While Trey Lance is the headliner for North Dakota State’s lone football game this fall, the quarterback’s top protector will have his moment on stage Saturday when the Bison meet Central Arkansas in the Fargodome.
Dillon Radunz, a senior left tackle from Becker, Minn., will play his only game of the 2020-21 campaign before skipping the Bison’s eight-game Missouri Valley Conference spring schedule to prepare for the NFL draft. He’s doing so with no regrets.
“I feel good with where I’m at and the decisions I’m making,” said Radunz, a two-year starter for the three-time defending FCS champions. “I don’t think I’m losing out on much because I still have this Bison family. … Yeah, it’d be awesome to play more games with these guys, but it’s part of God’s plan and part of the way things ended up being.”
Radunz is a 6-6, 299-pound blocker who didn’t allow a sack last year on his way to consensus FCS All-America honors. Dubbed by Becker coach Dwight Lundeen as the best player he’s coached in his 50-year career, Radunz has the attention of NFL scouts, and Jim Nagy, executive director of the Senior Bowl, believes he has first-round potential. Nagy tweeted that Radunz would be his first choice among non-quarterbacks in the 2021 draft.
Radunz is taking the attention in stride.
“Once fall camp hit, you shut it off. You let other people deal with it,” he said. “ … We were able to get back in that college mode as we scheduled that one last game. I don’t want to say it’s like being a kid again, but you get to be with your friends again. I’m going to enjoy every last bit of this.”
One reason why is that Radunz will have a chance to play with his brother, Nick, a junior offensive guard on the second team.
“Very excited for it. First and foremost, my mom [Kathy] is always our biggest supporter, so telling her the season was canceled, I got yelled at more by her because of her emotions,” Dillon said. “Then when I told her it was back on and we got to play one more game, it was another yelling spree. She was just so happy. Seeing her two boys play football together is just huge for her.”
Dillon will have those emotions, too, when he steps on NDSU turf one last time.
“I think I’ll cry a few times — tears of joy,” he said.