Bison TE Noah Gindorff still managing injury, but healthy enough to make a difference
NDSU's sixth-year senior was team's leading receiver against Drake
FARGO — The injury suffered last December took longer than expected to heal for North Dakota State tight end Noah Gindorff. But the Bison senior was back doing what he does best on Saturday afternoon: blocking, receiving and scoring.
The 6-foot-6, 268-pound Gindorff was noticeable in the NDSU running game and caught a touchdown pass in the 56-14 win over Drake University (Iowa) at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. His 24-yard reception was prototypical Gindorff in the manner he ran over two Bulldog defensive backs.
He led the Bison with three receptions for 44 yards and was the most targeted NDSU receiver.
“I know that wasn’t in the initial plan,” Bison cornerback Bison defensive end Jake Kava said of Gindorff being back in a Bison uniform, “but selfishly as a guy who came back here, absolutely thrilled to have Noah back.”
Gindorff suffered a broken fibula and damage to his ankle ligaments in an FCS second round win over Southern Illinois last December. A defensive tackle fell on Gindorff while he was in the process of blocking another player.
He sat out spring football and the first two weeks of practice in August, the latter more of a precautionary measure in that the sixth-year senior was already well-versed in the playbook.
“Just being back out there was a really awesome feeling,” Gindorff said. “Just to get this first game out of the way and knock some of the rust off. To find the end zone was a bonus and it was a fun game to play in for sure.”
He continued his spectacular catch-to-touchdown ratio. He’ll head into next Saturday’s home game against North Carolina A&T with 42 career receptions and 13 touchdowns. NDSU plays at Arizona on Sept. 17 before beginning Missouri Valley Football Conference play the following week.
“I feel like every good defensive coordinator in the Missouri Valley had a panic attack … like damn, Gindorff is back,” Kava said. “The injury sucks but you can turn that into a positive and get even better so that next year when the NFL comes calling he’ll be even more ready.”
Gindorff was scheduled to begin working out for the NFL Draft after last season ended. He was invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Jan. 29 in Pasadena, Calif., and was hoping for an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl or the Senior Bowl.
The injury derailed those thoughts by a year.
“Obviously things happen for a reason and plans change,” Gindorff said, “but I’m just going to make the most of my opportunities while I’m here, go out and make plays for my team. That’s what I’m going to do here.”
It’s possible Gindorff could be more of a featured receiver with departed senior receiver Christian Watson and tight end Josh Babicz in the NFL.
NDSU head coach Matt Entz said after the Drake game that Gindorff has “had to battle that ankle” and it has yet to get to 100 percent health. The Bison continue to manage the issue by not having him practice every day.
Moreover, Gindorff took it upon himself to mentor younger tight ends like Finn Diggins and Joe Stoffel.
“Thank goodness he’s a sixth-year senior because he knows the playbook,” Entz said. “But you saw him again in the red zone, DBs bouncing off him. I’m really excited for him and once we understand how he needs to manage that ankle he’s going to continue to get better. Gotta get him in better game shape probably.”
Gindorff wasn’t the only Bison player to return from an ankle injury and make a difference. Running back Dominic Gonnella, who missed six games last season, showed the same burst of speed he did early last season. He had 47 yards on six carries averaging 7.2 yards per attempt.
“He’s tremendous, anyone who plays professional baseball as a hobby and plays college football is a pretty talented young man,” Entz said. “To have him back at 100%, you talk about our running back room, there are a lot of guys who can help us win ball games. It’s fun to see those guys embrace being great without the ball because there is only one of them out there.”