Tanguay feels at home with Bison
FARGO — There’s more than figuring out a weather forecast to John Wheeler, the WDAY chief meteorologist. He’s also an instructor at North Dakota State and at least one student couldn’t be more thankful.
If football doesn’t work out for Bison defensive tackle Nate Tanguay, he may have found his calling in life.
“It became apparent fairly early in the semester that Nate is just a natural,” Wheeler said. “The camera loves him but more important, Nate loves the microphone. I think he had a really good time and think he figured out he has a talent for that. Once he got going, his wonderful, funny personality came out and he’s not shy.”
Wheeler first had Tanguay as a student in the fall semester of 2016, a time when Tanguay experienced the three-letter injury that nobody wants to think about. ACL. As comfortable as he became in front of the camera in Wheeler’s broadcast performance class, when the lights weren’t on, things got tough.
There were Sunday mornings this fall when Tanguay would get up and proceed to move around like he was 85 years old instead of the fifth-year college senior that he is. The rehabilitated knee would not cooperate.
Walking down the stairs? It took a lot of effort.
“Having to crawl a little bit,” he said.
You could walk through the football locker room and do a story on “North Dakota Tough” every week. This is another one.
The college career was going just swimmingly for Tanguay in the first 40 games. He started every one of them and was playing at an all-Missouri Valley Football Conference level if not an all-FCS level.
But an awkward-looking pass rush in the first quarter against Youngstown State last year left Tanguay on the Gate City Bank Field turf holding his knee with an ACL tear. It happened in November and the ensuing months of Tanguay were all about getting back on the field this season as healthy as possible.
It hasn’t been easy.
“I was going to be on the field no matter what,” he said. “I said I was going to play every game and not let up.”
Fighting words, certainly, but it didn’t work out that way. Tanguay went three games without playing the second half, the result of NDSU blowouts that gave the coaching staff the option to rest him.
The Bison have more depth this year in the defensive line, which has allowed the coaching staff to bring Tanguay along at a slower pace.
As a sophomore, Tanguay had 45 tackles with four quarterback hurries and 2.5 sacks. He was on pace with similar statistics last year with 31 tackles in just over eight games before being sidelined.
He has 12 tackles in 11 games this year, although defensive line coach Nick Goeser said that doesn’t mean Tanguay’s performance has lessened. Tanguay has played about half the snaps that he did his first three seasons.
“I think he has huge value,” Goeser said. “When he goes in there, you can see people pointing to him. People know where he is, they’re double-teaming him and they try to move him off the line with two or three guys.”
Taking up that kind of space, Goeser said, has benefitted the other interior defensive linemen like nose guards Aaron Steidl and Blake Williams and defensive tackles Cole Karcz and Grant Morgan.
“He may not have the numbers what he had last year or his sophomore year but I still think he draws a ton of attention and I still think people have a hard time moving him off the line of scrimmage when teams want to be physical,” Goeser said. “They’re not moving Nate a whole lot and that’s where his big value is.”
Tanguay had his knee drained of fluid around the midpoint of the season, a procedure he said has been followed with positive results. He said he had about 75 cubic centimeters removed, or enough to fill two syringes.
“I was like, wow, I can actually begin to bend my knee and then it really started healing,” Tanguay said.
The hope is the healing will continue into the offseason. Tanguay said he will train for an NFL shot after the Bison season is completed. And if that doesn’t work out, he said, it will be back to his media education.
“We’ll see where it takes me but I think it would be a lot of fun and I think I have the voice and personality for it,” he said. “Honestly it’s because of John Wheeler. He just made it really fun and enjoyable. Getting some experience on the set and see what he does behind the scenes really got me hooked.”