Football: Knights’ Norby finds his college home at UND

1. Jaden Norby DSC_1008.jpg
West Central Area-Ashby junior Jaden Norby runs the ball during a game against Wadena-Deer Creek on Sept. 6, 2019. Norby made a verbal commitment on June 2 to play football at the University of North Dakota starting in the fall of 2021. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

The University of North Dakota was the first Division I football program to offer West Central Area-Ashby junior Jaden Norby a scholarship.

On Tuesday afternoon, Norby gave the Fighting Hawks a verbal commitment.

“They did a really good job of making me feel comfortable,” Norby said of the UND coaching staff led by head coach Bubba Schweigert. “I would get calls from them twice a week. I could talk to those guys for hours. They’re super nice and they already feel like coaches to me. My dream ever since I was younger was to play (Division I) football. It finally happened, and I’m really excited for that.”

The Fighting Hawks are a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). They have been on the upward climb over the last couple seasons, going 6-5 in 2018 and 7-5 in 2019 after a 3-8 record three years ago.

“It’s an upcoming program that has a lot of potential, and hopefully the 2021 class can help that out a lot,” Norby said.


At 6-feet, 4-inches and 235 pounds, Norby played quarterback for the Knights this past fall as a physical running threat. He ran the ball 112 times for 574 yards (5.1 yards-per carry) and 15 touchdowns. He completed 45-of-109 passes for 615 yards, three touchdowns, and nine interceptions, while also racking up 46.5 tackles on defense.

With his size and athleticism, Norby could likely fit on both sides of the ball in college, but UND coaches recruited him as a tight end.

“The tight end coach, Shawn Kostich, him and I will do zoom calls pretty much every week,” Norby said. “I’ll send him some routes and he’ll critique me. He’s basically coaching me already even before the commitment, which is pretty cool.”

Norby has limited experience playing the position. He started his sophomore season at running back before an injury to his foot. Jaden’s older brother, Christian, came back from an ACL injury to move into the backfield as Jaden made the switch to tight end.

“I wasn’t sure about it right away, but it actually turned out to be a lot of fun,” Jaden said. “Opening up big holes, pancaking guys was a lot of fun. It turned a bad situation into a good one because I’m going to be playing that position in college.”

He’s confident that he can grow into a versatile player at tight end.

“I think I can do both (blocking and catching the ball),” Norby said. “I’ll do whatever the coaches ask. If they want me to catch a ball, I’ll go out and catch it. If they want me to pancake a guy, I’ll do that too.”

Norby has always been a regular in the weight room, but he says he has gotten stronger in the last couple months during quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


In addition to adding strength, he’s excited to work on other parts of his game this summer that will make him a better overall player as a senior for the Knights and heading into college.

“You can never be too strong in college,” Norby said. “There’s some really strong guys out there, but for me I think it’s going to be a lot of footwork, hand-eye coordination and speed type of drills I’m going to be doing over the summer. I’m going to be keying in on those.”

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
What To Read Next
Get Local