WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 23, 2010, 10:45 AM

Bison Football: Unproven running back ready for the challenge

Fargo, ND (WDAY Sports) - It's become customary for Bison fans to expect 1,000 yard rushers. They've had one for the last seven years. The guy, who's trying to make it an 8th straight year, just happens to wear number 8, DJ McNorton. He says he's ready for the challenge.

Tyler Roehl and Pat Paschall were unproven and anything but sure bets when they first became starting tailbacks at NDSU. They ended up exceeding everyone's expectations and became all-Americans. D-J McNorton hopes he can now follow that trend.

DJ McNorton: “That's a good inspiration to see both of them excel when they got their shot. I'm ready to step up and take that challenge.”

McNorton will be given a chance to be the man carrying the pigskin for the Bison this season. At 5-10, 200 pounds, he's basically the same size as Pat Paschall was when he surprised everyone by leading the FCS in rushing. Can McNorton have a similar season?

Craig Bohl: “We think he can. Last year he showed to be elusive. He doesn't have blazing speed, but has gotten a step faster. We think he can be a very productive player. Is he going to put up the numbers Pat did; probably not for a couple of reasons. He won't get the ball as much and he's a different type of player.

DJ McNorton: “I'd love to have it on my shoulders. I'm comfortable with that.”

Junior Matt Voitlander, who played fullback last year but is back at tailback, and is very talented in his own right, will get most of the carries that don't go McNorton's way. But it appears to be McNorton's opportunity to seize when the season begins.

Head Coach Craig Bohl says he'll have an updated depth chart tomorrow. The first FCS coach’s poll came out today. Defending national champ Villanova takes the top spot, but three Missouri Valley teams are in the top 25, Southern Illinois, SDSU, and Northern Iowa.