It may seem strange to feel under appreciated when you play football for the third time defending national champions, but there is a sense of that going on this spring with North Dakota State.
The reason for that is the Bison graduated 24-seniors off of the latest title team and that gives the impression to some that the Bison have a bunch of holes to fill and that a fourth-championship may not be in the works.
"That definitely puts a chip on your shoulder when people look at you like we're going to be under achievers, or we're not going to live up to the classes before us, but it's just more motivation for us. No matter the year you are going to have to reload at certain position some years more than others, but get got to go about things the same every spring, every fall it's the same formula every year," says NDSU linebacker Esley Thorton.
It's obviously a formula that works, but it's a formula that will be led by a number of different coaches.
With a new head coach and new coordinators, veterans like Esley are counted on to be leaders for their teammates, especially this spring, because so many upperclassmen are recovering from injuries.
"It's definitely a different role than when I first came in the older guys were in my class. Grant, Carlton and Travis, but I was kind of the new guy switching positions. Now, I'm kind of the most experience guy now that Carlton and Travis are out. I'm just trying to help out those younger guys as much as I can," says Thorton.
The Bison spring game is on April 26.