On Saturday, the always-formidable North Dakota State Bison will square off against Central Arkansas in their only contest of the fall. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Trey Lance, a potential top-15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, will garner most of the headlines, but the Bison could produce a pair of first-round selections. Among the nation’s premier offensive linemen, NDSU tackle Dillon Radunz has been a pillar up front, paving the way for a powerhouse program that has become the class of the FCS. Radunz can become a franchise left tackle at the next level, and will have one more opportunity to make his case to evaluators.
NDSU’s Dillon Radunz a legitimate NFL lineman on the rise
Career overview of Dillon Radunz
A two-sport standout in football and basketball at Becker Senior High School (Becker, MN), success for Dillon Radunz was anything but instantaneous. It wasn’t until his final two years that Radunz started at left tackle for the back-to-back Minnesota Class 4A state champions.
As a senior, Radunz was a vital component to an offensive line that catalyzed a multi-faceted attack that yielded 3,091 rushing yards, 2,251 passing yards, and 77 touchdowns.
When the 6-foot-6 lineman arrived at North Dakota State in 2016, his patience would once again be put to the test as a redshirt. Instead of mauling FCS linemen, Radunz’s first season was spent refining his technique and adding mass to his frame.
By the 2017 season, Radunz was poised to take on a prominent role for the Bison — until adversity struck. Radunz, who logged 15 snaps in the season-opener against Mississippi Valley State, exited prematurely with a season-ending knee injury.
The Minnesota native remained diligent throughout the arduous rehab process, returning in time to start all 15 games at left tackle for the Bison in 2018. With Radunz paving the way, senior quarterback Easton Stick threw for 2,094 yards and 22 touchdowns, against just four interceptions — en route to a perfect season that culminated in an FCS Championship.
Radunz earned second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors, and was also named a HERO Sports FCS All-American in his first season.
As a redshirt junior, Radunz started all 16 games for the Bison. Among his many accolades, the 6-foot-6, 299-pound stalwart was named the MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice, an AP first-team All-American, AFCA first-team All-American, and an FCS Athletic Directors Association first-team All-American.
Last impression at the collegiate level
As North Dakota State prepares to take on Robert Rochell and Central Arkansas on Saturday, the main draw will be quarterback Trey Lance in his only contest of the fall. However, Radunz will have an opportunity to send his draft stock soaring with a strong showing.
Although he is widely regarded as a second-round pick, Radunz will have an opportunity to boost his profile as a potential blue-chip prospect in a matchup he should dominate at the line of scrimmage.
The Minnesota native is brimming with athleticism and tantalizing intangibles, but his technique will need refining for sustained success at the next level. He also must overcome the small school stigma despite his gaudy resume.
By the conclusion of Saturday’s contest, we’ll have a better idea on where exactly to slot the renowned lineman.