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Jim Kleinsasser spoke about UND memories, the Big Sky and pushing through fall camp among other topics with the UND Drive blog on Wednesday.
UND Drive: On location in Winter Park
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Updated: Sunday 08/18/2011 15:30:15 (ET)
by Ryan Powell, UND Media Relations
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The UND Drive Blog will provide an inside look at the 2011 Fighting Sioux fall camp that began on Wednesday, Aug. 3. Before UND can begin its first official drive of the season vs. Drake on Sept. 1, the team will spend 29 days on a different kind of a drive as the Sioux will work hard to reach the common goal of being the best-prepared team at the Alerus Center on the evening of Sept. 1 against the Bulldogs and each subsequent game that follows.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The UND Drive blog took a brief hiatus from Fighting Sioux fall camp on Wednesday to travel southeast to Minneapolis and catch up with former UND tight end Jim Kleinsasser.

The NFL veteran is embarking on his 13th season as a Viking and he took some time following the Vikings' practice on Wednesday to answer a few questions.

You are entering your 13th season in the NFL, tell us about the journey, having grown up a Vikings fan in North Dakota and being able to play for your favorite team for so long?
"I've been real lucky being able to play so close to home. It's been surreal having my support group so close and being able to play in front of them as much as I have. It's been great."

Going back to your college days, what are you fondest memories from your time at UND?
"There are quite a few. It was such a great group of guys and coaches I had throughout my years there. The little things, being in the lockerroom with the guys. You always look forward to the NDSU games. Probably one of the biggest games we had was down in the (Fargo) Dome. We beat up on the Bison pretty good my senior year, so that was probably one of my top ones. But, really just everyday, working hard with the guys towards a common goal."

What would you tell this year's UND team as they finish up the transition to the Division I level?
"They are part of something really special. They are taking us into a new dimension. It's a tough road, but guys will look back and remember that they were at the start of it all. We are all thinking about them and supporting them. It's an exciting time too, making the jump. These guys have put their heart into and shown great work."

What do you think the move to the Big Sky means for this program?
"Well, going to the Big Sky has been the number one priority
getting into a big conference like that. The Big Sky brings instant credibility. There is no need to think of anything else except big time football with that conference. It is going to help recruiting. It is going to help drive competition within itself. I think that is a big deal. You are going up against the big dogs now."

You are kind of in a similar situation as the guys back in North Dakota being halfway through camp, gearing towards that first regular season game, what would you tell them to try and get them to push through these last couple of weeks?
"It's almost over. It is tough work, but it's important. Just think about running through that tunnel for the first time for your first game. Just have that in the back of your mind, knowing that's what you are working for."

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