There comes a point in every sports fans’ life when you look at your selfie on Snapchat after Mike Trout hits a homerun and you ask yourself: What am I doing with my life?
Brandon Finnegan threw two-plus innings in the American League Wild Card game Tuesday at the ripe age of 21. In fact, earlier this year, Finnegan was in Omaha playing the College World Series for the Texas Christian Horned Frogs. Did I mention he’s 21-years-old and pitching in the Major League Baseball Postseason?
Not everyone can be a superstar athlete, and I’m starting to accept that fact, even though I’m keeping the dream alive of maybe one day having the ability to throw a 96 mph fastball, even though it will never happen. But still, you never know.
This brings me to the three North Dakota State football players who have been living the athletic dream since they graduated high school in 2010.
Travis Beck, Kyle Emanuel and Christian Dudzik played in their 50th game for the Bison Saturday. Quite the astonishing number after you sit down, do some quick math and realize the average Football Championship Subdivision player only has the possibility of playing 44.
Each these Bison defenders had an interesting journey to their stardom, but in the same way have a lot of similarities.
Emanuel started his Bison career at linebacker, Beck said during media day.
“He use to be one of us,” Beck said jokingly before Emanuel put him in a Darth Vader-eque choke hold in a photo shoot.
Beck was kidding, because he knows Emanuel is one of the top defensive players in the country and is a star playing on a defense that doesn’t allow for individuals to stand out often. Emanuel has managed to stick out by getting after the quarterback for four years while forcing the occasional fumble.
Speaking of turnover, Dudzik is pretty solid at forcing those, too. The Bison safety’s interception against Montana to seal the victory for NDSU was Dudzik’s career summed up in one play — the kid just comes through when it matters the most. Whether he’s returning punts for touchdown against Indiana State, being the last line of defense for the Bison, or dropping philosophical knowledge on Twitter, Dudzik shows up when he’s needed most, whether it’s playing cornerback or safety.
This takes us to someone who could probably play both positions.
Beck epitomizes what being an NDSU football player is all about. In the discussion of generational players, Beck’s name is at the top with his skills translating in every style of game, past or present. He’s tough against power teams like Wofford, and he flies around against teams that like to spread the ball like New Hampshire.
One moment he’s hurdling over a chop block, the next he’s grabbing at the quarterback while on his gut, and at the same time, his shoulder is dislocated.
And I haven’t even mentioned the reason why Bison fans like him the most. He’s a North Dakota kid. He grew up in the same grueling winters as the fans, drank the same water and shares the same license plate with them. People like a hometown hero, and that’s exactly what Beck is.
I may have shared a graduating high school class with Dudzik, Emanuel and Beck, but them completing their 50th game for the Bison is more impressive than what you or me could ever accomplish at this age.
It’s been fun watching these men play for what seems like forever at NDSU, and it’s going to be a heck of a journey as they reach for 60.