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Stan Becton | | January 29, 2022

We picked the top-5 players all-time for North Dakota State football

North Dakota State's football dynasty

The North Dakota State football dynasty has had nine FCS championships since 2011 and has seen a multitude of great players wear the green and gold. With all of the team success, here’s a look at the top individual players in Bison history.

The top-5 players all-time for North Dakota State football

*North Dakota State joined the FCS in 2004. This list looks at players since that season*

1. QB Easton Stick

The first player on the all-time North Dakota State team is Easton Stick. Stick is North Dakota State’s all-time leader in passing yards (8,693) and passing touchdowns (88). Stick also has three championship rings (2015, 2017 and 2018). While he did not start the 2015 championship game, the Bison would not have made it there without him; he filled in for an injured Carson Wentz midseason, winning multiple playoff games. Stick’s contributions in a backup role combined with his role as a starter earn him a spot on the Bison all-time team.

🏆: A complete history of North Dakota State championships

2. QB Brock Jensen

In 52 starts, Brock Jensen was the quarterback to start the North Dakota State dynasty. Jensen was the starting quarterback of the first three Bison national championship teams, ending his career with a three-peat. Jensen also sat atop numerous passing categories when his college career ended; his 34 passing touchdowns in 2013 are a North Dakota State single-season record.

3. DE Kyle Emanuel

Despite immense team success, North Dakota State players struggle to win individual awards. Just two Bison have ever won the Walter Payton or Buck Buchanan Award in program history and Kyle Emanuel was the first to do so, taking home the 2014 Buchanan Award as the best defensive player in the FCS. Emanuel is the North Dakota State all-time leader in tackles for loss (58.5) and is tied for the school record for sacks (35.5). Emanuel has a claim as the best defender in Bison history and he gets a spot on this list.

CHAMPS: North Dakota State wins the 2021 FCS Championship

4. WR Zach Vraa

Zach Vraa is North Dakota State’s all-time leading receiver with 195 catches for 2,957 yards and 28 touchdowns. Vraa’s Bison career is unique as he spent six seasons in the Bison uniform after multiple collar bone injuries. Vraa was pivotal in the early years of the Bison dynasty, making big postseason catches once he recovered from injury in 2012. Vraa’s best season came in 2013, catching 67 passes for 1,191 yards and 15 touchdowns; he also averaged 17.9 yards per catch en route to first-team all-conference honors.

5. RB John Crockett

John Crockett finished his career with 4,309 career rushing yards and 41 rushing touchdowns, good for second and sixth-most in Bison history, respectively. Crockett’s 2014 season was undoubtedly his best; he ran for 1,994 yards and 21 touchdowns, adding 397 yards receiving. As the lead back, Crockett help the Bison win their fourth-straight championship. He ended his North Dakota State career with three rings.

DYNASTY: 11 numbers to know about North Dakota State football's historic run

Let’s take a look at some of the notable omissions from the list.

Notable Omissions

The two highest draft picks in Bison history, Wentz and Lance, fail to make the list because they didn’t play enough games in the Bison uniform. The trio of offensive lineman, while dominant, don’t have the counting stats and thus, the same impact as the other players on the list. Marcus Williams just missed the cut, but with seven career interceptions returned for touchdowns, he too had a fantastic Bison career.

HISTORY: Schools with the most FCS titles | 9 winningest FCS programs all time | Championship history

Here’s a look at some of the current Bison who could break into the top-5 when their careers are finished.

Who could be next

Hunter Luepke

Hunter Luepke's 2021 FCS playoff performance is one to be remembered. Luepke scored six total touchdowns in the postseason, including three rushing touchdowns in the championship game. If Luepke can build off his remarkable postseason run, he could find himself on this list.

Michael Tutsie

Safety Michael Tutsie has been elite since taking over as a starter. In his sophomore season, he had 105 tackles and seven interceptions. With two years of eligibility remaining, Tutsie has a chance to finish atop the all-time tackles and interceptions list; he'll likely finish top-5 in both categories. As Tutsie climbs the record books, he'll also climb the list of all-time North Dakota State players.

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