fans.
You also have Carson Wentz, the back-up quarterback to Mr. Bison Brock Jensen for the past two seasons. While the name is familiar to Bison fans, his game is not.
Their first opportunity to show off their skills to the public happens at the Spring Game.
You also have a "new" coaching staff. I put new in quotation marks because there are a lot of familiar names on the coaching staff. Head coach Chris Klieman was NDSU's defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.
New offensive coordinator, Tim Polasek, spent seven years at NDSU as an assistant coach from 2006-2012. Nick Goeser, the special teams coach and recruiting coordinator, has been at NDSU since 2010. The new tight ends/fullbacks coach, Tyler Roehl, was an All-American at NDSU during his four year career that lasted from 2004-2008.
Names like Atif Austin (wide receiver coach), Jamar Cain (defensive ends coach) and Matt Entz (defensive coordinator) are new to Bison fans but quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg is not.
Hedberg, a North Dakota native and Minot State football legend, might be the most watched assistant on the staff. He has the task of coaching not only the guy to follow Jensen, but an incoming freshman in Easton Stick that is arguably one of NDSU's highest touted recruits.
There should be an understanding that between the Spring Game and the first fall practice, there is going to be an entire incoming freshman class. The impact they will have on the team is a large unknown.
That is why this Spring Game, for many of the underclassman, is so important. It is one last chance to show coaches why they deserve a shot in the fall.
New faces, names and numbers for Bison fans to get familiar with for the 2014 season are the main reason this years Spring Game should be a highly anticipated one.
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.