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Hawley's Ellefson commits to NDSU for football

FARGO — The football career of Hawley’s Ben Ellefson began in fourth grade with Fargo-Moorhead youth football, and it will continue back in Fargo when he heads to college in 2015.

The Hawley tight end verbally committed to North Dakota State on Friday to play football.

“It’s a weight off my shoulders,” Ellefson said. “I love playing the game, and I remember growing up, and I watched Bison games and went to games. Hearing the fireworks and ‘Thunderstruck’ is pretty sweet when you’re a little kid. Being able to play there now is a neat accomplishment.”

Ellefson had Division I offers from NDSU, South Dakota State, New Mexico, Air Force, Fordham and Wyoming.

Ellefson said his top three were NDSU, SDSU and Wyoming, but the decision came down to NDSU and Wyoming, which is coached by former NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.

“It was a big decision between NDSU and Wyoming,” Ellefson said. “That’s what it came down to for me. Thinking of the pros and cons, NDSU had more pros than Wyoming and SDSU. Not that there was anything wrong with those two, but one of the big things was being close to home and being able to go home and be close to my family. That’s a big part of my life.”

Ellefson finished his junior season with 34 catches, 613 yards and nine touchdowns at tight end and wide receiver for Hawley.

He also had 347 yards and seven touchdowns on 48 carries at quarterback and running back to go along with 46 tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery at linebacker for the Nuggets.

“He’s the top kid we’ve had just because of the many things he can do and his understanding of the game and his impressive physical tools,” said Hawley head football coach Peder Naatz, who is entering his 15th season with the Nuggets. “By far the top player we’ve had in my time.”

Two more local talents remain on NDSU’s radar in Fargo South’s James Johannesson and Ty Brooks. Ellefson is more than happy to go from recruit to recruiter if it means adding them.

“I’d love to play with those guys,” Ellefson said. “I’ve become friends through the summer camp circuit, but I want the best thing for them too. I don’t want them to come to NDSU if they don’t want to.”

He joins offensive lineman Jake Brinkman, of North Liberty, Iowa, and tight end/linebacker Derrek Tuszka, of Warner, S.D., in the NDSU 2015 recruiting class.

Ellefson has a shoebox full of letters of colleges interested in him for football and basketball – in which he averaged 24.1 points, 11 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.8 assists as a junior – and still plans to play both his senior season.

He’s ready to put the shoebox away and get to work.

“NDSU is a football school,” Ellefson said. “Three national championships. It was a good fit for me. I’m excited to start that, and I’m excited to finish my senior seasons. My summer has been chaotic and crazy, but it’s been fun.”

While news broke on social media of Ellefson’s decision before Ellefson commented publicly, Ellefson did not flock to his phone to make his announcement and soak in the attention. The first thing he did was contact the coaches of the schools he decided against to personally inform them of his decision.

According to Naatz, that’s just the kind of person he is.

“They are getting a tremendous teammate who’s extremely dedicated to the weight room, his team and his teammates,” Naatz said. “One of the hardest working kids I’ve ever been around. He’s the kind of kid you’d want to marry your daughter.”

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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