Frisco, TX (Sports Network) -
Anybody who thinks Football Championship Subdivision players pale in stature to those in the Bowl Subdivision should talk to the Bright Elementary School students.
The Frisco school welcomed North Dakota State on Thursday in a community outreach event for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game on Saturday.
Texas governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry should hope to be as popular in his state as the Bison were at Bright School. And the Bison are playing a Texas school only 200 miles away in Huntsville, Sam Houston State.
"It's a huge honor to be able to come here and have these kids look up to us and cheer for us," said NDSU senior running back D.J. McNorton, a native of Channelview who is one of three Texans on the roster. "I think it's real big and kind of lets us as young adults to see that we can still have fun. To see it in their eyes how happy they are just for us to be here. They don't even know us that well. It's just so fun."
North Dakota State is seeking its first FCS championship under ninth-year head coach Craig Bohl.
While the Bison thrilled the Bright students, Sam Houston State's Bearkats weren't far away, enjoying a similar outreach trip to nearby Robertson Elementary School.
Surely, the championship game crowd at FC Dallas Stadium will favor Sam Houston State, but the Bison can draw off the enthusiasm of the Bright students. Some raised their hands when asked if they would be attending the game.
From the moment the players and coaches filed off their two teams busses and were greeted by encouraging signs and students lining the hallways leading into the assembly, they knew they were onto something special.
Head coach Craig Bohl taught the students the Bison nickname and team clap. When he sought questions, the student's youthful innocence shined through. They made statements, instead of asked questions, into Bohl's microphone. One young girl said her favorite subject is football.
Eventually, though, it was asked who is late to practice the most. Joe Horvath's teammates compelled the freshman defensive tackle to step forward, and he had to tell the students he runs extra laps because of it and that they should not follow such his lead.
"We were all kids at one time before, we kind of looked up to older people, older players," said senior wide receiver Warren Holloway, from Houston. "It's nice to get out in the community and do something like this."
NDSU gave principal Susie Graham and the school an autographed football. The students recited the school's motto for the Bison. It's 27 words long and includes the word "winner" five times.
The Bison (13-1) hope to be just that come Saturday when they face Sam Houston State State (14-0) in the first-ever FCS championship game appearance for both schools.
Regardless of the outcome, though, the Bison are winners to hundreds of students at Bright Elementary School.
"Not a lot of teams get an opportunity to do this, so for us to be able to make it here is awesome," sophomore strong safety Colten said.