NDSU Bison Coaches

Frisco Memories: Joe Klanderman and Bryan Shepherd

Cornerbacks coach Bryan Shepherd and secondary coach Joe Klanderman discuss how they got their players ready for the national title game.

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The grind never ends for college football coaches. Coming off a 2016 season when North Dakota State’s run of national titles ended, the Bison coaches went right to work on the 2017 edition of NDSU football. The work was rewarded after fighting through a season of adversity and reclaiming the FCS throne. We sat down with each position coach and asked what this season meant to them.

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Joe Klanderman, Secondary Coach

Joe Klanderman had a group of defensive backs in 2017 who have played countless games together. Safeties Tre Dempsey and Robbie Grimsley and cornerbacks Jalen Allison and Jaylaan Wimbush were in their second year as starters. The results showed. The Bison were No. 3 in the FCS with 147.9 passing yards allowed per game.


What does a guy like Tre Dempsey mean to you personally and to this program?
“I have so much respect for Tre. To watch his development from a kind of arrogant young person to one of the best leaders this program has ever had, I can’t put it into words how much he means to me and my family. He’s around my kids and wife and they have so much respect for him, too. When you go through your coaching career, at the end of it, I imagine there are a handful of guys you really remember. He’ll be one of those guys for me.”

Before that fourth-and-long for JMU’s last play, what are you telling your guys and how often do you practice that scenario?
“We practice it every week. We don’t necessarily practice it from the 20-yard line. We weren’t in the personnel group that we would always be in, we just had our base defense out there. Our message was to just execute the call. It wasn’t going to be a Hail Mary situation, they were going to run a concept. It turned out to be a Hail Mary because of the scramble. But those guys went out and executed just like they always do.”

What does this national title mean to you?
“This one is special because a lot of these guys are guys that we brought in here. We’ve seen them develop from high school juniors and seniors to playing on the biggest stage we can. The guys that we projected out as high school athletes fulfilling their roles the way that they did to help the team achieve success is a special deal.”

Bryan Shepherd, Cornerbacks Coach

In his first season as a full-time position coach, Bryan Shepherd had a tall task leading up to the national title game. The former Bison defensive back who won championships from 2011-2013 had to get true freshman Josh Hayes and converted wide receiver Marquise Bridges prepared to play after starting corners Jalen Allison and Jaylaan Wimbush were injured in the semifinals.


What was it like for you getting Hayes and Bridges ready to play in a national title game?
“Those guys did an amazing job all year as far as attacking practice and getting better like they were playing. You can credit that to the culture here, coach (Jim) Kramer and the guys because they were able to step in and not flinch because they practiced like they were a starter all year. Everyone just so happened to see them that Saturday, which was a big game.”


Did your experience of playing in Frisco not long ago help with getting those guys ready?
“I would say that was beneficial. But for the most part, I’m just telling you the way these kids attacked every day was impressive. Yeah, you’re going to go the BBQ Bowl, you’re going to see the other team before the game. But it doesn’t matter. The Fargodome is loud and this venue is unique, too. But after the first play, it’s just another game. At least that’s what I told them.”

What does this national title mean to you?
“This one was pretty neat to me being a coach. Seeing the process behind the scenes and all of that. That’s why this was pretty meaningful to me.”


Frisco Memories: Joe Klanderman and Bryan Shepherd
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