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UND FOOTBALL: Hendrickson to start at quarterback for injured Hanson

Back up quarterback Marcus Hendrickson, (Perham, Minn.), points down field during a fourth quarter scramble Saturday. Herald photo by John Stennes.

In hopes of putting his athleticism on the field, Marcus Hendrickson started the 2010 UND football season at wide receiver.

But with depth concerns at quarterback, the sophomore moved back to his original position midway through the year and saw playing time under center in relief roles against Cal-Davis, Montana and South Dakota State.

The young Hendrickson struggled in his limited window of opportunity as an NCAA Division I transitioning North Dakota team got one of its first extended tastes of the Football Championship Subdivision level.

In the three games in 2010, Hendrickson was 13-for-47 passing for 131 yards. He passed for no touchdowns and threw two interceptions. His most extensive playing time came at Montana, which has one of the more intimidating atmospheres in college football. Nearly 25,000 fans were in the stands for that game, won 27-17 by the Griz.

"I remember I wasn't as prepared as I should have been," said Hendrickson, who will be UND's starting quarterback Saturday in the Potato Bowl against Portland State. "I was kind of confused and early to eject from the pocket. I'm a lot more calm and comfortable now in sitting in there and trusting my perception."

North Dakota turns to Hendrickson again this week after starting quarterback and North Carolina transfer Braden Hanson suffered a broken bone in his leg last Thursday. Hanson went down in the second quarter of UND's 66-0 season-opening win over South Dakota Mines. The senior is expected to miss two to three weeks.

UND coach Chris Mussman has seen Hendrickson mature over the past four-plus seasons on campus and expects the right-hander to make the most of his new opportunity.

"He'll take much more advantage of it now (than 2010)," Mussman said.

Hendrickson starred at Perham High School, where he threw for more than 3,300 yards and ran for another 1,500 during his career while scoring 49 total touchdowns.

After getting a brief opportunity in 2010, Hendrickson has dealt with the program bringing in a junior college transfer in Joey Bradley for the 2011 season and a drop-down transfer in Hanson this year.

Mussman said Hendrickson never complained about the additional competition.

"I've just tried to accept my role," Hendrickson said. "Early in my career I didn't do that as well."

As was the case last week with Hanson, who was a backup in his four years at North Carolina, Hendrickson will be making his first start at quarterback since high school Saturday against the Vikings.

"I got a taste of it Thursday," said Hendrickson, who was 5-for-6 for 95 yards and two touchdowns against Mines, "but I'll get a full dose Saturday.

"This is what I've always wanted. I was recruited to play quarterback. It's a great feeling, and I'm going to take it and run with it."