North Dakota State football on Aug. 14 announced it would not play in the fall of 2020. Joining several college football conferences and teams that had made similar decisions, the program said it would "turn its attention toward" playing in the spring of 2021.
This relatively widespread trend in college football amid the COVID-19 pandemic is a nightmare for NFL scouts who know many of the top prospects likely will pass on a spring football season that would conflict with the league's draft process. So those who are hoping to catch a glimpse of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft might be catching a break.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Pete Thamel, the Bison recently scheduled an Oct. 3 home game against Central Arkansas for what would be their only game this fall.
"The game allows North Dakota State to essentially have full 'spring practice' in the fall, with 20-hour practice weeks," Thamel writes. "Instead of NDSU’s 'spring practice' culminating with a scrimmage against each other, the Bison will play Central Arkansas, a formidable FCS foe."
The report notes that it's unclear whether NFL scouts will be allowed to attend the game in Fargo on Oct. 3. Regardless, assuming Lance plays, it will be appointment viewing for pro football talent evaluators.
Lance had an absurd redshirt freshman season for the Bison in 2019, his first full year as starter. He led NDSU to an undefeated record and its eighth FCS national championship in the last nine years. He completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for a rating of 180.6. He also led the team in rushing with 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“I’d be shocked if he’s not a top-15 pick,” one NFL area scout told Yahoo Sports. “I think he’s going to be right up in the top five with Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence.”
Added another pro scout who attended one of Lance's games last season: "I saw him throw one football and I immediately started texting our guys, asking, ‘Who the f— is that?'"
Lance is the No. 3 overall prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft on Sporting News NFL writer Vinnie Iyer's big board, which will become available Tuesday. He's currently behind Lawrence and Fields.
Iyer also has Lance landing with the Panthers at No. 5 overall in his latest mock draft for 2021.