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Mahnomen native now a Bison

NDSU offensive lineman Ty Beckius, left, blocks Tyler Gimmestad during practice Thursday. (Carrie Snyder/The Forum)

The student in John Clark Jr.'s sixth grade class in Mahnomen said his goal was to play football for North Dakota State and then the NFL. Well, Ty Beckius is halfway there.

He had to walk on to make the first goal a reality, but the progress has been fast and efficient. Just a sophomore, he'll be the starting right guard tonight when the Bison play at the University of Kansas.

The offensive line interior was the spot for NDSU in their upset over the Jayhawks. When it comes to games between the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision, the Bison have proven the formula for success centers around the ability to run the ball.

They did it in wins at Central Michigan, Ball State and Minnesota.

And now Kansas.

"Yeah, this is a dream come true," Beckius said. "I didn't expect it to be this soon. You always hope for it and you keep working hard for it."

Beckius has been working at it since moving his way up the ladder in high school.

Another in a long line of players from Mahnomen who have played at NDSU, he was invited to be a preferred walk on in 2008.

"What went unnoticed was how agile he was for such a big kid," said Clark, also his high school football coach. "We were messing around in practice once and put him at fullback. We gave him the ball, the first thing he did was hit and spun around and ran for 18 yards and I just thought, 'Oh my God, we have to give him the ball.'"

A good performance in the Bison summer football camp before his junior year got NDSU's attention. He took the Bison option over limited scholarship offers from St. Cloud State and Minnesota State Moorhead.

But he made good on his sixth grade word and felt he needed to give Division I football a shot.

"That's what attracted me -- Division I," he said. "I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I always felt that I wanted to work for a scholarship. They are not going to give it you."

Once on campus, there was work to do, however, with his strength and conditioning.

He came in at 312 pounds, dropped down to 285 that year before building himself up to his current 6-foot-3 1/2 and 300 pounds.

"He went in there with a level head knowing it was going to take at least a couple of years to have a chance to play," Clark said. "I could tell from his freshman year to last year how much more confident he sounded. He went from being thrown around to holding his own to last year saying, 'I can play with these guys.'"