BY ROB LAPLANTE
When you put yourself in a very short list that includes the name Matt Spaeth on it, you know you’re in good company.
That’s what St. Michael-Albertville senior linebacker/fullback Bennie Wilson did last week when he announced he would play football next season for North Dakota State University.
The Bison play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and Wilson joins Spaeth as the only two STMA football players to play football at a Division-I school. Spaeth is an STMA 2002 graduate who played four years at the University of Minnesota (2003-07) and is currently a Tight End for the Chicago Bears.
Wilson worked out last summer with the Bison during a summer camp and said he was impressed with what he saw.
“Regardless if I was going to get a full scholarship or walk on, I knew after I went up for camp I wanted to be there,” Wilson said. “What really got me was the community. They are really big up there in Fargo. The Bison community loves football and that’s big. That’s where I want to be.”
STMA head coach Jared Essler and sophomore defensive coordinator Jayd Kittelson know a thing or two about Bison football. Essler graduated in 2003 from NDSU and lettered three seasons as a standout free safety and Kittelson graduated in 2004 as a standout linebacker. Essler said he’s thrilled to have coached one of his players to the next level.
“I’m not going to second guess him on his college decision,” said a smiling Essler. “I’m real excited and happy for Bennie. He’s going to do great.”
Wilson has been a stalwart on both sides of the ball this season for the Knights. He ranks second on the team with 22 solo tackles. He also has two sacks and has rushed for three touchdowns as a fullback.
“I actually went up there for camp trying out for defense,” said the 5-foot-11, 235 pound Wilson. “Up there, you have to have an offense and defensive position and I went out for fullback and coach (Craig Bohl) liked what he saw and we’ve been in touch ever since.”
Wilson will play his freshman season at NDSU as a preferred walk on, meaning he will not have a scholarship, but will have a guaranteed roster spot.