BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — After falling just 2 points short of a national championship in a year unlike any other, there’s a unique bond within the 2021 Jackrabbits football team.
“There’s a different culture, a different feeling, a different closeness to this group of guys and I’m sure it stems a little bit from what they’ve gone through both with Covid and the success we had in the spring. So, I just think it’s a real close group of young men,” SDSU Head Coach John Stiegelmeier said.
While the quick turn around from spring season to fall has been a new adjustment, the Jacks offense has hit the ground running.
“We didn’t get too relaxed,” starting wideout Jaxon Jankie stated. “We’re all very knowledgeable of the offense and the defense and what’s going on and that’s what I think is the reason why we’ve had such a quick jump into fall camp and we’re doing so well now is because of the short off-season.”
The SDSU offense returns all 11 starters from a season ago, but with former starting signal caller Mark Grownoski lost for the season with a knee injury, The starting job is up for grabs between grad transfer Chris Oladokun and Keeton Heide.
“Chris has been playing amazing making some really really good throws during practice and I think him coming here is pushing Keaton to get better as well as their kind of battling each other for that starting spot,” Starting Linebacker Logan Backhaus said.
And although he’s only been apart of the program for 2 months, oladokun has made quite the impression.
“I’ve been amazed at how he’s embraced his role, embraced South Dakota State football. He’s a very good leader, very engaging individual and so, I think its been easy for us and easy for him,” Stiegelmeier said.
“I’m just blessed and grateful to be apart of this culture. The guys have really embraced me whether it’s going out to eat or inviting me over their house to watch a basketball game, or something like that. I’ve really appreciated it so, it has been really good,” SDSU Quarterback Chris Oladokun said.
The Jackrabbits open the season at Colorado State on September 3rd.
In Brookings, Tanner Castora, Keloland News.