Little-remembered fact: Brock Jensen wasn't NDSU's first choice at QB
Quick quiz for North Dakota State football fans:
Bison head coach Craig Bohl made the following statements regarding a recent recruiting class. Can you attach the statements to the year to which he was referring, or the player to whom he was referring?
“We are certainly excited about the class that we have signed. Since I have been the head coach I think this is the most talented football class that we have signed.”
“The quarterback that we signed is an awfully talented player.”
Given the results of the past two seasons, I’m guessing most Bison fans thought about the 2010 recruiting class (Travis Beck, Ryan Smith, Grant Olson, Billy Turner, Zach Vraa, Colten Heagle and many more) after reading the first quote and Brock Jensen (no explanation necessary) after reading the second.
Wrong, and wrong.
Both quotes were uttered by Bohl on Feb. 6, 2008, when the Bison signed 16 high school athletes and one junior-college transfer to letters of intent. The star quarterback of the day was a young man from California named Jose Mohler.
In addition to Mohler, the 2008 class included players such as Josh Horner, Austin Vetter, Hakeem Bourne-McFarlane, Isaac Kolstad, Ricky Hagen, J.J. Manowske, Greg Reid, Kevin Jackson and … well, you get the idea. Other than offensive linemen Joe Lund, there were not many names today’s Bison fans would recognize.
As for Mohler, he did not turn out to be the next Steve Walker, as was hoped. After an undistinguished few years in Fargo, Jose transferred to Division II Central Washington and played one season there.
The point: Beware of anything you read, hear or see on Feb. 6, which is national signing day 2013. Coaches will always say they are pleased with their recruits, and they very well might always be. The media depend on the college coach or the player’s high school coach for information and evaluation, so it is unlikely reporters will get anything other than rainbows and unicorns. As for “recruiting services” or “gurus,” well, yeah.
We just don’t know. There are too many variables, too much subjectivity, too many 18-year-old bodies and minds involved to know for sure. That’s just the way it is.
Take, for instance, a quarterback signed by the Bison on Feb. 4, 2009. His name is Brock Jensen and, after two consecutive national championships that have elevated NDSU football to a level unimaginable 10 years ago, many Bison fans are ready to anoint him to “greatest quarterback in NDSU history” status.
Here’s a little-remembered fact about Jensen: He was not NDSU’s top quarterback recruit that year and, in fact, had to wait until another QB turned down the Bison before he was offered a scholarship.
Does anybody in Bison Nation remember the name A.J. Westendorp? He was a quarterback from Holland, Mich., who was coveted by the Bison. Westendorp turned down NDSU and signed with Central Michigan. He might have been a great QB for NDSU, but has not had an illustrious career at Central Michigan. After playing in just three games as a QB (one completion, four attempts, two interceptions) he moved to tight end in 2012. (Academically, Westendorp is an all-star. He has a 3.96 GPA in biology/biomedical science.)
It wasn’t until Westendorp chose Central Michigan that Bison coaches offered a scholarship to Jensen. According to an article by Jeff Kolpack of The Forum, if NDSU hadn’t offered Jensen he likely would’ve ended up at Minnesota-Duluth. There just wasn’t much Division I interest, aside from walk-on offers at Wisconsin and Eastern Illinois.
Digging through The Forum’s archives, I could find only one Bohl quote about Jensen prior to spring ball in 2010 when the redshirt came off and Brock began to compete for the starting job. It went thusly: “He’s a very accurate passer.”
That was the extent of media evaluation about one of the greatest quarterbacks in Bison history.
We just don’t know. Nobody does.