WCA-Ashby’s Norby excited for first Division I offer from 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 is seeing his recruitment in football pick up after recently receiving an offer from the University of North Dakota. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Ashby junior Jaden Norby showed what kind of mindset he plays with in sports by diving all over the court in a narrow win over Brandon-Evansville during a regular-season basketball game played in early January this past winter.

Norby’s game-high 21 points that night is not the only thing stood out to opposing head coach Trent Hintermeister.

“He wanted it so bad,” Hintermeister said after the game. “I’m not saying our guys didn’t because I thought we played hard, but for a 6’4,” 200-whatever he is to be on the floor as much as he is, he showed his heart.”

Norby stands out in all three sports he plays -- baseball, basketball and football -- because of his size at 6-feet, 4-inches and almost 235 pounds. Those measurables are not necessarily the norm at the high school level, but they are not uncommon in Division I college football.

It takes more than size to succeed at that level. It’s Norby’s combination of size and the energy and athleticism he plays with that is causing college coaches in football to give him a long look. That interest recently turned into Norby’s first Division I offer in late March from the University of North Dakota.


“I’m really excited,” Norby said. “It feels great to have all the hard work pay off.”

Norby loves all three sports he plays, but he has settled on a future in football after high school. The work he does in the weight room helps him no matter what season it is, and it has made him quite a force on both sides of the ball for the West Central Area-Ashby football team.

“I think that size and athleticism are the things that first get him noticed, but then his intangibles are what are making schools take notice,” WCA-Ashby head coach Nate Wood said. “He's put in a ton of time to get as strong as he can be. He could play and excel at any position in high school football. This is paired with poise and athleticism that's very apparent on film.

“After the initial physical characteristics, it's all the other parts that make Jaden an amazing human that schools like. He's a good student, kind, humble, and hardworking. One conversation with him is all it takes for a college coach to realize they would want him on their team.”

Norby played quarterback for the Knights this past fall. 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. Norby also finished with 46.5 tackles on defense.

He said college coaches have talked to him about playing tight end on offense at the next level. Defensively, they also see him as a possible fit at linebacker or defensive end.

“I’ll play anywhere as long as I get to play. I love playing football,” Norby said. “(Playing quarterback) has had a lot of plusses. You’ve got to know what everyone is doing, and if you don’t know what one person is doing it could result in a bad play. Knowing a lot about that helps me out a lot. I can say I wasn’t the best passer, but running helped me be physical.”

Norby took his first visit to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks shortly after his football season. The two sides had been in frequent communication through the winter before the Fighting Hawks, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, offered him a scholarship. Norby is also hearing from North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois, among others.


“Every coach I talk to is very friendly,” Norby said. “They’re all really easy to talk to.”

Norby plans to wait a while before committing anywhere to see where his recruitment goes, but he was excited about the offer from UND.

He has watched others from the area like Travis Yohnke from Parkers Prairie get noticed while playing for a smaller program in outstate Minnesota before going on to play at the Division I level. Yohnke is a freshman this year at North Dakota State University.

Norby takes pride in playing for the Knights and having an opportunity now to realize his dream of playing college football when that time comes.

“It means a lot. I’m very excited and very thankful for all of my coaches and all my teammates,” Norby said. “It’s not just my basketball coach, my baseball coach, my football coach. It’s everyone that comes together and helps me out. I can’t name everyone who’s helped me out. Teachers too. They have a big part of this too.”

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