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College Football: Gindorff hoping to make splash in senior season

Former Crosby-Ironton Ranger Noah Gindorff is ready for a big senior season as a tight end for the North Dakota State University Bison football team.

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Tight end Noah Gindorff rumbles through the defense during a game last spring for the North Dakota State University Bison football team. The former Crosby-Ironton Ranger is in his senior season for the Bison. Contributed by Tim Sanger / NDSU Athletics

Noah Gindorff is hesitant to talk about life after North Dakota State University.

That’s not to say the redshirt senior tight end for the Bison football team hasn’t thought about one day playing in the NFL.

At 6-foot-6, 266 pounds, Gindorff has the size to compete at the next level. He’s a 2020-21 Missouri Valley Football Conference second-team All-Academic, a Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award winner and has been an MVFC Honor Roll student every year since he joined the Bison back in the fall of 2017 so brains aren’t a problem.

It’s because of his intelligence Gindorff knows the only answer to the question “Do you think you’ll get drafted?” is simple.

“Right now, I’m just trying to focus on this season and having a good fall,” Gindorff said during a break at training camp this week. "All that stuff will take care of itself if I just go out and play like I’m capable of playing. I try not to look too far ahead. I know it’s creeping up here. It feels like it’s a long ways away, but if you look at it, it’s not. It’s coming right around the corner. I still have some time so I’m just trying to stay locked in while I’m still here."

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Heading into his senior season Gindorff was selected to the HERO Sports FCS Preseason All-America second team. He was named to the Stats Perform FCS Preseason All-America second team. He was also named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference second team by the league’s media, head coaches and sports information directors.

And while all preseason lists agreed Gindorff needed to be on the list, none of the three selected the same player at the No. 1 position.

“Obviously, the postseason is more important than the preseason,” Gindorff said. “It would be nice to get that recognition that I feel like I deserve, but at the end of the day, I’d rather have it at the end of the year instead of the start of the year. If I just go out and play like I know that I’m capable of and prove it to everyone else, all that will take care of itself.

“I just want to push myself to be the best player that I can be and the best leader I can be for our position group with the tight ends as well as for the whole team. If I just go out and play like I want to play all the accolades and recognition and stuff will take care of itself. I can look in the mirror and say I’m a good player. I don’t really need somebody else to tell me that."

RELATED: College Football: Gindorff watch
Of the three tight ends selected ahead of Gindorff, the Crosby-Ironton High School graduate will only get to see South Dakota State University’s Zach Heins during the regular season.

In fact, it’s SDSU that NDSU is predicted to finish behind in the MVFC standings. In the Stats Perform FCS preseason Top 25, SDSU is ranked No. 3. James Madison is No. 2 and Sam Houston is No. 1. The Bison are the No. 4 ranked team.

“Championships are always our goal here and that starts with a conference championship,” Gindorff said. “Right now, we’re not trying to look too far ahead. We’re trying to take camp one day at a time and just keep stacking good days on top of good days.”

Again, Gindorff is only focused on this season, but it wasn’t too long ago No. 87 was running routes in a COVID-19 forced spring season. The quick turnaround to a traditional fall season is somewhat of a blessing for Gindorff and the Bison after an early exit from the playoffs last year.

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Last year, Gindorff earned second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference as he played in all 10 games, including starting eight of those games. He was NDSU’s third-leading receiver with 11 catches for 85 yards and three touchdowns. He was also a key blocker in the NDSU rushing offense that was 10th in the FCS and second in the MVFC with an average of 218.4 yards per game.

“Honestly, (going from spring to fall) hasn’t been too difficult,” Gindorff said. “Transitioning to the spring season was tough, but this summer, once we were able to get back to a normal routine of the summer and now a normal fall camp, things seem to be getting back to normal. I think a lot of guys on the team appreciate that.

RELATED: Athletics: Longtime voice of C-I Rangers sets down his mic
“We took a few weeks in order to hit that reset button, but I think a lot of the guys had a sour taste in their mouth so we were chomping at the bit to get back.”

Gindorff had a breakout sophomore season where he caught 10 passes with six going for touchdowns. His first five receptions all went for touchdowns. It wasn’t until the sixth reception that he was finally tackled.

“My first five catches in our first five games all went for touchdowns,” Gindorff said. “I remember we were playing South Dakota State and I ran an out route and got tackled after a 4-yard gain. I jogged off to the sideline and everyone was laughing and saying the streak was finally over. That was a really fun season and obviously getting to score touchdowns is really fun.”

What often goes overlooked is Gindorff never played tight end in high school. He was a quarterback and defensive end for the Rangers. The transition didn’t immediately stick, but it didn’t take him long.

“I can even remember my second spring ball, so after my redshirt freshman year, it sort of felt like a switch flipped and the game really slowed down and all of a sudden everything started to fall into place,” Gindorff said. ”That turned into good route running and good blocking. I think it just came together really well. I had a really good spring ball and it transitioned into the fall of 2019. I earned a big role on the team and I’ve just been able to run with that ever since.”

Of Gindorff’s 21 career receptions, nine have gone for scores. He has 255 total yards for a 12.1 yards per reception average.

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Also during his sophomore season, Gindorff teamed with Josh Babicz and Ben Ellefson to combine for 37 catches, 561 yards and 16 touchdowns while helping the Bison rush for a school-record 4,601 yards.

RELATED: College Football: Gindorff watch
It’s Ellefson who Gindorff talks to most about what’s next. Ellefson, a Hawley High School graduate, is on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster.

“I’ve had several conversations with Ben about just what it’s like," Gindorff said. "He’s doing really well down there. It’s cool to see him succeed. It’s nice to see that if he can do it I should be able to do it. We’re coming from the same system. We are similar in a lot of ways. To see somebody else at my position get that recognition that they deserve, I kind of feel like it should be my turn next.”

Whatever may happen following the 2021 college football season, Gindorff will graduate with an accounting degree and a finance minor in December. He’s bulked up from his 235 freshman year to 266 pounds and he’s won three national championships in his college career so far. Whatever happens next, Gindorff will be prepared.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Noah Gindorff

Year: Senior

Position: Tight End

College: North Dakota State University

High school: Crosby-Ironton

Height: 6-6

Weight: 266

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Noah Gindorff

Gindorff Mug.jpg
Noah Gindorff

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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