North Dakota State’s football program has a tradition of stellar offensive linemen wearing down opposing defenses in the trenches. The Bison added another outstanding lineman to their roster in North Dakota State College of Science’s All-American guard Nick Radunz. A sophomore from Becker, Minnesota, Radunz will be joining his brother Dillon, who is a junior offensive tackle for the Bison this year.
“My brother plays up there and ever since my sophomore year when he committed there I started bleeding green and gold,” Radunz said. “I love it up there and when Coach (AJ) Blazek got hired he really made a commitment to getting in touch with families and everything like that. He reached out to me and it seemed like everything clicked.”
Whether or not the two players will play on the field at the same time is still up in the air. Dillon is a senior next year and Nick will likely redshirt, unless he wins a spot heading into the season. The last time the Radunz brothers played together was in the state championship in 2015.
“It’s awesome. We played in the state championship and we won it my sophomore year, his senior year,” Nick said. “I can’t explain a more gratifying feeling than that. To accomplish something like that next to your brother, I can only imagine it’s being behind the birth of a child or a wedding. My family is really close. He pushes me and so does my sister. That’s something I can’t put into words.”
Playing for the Bison has always been the destination for Nick. He was hoping to join the team his first year of college, but it wasn’t in the cards.
“Coming out of high school I wanted to walk on at NDSU, but I couldn’t get accepted. I didn’t have the grades for it,” Nick said. “One of my coaches, a former Wildcat Troy Robinson, he sat down with me and said, ‘This is a really good route. I know what your dreams are, but I think this is the best way to do it.’ He gave my number to Coach Izzy (Eric Issendorf), he came down and we talked. I said I’d be there in the fall.”
Nick went on earn All-American First Team honors in his freshman campaign. Now a captain in his sophomore season, he’s paving lanes for the run-heavy Wildcats just as well this year. He’s primarily a guard, but has also played center and tackle at NDSCS.
“(Coach Blazak) likes me at center. I’ve played a little center here and there, but again, it’s whatever they need or wherever they put me,” Nick said.
Along with showing he could get the job done on the field, Nick also had to show he could succeed in the classroom. He took 24 credits in the spring, 21 more this semester and he’s poised to graduate in December.
North Dakota State has a long tradition of linemen moving on to the NFL. Billy Turner, Joe Haeg Paul Cornick and other former Bison linemen have suited up on Sundays.
“I said (to Coach Blazak), ‘I want you to coach me. I see the way you coach Dillon and what you’ve done with Dillon and I want you to do that with me. I want to be able to have the opportunity to play at the next level and that just seems like the best option for me,’” Nick said.
There are multiple current Bison O-linemen that are getting interest from NFL scouts and Nick already knows the players.
“They’re amazing dudes and I can’t wait to get up there and have them coach me and give me some pointers. It’s really exciting,” Nick said.
Nick will enroll in classes at NDSU in the spring. Before that, he’s hoping to help his Wildcats to an MCAC Championship and a bowl victory.
“I would definitely say it’s been a long ride,” Nick said. “I’m excited to bleed green and gold again.”