GRAND FORKS — UND wide receiver Bo Belquist was born when his father Elliott Belquist was entering his final year as a wide receiver with the North Dakota State football program in Fargo.
“He was 8 months old, walking the halls of the BSA (Bison Sports Arena),” said Elliott, whose brother Alex played football for the Bison a year after Elliott (2000-03). “He’s always been into football. We’d come home, he’d run with the ball and we’d throw leggings at him. He was trying to get from point A to point B trying to go through pillows.
UND football coaches call Bo a “football junkie”, who understands every situation and is never satisfied with his performance.
Between those traits — and slick athleticism — Belquist became the top pass catcher in UND and one of the best in the FCS’ top conference — the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
“I think I get (a football addicted label) for always wanting to watch a movie and learn the little details that might help in the game,” Bo said. “I’m a perfectionist in running, and if I make one small mistake, I go crazy and want it to be perfect.”
With a scoring touchdown against Northern Arizona last Saturday, which landed as the No. 4 game Sunday on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10, Belquist now sits No. 5 in Division I history. UND in career touchdowns with 10.
On the 8-yard touchdown, Belquist caught a fast outside hitter around the 10-yard line. Near the 5 he rolled over a defender trying to tackle him low but Bo never touched the turf with his knee or elbow so he regained his balance and jumped a second defender around the 3-yard line and jumped into the end zone.
“I love him,” said UND quarterback Tommy Schuster. “He’s so good. He is so smart. He’s a guy you need to have the ball. You saw on the touchdown what he can do. It’s crazy how he got into the end zone.
Bo said his mom let him know he was on SportsCenter.
“It gives you goosebumps,” Elliott said. “You think about your kids and the kids you coach and you want the best for them and do great things. It just makes you smile and shake your head.
Belquist, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior, ranks No. 8 in career receptions (94) and No. 10 in career receiving yards (971) in the Division I record books. the UND.
The New Rockford, ND native is currently No. 2 in MVFC in receptions per game at 5.7.
“He is very valuable to us,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “The best thing about him is that he keeps working to improve. He holds himself to a high standard, and that’s how he keeps getting better.
“He doesn’t need a lot of rehearsals. He comes out and does it on the first try. He has a real good sense of things. »
Bo gets the kind of praise one would expect from a coach’s son. Elliott has been the head coach of the New Rockford-Sheyenne football program since 2006.
“Living in a small town and me being in the position where I coach all year, you’re around the sport,” Elliott said. “If he wasn’t in the gym or on the field, he was back home playing Madden.”
Bo played for Elliott when he was a freshman in high school. Bo, who would eventually be named North Dakota 9-a-side Football Player of the Year, also played basketball, baseball and track and field for the Rockets.
Like in his college years, Bo was not physically imposing in high school football. He just has a knack for opening up, making people miss, and making plays.
“There weren’t too many people to tackle him with the first guy,” Elliott said. “He has that instinct. It changes direction, changes speed. The yards after the catch were still fantastic. He scored a lot of touchdowns, just making people miss.
Despite a smaller frame as a rookie in the spring of 2021, Belquist made his college debut in the season opener against Southern Illinois and scored his first career touchdown. He finished the season with back-to-back touchdown games against North Dakota State and Missouri State.
After his rookie year, he was named to the MVFC rookie team and a freshman Hero Sports All-American.
“I feel like I’m undersized and I’m not the fastest,” Belquist said. “I like being under the radar. You can go out there and surprise them.
Although Belquist has become a force within the UND program and around FCS, he won’t tell you much.
“He’s not the big rah-rah guy and does a lot of shouting and calls attention to himself,” Elliott said. “He’s going to go about his business and work hard.”
The New Rockford-Sheyenne summer weight program started at 6 a.m. and ran 25 times a summer.
Elliott thinks he even had to wake his son about three times out of those 100 times.
“I would get up and go and expect him to be there, and he would be there,” Elliott said. “That’s how he was. He worked hard and wasn’t going to be too vocal. He would just show you how it’s done.
Last season, Belquist led the Fighting Hawks in receptions (52) and receiving yards (535), averaging 53.5 yards per game.
Belquist entered the 2022 season as an all-MVFC preseason second team pick and a third team pick by Phil Steele.
Elliott said the pandemic-hit season in the 2020-21 school year helped Bo in the weight room, as well as the football room.
“He learned the playbook,” Elliott said. “Damn, it wasn’t easy. I have experience with playbooks, and it was difficult.
With his father and uncle playing for the Bison, New Rockford has often been considered North Dakota state territory. Yet, at least for some, that is changing.
“I can see a lot more UND stuff flying around New Rockford,” Elliott said. “There are a lot more people watching the games. New Rockford will support its children wherever they are.