Photos by Joe Kerlin and J. Alan Paul Photography
The buzz around spring football practice this past month came from the three guys in the red jerseys. With the graduation of four-year starter Keaton Studsrud, the Fighting Hawks are letting the three quarterbacks on campus duke it out for the starting job. According to the coaches, as the battle gets closer, the energy around the team grows. We won’t find out who will take the first snap against Mississippi Valley State until August, so for now, let’s take a look at the horses in the QB race.
Nate Ketteringham #8
- Redshirt Junior
- San Diego, California
- Centennial High School
- Sacramento State University
Injuries to three Sacramento State quarterbacks forced Nate Ketteringham into five starts for the Hornets in 2015. The following season, he took over as the starter after the first game and finished out the regular season with 13 touchdown passes and just under 2,000 yards passing. Last fall, Ketteringham was on the North Dakota scout team, prepping the Fighting Hawks defense for what they will see against their next opponent.
“His ability to play in a really good football system in the state of California where he played in a pro style and won a state title, and then you play in a different system at Sac State, but he got a chance to play and to learn, and he got a chance to understand how defenses do things. Now, he’s just moved into our system and he’s a very intelligent. As good as his arm is, I don’t want that to be his only strong attribute. He has a great brain also.” – Paul Rudolph
Andrew Zimmerman #10
- Monroe, Washington
- Monroe High School
- Eastern Washington, Fresno City College
Like Nate Ketteringham, North Dakota wasn’t Andrew Zimerman’s first choice out of high school. He spent a season redshirting for Eastern Washington in 2015 before bouncing to Fresno City College and starting six games in the 2016 campaign. He threw 17 touchdowns and earned a spot on the North Dakota roster last year. He made four appearances for the Fighting Hawks while backing up Keaton Studsrud in 2017. Zimmerman was 21-for-41 passing, including three TDs through the air.
“Andrew has an advantage just being in the system. I was talking to him yesterday and telling him, if you were to compare where you were last spring at this time, to where you are at this time this spring, it’s light years apart. Last year, he would have been behind where Brock is at right now on the learning curve. It didn’t come easy for him, but he’s worked at it. He spent so much time studying and working and now it’s almost moved into a second nature deal.” – Paul Rudolph
Brock Boltmann #4
- Redshirt Freshman
- Edina, Minnesota
- Edina High School
The 2016 Minnesota Viking All-State Team member Brock Boltmann is seen as an outsider in the quarterback competition, but he didn’t treat spring practice like it’s over. The redshirt freshman hasn’t played a collegiate down like his two teammates, but he’s handled his business like a veteran, according to his coaches.
“I think those upperclassmen understand defenses a little more at this point and have that experience, but Brock makes up for that with his play-making ability.” – Danny Freund
Offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph is conducting an old-fashioned quarterback competition this offseason.
Here are two traits he wants to see from the winner:
1 – Intelligence: Knowledge of offense and decision-making
1A – Arm Accuracy
Wide receiver coach Danny Freund was a two-year starter at quarterback for North Dakota in 2007 and 2008. He has experienced his share of competition within the QB room. Here are his tips for the quarterbacks competing for the starting job.
- Focus on improving yourself
- Don’t look at the depth chart
- Build on strengths
- Recognize weakness and work on them
Head coach Bubba Schweigert is leading the Fighting Hawks in a two-year transition from the Big Sky to the Missouri Valley Football Conference. He’s especially keen on finding the right quarterback to lead the charge.
“We want them to make it a tough decision and they are. This will continue throughout the summer and fall camp… They’re competing hard and working really hard so that’s helping our football team.”