Bismarck's Esley Thorton Becomes Big Part of Bison Defense - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Bismarck's Esley Thorton Becomes Big Part of Bison Defense

Bismarck, ND -

A Bismarck football player is seeing a lot of playing time for the defending two time national champions the NDSU Bison.

BHS grad Esley Thorton is playing an even larger role on defense since NDSU star linebacker Grant Olson was injured.

Bismarck native Esley Thorton is part of an elite pack. The Bison defense. The men are a key part in NDSU's unbeaten, top ranked team.

"We take a lot of pride in our defense. It's a special group to be part of the "Code Green"," says Thorton.

What #9 Thorton is doing for the Bison is much different than how he dominated the field in high school.

Thorton set Bismarck High records for most passing yards in a season and career as quarterback for the demons.

Thorton switched from offense to defense last season, after he was dropped to the third string quarterback.

The Bison had a need at linebacker and Thorton wanted to play.

Thorton says, "I can't ask for much more, I've gotten the opportunity, a second chance to play. Things didn't work out at quarterback and I'm glad I got the opportunity to play another position. Some guys aren't as fortunate. If they don't work out in that position they are done."

"Typically quarterbacks out of high school are your best athletes. So when we recruited Esley we knew he could do the move. It became apparent he could help us in a different position, he embraced the move. It's not easy but he's a pretty special player," says NDSU Coach Craig Bohl.

Thorton's playing time has increased throughout the season.

The junior has played in every game and is now a starting linebacker.

As the Bison wrap up their regular season, Thorton says the Kansas State game was a highlight.

"That was a big win. It solidified our team and showed that we can play with any of the big teams. But I hope to play in some even bigger games in December and January," says Thorton.

Thorton played in the last two national championship games and at 11-0, Thorton and the Bison are in position to be part of something special again.

Thorton says, "coming into season that's been our goal to go for that 3rd championship. But we go about things the same, take it one game at a time."

Thorton's new role on defense has brought changes. He's gained weight and he's also known for his hair.

"I got to college and decided I'd grow it out. Not sure when I'll cut it, I don't have much of a plan. Just keep growing it I guess," says Thorton

And being on a team where tradition brings trophies, Thorton may leave the hair as long as the winning streak continues.

Esley has started 3 games this season, and played in all 11.

He has 30 tackles which is 7th on the Bison defense for tackles this season.

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