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Friendly Competition

After a competitive fall, the UND quarterbacks brought out the best in one another. But who will be the starting quarterback?

Friendly competition with quarterback

Photo by Hillary Ehlen

Feature photo: Nate Ketteringham, Andrew Zimmerman and Brock Boltmann

After a competitive fall, the UND quarterbacks brought out the best in one another.

It is a common conundrum that stretches across the game of football: who will be the starting quarterback?

North Dakota faced that very question coming into the 2018 season. With the graduation of perennial starter Keaton Studsrud, the position had been left vacant since the 2017 season ended. While there were three worthy contenders vying for the position, they do not see it as such. Yes, there was a competition between the trio, but it remained friendly, and each is open to learning from the others.

Junior Andrew Zimmerman, Redshirt junior Nate Ketteringham and redshirt freshman Brock Boltmann all wanted to take to the first snap against Mississippi Valley State on August 30. Ultimately, it was Ketteringham who won the job. All three, according to offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph, bring something different to the table. They also have things to improve upon in 2018.

“Brock has the innate ability to stand in the pocket and get away from the defense and step out of trouble to make a play,” Rudolph said. Boltmann sat out last season due to redshirt. He made his way to Grand Forks thanks to a tremendous high school career in Edina, Minnesota. Boltmann accumulated over 4,000 career yards and 32 total touchdowns in his career at Edina High School.

As for the others, Rudolph saw promise, in both Ketteringham and Zimmerman, who have collegiate experience. “Nate has a tremendous skill set from a quarterback standpoint,” he said. “But we still need to see that consistency from him.” The redshirt junior also sat out last season after transferring from Sacramento State. Ketteringham started 16 games in his Sacramento State career, throwing for 3,391 yards and 24 touchdowns.

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“Andrew has done a fantastic job of taking on a leadership role,” Rudolph said. “We’re still looking for the consistency, but he’s become a great leader.” Zimmerman is the lone North Dakota quarterback to have experience under center as a Fighting Hawk before 2018. He played in relief of Keaton Studsrud in four games in 2017. In those games, he threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns. While he does feature the game experience, he feels that does not matter.

“My face is known a little bit more, but I knew I had to come in and establish myself which I feel I have done for the last eight months,” he said. “People respected Keaton because he came out, put his head down and went to work. I’m just going to try and lead how I lead and hope it works.”

Despite there being clear competition between one another, Zimmerman says it has not changed their relationship with each other. Nor does it change his mindset after not winning the job. “Going through this, to be honest, I’ve been through it before. When competing with guys, my philosophy on it is just to work and keep working. It’s all I can do,” he said. “We get along, we learn from each other and we ask questions. It comes down to me just going to work as hard as I can. I bet they would say the same thing, but it has worked for me before.”

All three possess the leadership qualities needed to be a starting quarterback. However, each has a different definition of the word. For Zimmerman, it comes down to being a servant. “It comes down to servant leadership and love. You just have to love your guys and lead by example and do things for them,” he said. “I don’t think I would ever try to get on someone without telling them I believe in them and that we’ll get through this together.”

One quality rings true between the three, they want to set 2017 aside and move forward. In Zimmerman’s opinion, the team needs to keep reminding themselves of last year in an attempt to improve. “You try to forget it, but I think every time we’ve met I’ve mentioned how we went 3-8 last year,” he said. “That has to be something that moves you forward. I think it’s still in the back of our minds, but we failed last year, plain and simple. Hopefully, that lets us push guys, and I think it has.”

While any of these three could have won the starting job, there is a bond built between them all. Regardless of the fact that Ketteringham has started all three games, the other two were on the sidelines, ready to give pointers to the one on the field. In the end, the three are focused on the success of the team and not themselves.

Nate Ketteringham In 2018

  • Three Games
  • 2-1 Record
  • 510 Passing Yards
  • 4 Passing Touchdowns
  • 73 Rushing Yards
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  • 2 Rushing Touchdowns
  • 0 Interceptions

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Written by Nolan Schmidt

Nolan is the Editor of Fighting Hawks Magazine. He is originally from Bismarck, ND and is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead. Outside of work, Nolan loves to write fiction short stories, among other things.

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