VERMILLION, S.D. — Kody Case embraced the family atmosphere presented at the University of South Dakota when he arrived because that was what Case was accustomed to.
Case, a former South Central Calhoun all-stater, is set to begin his redshirt sophomore season for the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Coyotes, who play in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Growing up in Lake City, Case stayed active in multiple sports with his father, Bryan, coaching him in both football and track. His mother, Kari, is a second grade teacher in the school district.
“All my life, I’ve looked up to my parents,” Case said. “I want to be just like my dad, teach P.E. and coach. I want to follow in his footsteps.”
The father-son relationship only grew due to their time spent on the practice fields together, something Kody never took for granted.
“He held me to a higher standard and made me do more work, but that got me better at the game of football,” he said. “He always tried to keep practice separate from home, but I could go to him with any questions that I had.”
As a prep, Case was a two-time Class 1A District 7 offensive MVP, setting school records for points (354), all-purpose yards (5,060), receiving yards (2,205) and receiving touchdowns (32). He earned two all-state honors on the gridiron, was a three-time all-Twin Lakes Conference basketball selection and set four school records on the track.
Despite all that, Case still felt as if he would redshirt his first year with South Dakota. But that all changed against Drake in September.
“Our punt returner went down and coach asked me, ‘Kody, you ready?'” Case said. “I went in and caught my first punt and it was just go time after that.”
The next week, Case had three receptions for 130 yards as the Coyotes upset FBS Bowling Green. He finished his true freshman season with 25 receptions for 430 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games, adding another 366 return yards.
Injuries, though, derailed Case last fall starting with a shoulder issue and including tears to both his hamstrings at different times.
“The training staff really helped me get through the injuries,” Case said.
Case finished with 17 receptions for 163 yards in four games, playing the maximum amount but keeping his redshirt.
South Dakota opens the season at home on Saturday, Aug. 31 against Montana. The following week, the Coyotes head to Norman to meet national title contender Oklahoma.