Tucked up in the "Peace Garden State," North Dakota State might not have had the best season in 2006 – the finished 2-7 – but they have two very talented players and a player that Division-one schools will be all over in 2007. 

Offensive coordinator Mike Shafer sat down recently with and talked about his two standouts on offense.

"Brian McNeill has been great for us this year," Shafer said.  "He split time with Jerome Messam most of this year, but he started the last four games and he was amazing for us.

"He finished with 198 carries for 1,286 yards and 11 touchdowns, but in three of the last four games he started, he had almost 800 yards.  He rushed for 300 (vs. William Rainey Harper), 198 (vs. Ellsworth) and 275 (vs. Iowa Central).  He can run inside or outside.  He's been very durable for us.

"He'll remind a lot of people of (current Atlanta Falcons RB) Warrick Dunn in the way he runs and his toughness."

McNeill, who goes 5-9, 185 and sports a legit 4.35 forty time, has heard from several Division one programs recently and while he doesn't have an offer at this point, Shafer said things are getting closer for him.

"Arizona has been all over him because they told him they wanted a JC-back," Shafer said.  "He's also hearing a lot from Minnesota, Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, Houston, TCU and Eastern Michigan – they said they really liked what they saw with him."

According to Shafer, McNeill is a quite sort who takes care of his business on the field and doesn't talk a lot off of it. 

"He grew up in Philadelphia, but his mom ended up getting a job up here so he transferred up here and then came here after high school," Shafer said.  "He could have transferred to a Pennsylvania JC when his mom decided to go back, but he stayed here and we've been really happy about that.

"Whoever gets him will be getting a back that is just starting to tap what potential he has.  He's only tapped about 50-percent of it right now.  He's going to be really good and make someone very happy they got him." 

Shafer also has a standout player on his offensive line in Blake Ogletree (6-4, 330). 

Ogletree isn't just a big man, he's also a big-time player who was offered by Illinois out of high school, but he failed to get a qualifying SAT or ACT score so he too joined the Wildcats.

"He's a really athletic guy who is playing tackle for us right now, but he'll probably end up at guard at a four-year school," Shafer said.  "He has really quick feet and he runs a 5.3 so he can get out on guys in space when he needs to.  He's also really fiery and gets after people.  He's been an anchor for us there."

Ogletree, like McNeill, doesn't have any offers yet, but things have begun to heat up for him as well.

"Texas A&M contacted him in May, but now he's hearing mainly from New Mexico, Minnesota, Kansas and Houston," Shafer said.  "He's a great kid and good leader.  He's going to be a good one too."

One other player that Shafer said will be a divison-one recruit is a freshman offensive lineman, Ricky Henry.

"He committed to Nebraska out of high school but he didn't get a good ACT score so he ended up here and we couldn't be happier about it," Shafer said.  "He was rated as one of the top centers in the country last year, but he plays guard and tackle for us. 

"He could play almost anywhere on the line so that makes him very valuable.  He'll be a guy who gets a ton of offers next year."



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