The Minnesota State Mavericks have just been voted to the No. 1 spot in the latest NCAA super region four rankings. They are back at the top, as one of the best schools in the nation in all of Division-II. The Mavericks have blown their opponents out of the water, wrecking teams by churning out yards on the ground. At the helm of the offensive attack is sophomore running back Nate Gunn, who has rushed for 1,115 yards and 10 scores in eight games. Before he was injured in the eighth game against Southwest Minnesota State, he was topping 100 yards every game of the season.
“I definitely knew we would be running the ball going into the season because that’s what all the coaches told me, ‘we are going to pound the ball’,” said Gunn on the game plan from the beginning. “We would run first and challenge teams to try and stop us. Everyone knows what we are going to do and they still haven’t been able to stop it yet.”
Gunn is having a breakout season after transferring from the University of South Dakota Coyotes to join the Mavericks for the 2017 season. Despite the sophomore’s transition to a new offense, you would never have known it from his play on the field, seamlessly fitting into the backfield duties and taking over the ground game. What he also fit into was the Maverick culture that strives to get better and win games.
“Coming over on a visit, you would have thought this team was 0-11 instead of just going 8-3,” said Gunn on the team expectations. “But that’s just how this culture is, they demand to not be good but great. They aren’t fine with co-conference champions, they want to be champions and more.”
After racking up 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns in high school with the Minooka Indians, the workhorse back has grown a lot two seasons into his college career. After the injury to his shoulder last season, he opted out of changing positions and moving to linebacker, transferring over to MSU. Leading up to this season, he proved his worth in a then-crowded backfield of eight, to rise to a role not only as a lead runner, but also a locker room voice. Gunn is not just a stud on the field, but also as a leader off it with his work ethic and team mentality, proving he is in it for the men around him by guiding the younger backs from the sideline as he deals with a hampering leg injury.
“I was the guy that the offensive line and the other backs looked to but now with the injury I have had to take a step back and help from the sideline,” said Gunn on how to he has stayed active on the team through injury. “Stepping back and looking at the team, there are a lot of young guys that can step up and really play. Justin Taormina and J.D. Ekowa ran really well, young guys on defense played great, and this is just a really good team that is going to do a lot of great things this year.”
Gunn is a sports management major at Minnesota State. The Mavericks are hoping for a speedy recovery for the young running back, as playoff football looms.