Ohio prep enrolls early to join Reinholz in NDSU kicker competition

FARGO — It was around the middle of his junior year in high school in Powell, Ohio, when Griffin Crosa figured he would have enough academic credits to get his diploma early. So this January, the North Dakota State football recruit got a jump-start on college and enrolled for the spring semester.

The academic transition has gone fine. He doesn’t miss home as much as he thought he would. He’s enjoying spring football and learning the college game has gone well. About the only shock to the system came in the weight room.

That first day was a pride buster. The Bison technique on a squat lift had him bending deeper than he was used to. He only had about 100 pounds on the bar.

“That was a little diminishing,” Crosa said with a laugh.

EMBED — Crosa

He has since increased his weight load and acclimation to college is virtually complete. The job as NDSU’s starting kicker, as of now, is between Crosa and sophomore Jake Reinholz. One of them will have big shoes to fill in replacing Cam Pedersen, who left as the program’s all-time leading scorer.

Pedersen hit 46 field goals and 261 extra points for a total of 399 points. That’s 13 more than quarterback Jeff Bentrim accumulated from 1983-86.

“It’s different without him,” Reinholz said. “Obviously he was a big leader in our special teams group.”

That job now belongs to Reinholz, the Fargo Shanley graduate who will be in his third year in the program. The sophomore redshirted his freshman year and appeared in three games last fall kicking three extra points.

This spring has brought a different mindset for Reinholz now that Pedersen is gone. He’s the heir apparent.

“Definitely, I try to take each rep like it’s a game rep,” he said. “Everytime coach sends us out there, I’m expected to put points on the board and that’s been my mentality.”

As Crosa will probably find out, NDSU’s strength and conditioning program has been a benefit to Reinholz, who said he’s added about five or six yards to his field goal distance. He says he feels confident in his range somewhere around 53 to 54 yards.

He’s added one or two yards alone this winter. That may benefit him on kickoffs, too. Pedersen handled both duties the majority of the time he was at NDSU.

“He was a two-dimensional player so everything is up for grabs right now,” Reinholz said. “Griffin and I are both working hard to fill those spots.”

Crosa is the first high school player to enroll early at NDSU since tight end Marcus Collins from Madison, Wis., in the 2014 spring semester. Collins had to give up the game after one year because of health reasons.

Crosa was 6 of 8 with a long of 46 yards and converted all 38 of his extra point attempts in his senior year at Dublin Scioto High School. NDSU was part of his Division I FCS summer camp tour and his performance in Fargo was worthy of a preferred walk-on offer.

“I took it right away,” Crosa said. “I didn’t want to go to another FCS school, play NDSU and wonder, what if I would have come here?”

He already has one memory checked off the list. He was part of the NDSU ensemble that met President Donald Trump and toured the White House in March. While his friends back home are doing things like prom and getting ready for graduation, he’s grinding away in north Fargo.

“They miss me and I miss them but this has been a good experience,” Crosa said. “I haven’t gotten as homesick as I thought I was going to be. College is fun and I’m always busy so I haven’t had a lot of time to think about other stuff like that.”