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Kava, Hoggarth make dreams a reality by being a part of Bison football signing day

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FARGO—The photo is a cherished memory on Jake Kava's phone, taken not long after one of the more prominent throws and receptions in North Dakota State football history. The fact Carson Wentz threw it makes it all the more valuable.

Kava had a front row seat to the 18-yard touchdown play with 35 seconds remaining that beat Northern Iowa 31-28 in a game that ultimately decided the Missouri Valley Football Conference title in 2015. Kava was the Bison ball boy and Wentz is now an NFL Pro Bowl quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

On Wednesday, Kava officially joined the program in another capacity: as a player.

"Just being around NDSU, it's been crazy to see all the success," Kava said. "And now to come full circle and to be able to represent and play for them is a dream come true."

The same goes for Fargo Oak Grove running back Ben Hoggarth, who also signed as a preferred walkon on Wednesday. That officially happened on a third floor conference room at Jackson Hall on the Oak Grove campus.

Two players from local private high schools. The start of two quests to someday see the field for the premier program in Division I FCS football. It was a day to remember for both.

"Ever since I started putting on pads, it's always been what I wanted to do," Hoggarth said. "I was ready to go play there without being a (preferred) walkon. I'm ready to go do whatever I have to do."

Hoggarth, 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, rushed for 1,818 yards and 20 touchdowns this fall. As a linebacker on defense, he totaled 133 tackles.

He said NDSU initially wants him as a running back, but he said he'll play wherever they want him. The 6-2, 210-pound Kava will start his Bison career as a linebacker, where he had 312 career tackles at Shanley.

"They grew up wanting to be Bison," said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. "They grew up seeing all the great coverage, watching it on TV or hearing about it on the news. They want to be part of this."

Kava got his ball boy job by being friends with Devin Klieman, the head coach's son. He was there when Wentz hurt his thumb against the University of South Dakota that sidelined him for eight games.

So when Easton Stick took over for Wentz as the starting quarterback, among Wentz's many tasks as a student coach of sorts was to check the footballs before games.

"Carson would come up to me before every game and check the footballs that Easton was throwing," Kava said. "I was in charge, so it was pretty cool to have Carson Wentz come up to me."