The Playmakers

Copious amounts of playmakers are what drive the North Dakota offense forward.

The football playmakers

Photo by Hillary Ehlen

Copious amounts of playmakers are what drive the North Dakota offense. It is with the help of these tremendous athletes that the Fighting Hawks were able to upend perennial FCS power Sam Houston State. They look to pace the offense as the 2018 campaign trucks along.

#31 Noah Wanzek

Junior – Jamestown, ND
6’4″, 210 lbs

Although the quarterback situation was undecided, all three quarterbacks in contention have found a common target. Junior Noah Wanzek was the most successful wide receiver for the Fighting Hawks in 2017. In both his freshman and sophomore seasons, Wanzek has caught at least 25 balls. He is sure to amass his 2017 totals by a decent number in 2018.

Stat Check: Wanzek In 2017

Receptions (team-high): 52

Receiving Yards: 648
Receiving Touchdowns: 5
100-Yard Receiving Games: 3

Wanzek In 2018

Reception: 12
Receiving Yards: 146
Receiving Touchdowns: 1

#5 Brady Oliveira

Senior – Winnipeg, MB
5’10”, 220 lbs

Starting in his freshman season in 2015, Oliveira proved his value to the Fighting Hawks coaching staff. He was second on the team in rushing yards that season and now makes up one of the most loaded backfields in FCS. The tandem of Oliveira and John Santiago has proven to give defenses fits over the past three seasons. There is no reason to believe that will change in 2018.

Stat check: Oliveira In 2017

Rushing Yards: 637
Rushing Touchdowns: 3

Yards Per Rushing Attempt: 5.7
Career Rushing Touchdowns: 14

Oliveira In 2018

Rushing Yards: 171
Rushing Touchdowns: 1
Yards Per Rushing Attempt: 5.7

#33 James Johannesson

Junior – Fargo, ND
6’1″, 250 lbs

The former Fargo South standout has proven to be a tough-to-tackle running back for UND. His 250-pound frame makes him a valuable fullback as well as a player that can make plays with the football. After coming to Grand Forks from the University of Minnesota, Johannesson made an immediate impact in 2017. He will likely see plenty of time at the fullback position in 2018 and should accumulate a healthy amount of rushing touchdowns too.

Stat Check: Johannesson In 2017

Rushing Yards: 248
Rushing Touchdowns: 4
Longest Run: 56 yards
Yards Per Rushing Attempt: 6

Johannesson In 2018

Rushing Yards: 84
Rushing Touchdowns: 1
Yards Per Rushing Attempt: 4.9

#81 Luke Stanley

Senior – Menomonie, WI
6’4″, 235 lbs

Stanley missed his 2017 campaign due to injury, however, his promising 2016 season leads many to believe that he could become a top target in 2018. Even in his redshirt freshman season in 2015, Stanley led the team in receiving yards, touchdowns and shared the team lead in receptions.

Stat Check: Stanley In 2016

Receptions: 26
Receiving Yards: 381
Receiving Touchdowns: 2

Stanley has not yet seen any game action in 2018 due to injury. There is optimism he may return by the middle of the season.

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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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