Catching up with Tangen

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 1999

A lot of what I remember about Craig Tangen is the same as it was two years ago .

Tuesday, October 19, 1999

A lot of what I remember about Craig Tangen is the same as it was two years ago …

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When he carried the Grand Meadow Superlarks to the state playoffs on two piston legs that chewed up more yards than Pac Man chewed pellets.

When he scared the bejesus out of nine-man football opponents who’d never been asked to tackle a locomotive before.

When he led Grand Meadow to a pair of wins over archnemesis LeRoy-Ostrander, including one in a downpour that eliminated the Cards from the playoffs.

The Craig Tangen I talked to last night is much the same as that one.

"I’ve always thought of myself as a playmaker," he said from his adopted home in Fargo. "I enjoy the feeling of having all the pressure placed on my shoulders."

On Saturday, for the first time in almost two years, Tangen the Playmaker reappeared, scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a 19-yard reception from junior QB Ryan Johnson.

Tangen is a red-shirt freshman, meaning, like most rookie Bison, he sat out last season in order to grow physically and mentally.

In that year, he packed an extra 30 pounds of muscle onto his 6-foot, 4-inch linebacker-resistant frame.

Even at 270 pounds, Tangen still runs a sub-5-second 40-yard dash.

One major difference between his prep days and today is Tangen is a tight end.

He plays 40 percent of the offensive plays, coming in when the Bison use a two tight end set.

He still longs to carry the ball.

"I still can be a playmaker," he said. "But I’m not – how do I want to say this – as important as I used to be."

His primary job is to block, though the NDSU coaches are asking Johnson to look for his tight ends more. In Saturday’s road game in Brooking against South Dakota State, the primary tight end, sophomore Jared Peck, caught a season-high three passes.

To date, Tangen has three catches for 47 yards and the lone touchdown by a Bison tight end.

"We were at the 19 and driving," said Tangen. "We were in the double tight end set and I was on the backside. I dragged across the middle and got a perfect pass. There were no defenders in front of me. I went untouched into the endzone."

Tangen’s old coach Gary Sloan and a host of Grand Meadow faithful drove the four hours to see it.

"I heard he was coming," Tangen said. "There were a lot of Grand Meadow people there. It was real special."

After the game, Tangen said he made small talk with the friends from back home.

The giant from tiny Grand Meadow will never forget where he came from. But it’s clear that his life is ahead of him.

He’s studying to become a zoologist. He’s taking 16 credits this term. He has settled nicely into life on a campus almost 10 times the size of his hometown.

"This is my home now," he said.

His coach is 23-9 in his career at NDSU, "and that’s not good enough for the people of Fargo," Tangen said. "Everything here is measured in national championships."

At 6-1, the North Dakota State University football team is in good shape to make an NCAA Division II title run.

Tangen still wears the same No. 49 that used to wake nine-man cornerbacks in cold sweats.

After the TD catch, things are looking even more the same for Tangen.

"It was unbelievable," Tangen said. "It’s been about two years since I’ve been on the field. The feeling of catching the pass and scoring the TD … I had a hard time breathing when I got into the endzone."

Tangen the Playmaker is back. As breathtaking as ever.