Three seasons ago, it was the University of South Dakota - not North Dakota State - who was the toast of the FCS, after a stunning three-point win on the road at Minnesota of the Big Ten.

Two seasons ago, the Coyotes came within a few minutes of sharing the Great West Conference title in their final season in the league, only to lose the crown on a big second half collapse at North Dakota.

Last season, with a new coaching staff in place, USD struggled to just one victory overall, while losing every league game in their first season in the Missouri Valley Conference.

And while there have been some pretty high highs and some pretty low lows in Vermillion since the beginning of the 2010 season, one guy has had a front row seat, linebacker Tyler Starr, who has definitely seen it all in his college career:

The Little Rock, Iowa native had his breakthrough season as a sophomore, where he led the team and the Great West conference with 14 sacks for 96 yards, while ranking in the the top 10 nationally.

He also forced seven fumbles, recovering two, and had a team and conference-high 19 tackles for loss for 106 yards.

His stellar play earned first team all-conference honors.

Last season, playing as a marked man after his amazing 2011, his numbers were understandably down a bit, but not his stature in the league or with his teammates as he became the leader of the Coyote defense, while being named to the All-Missouri Valley second team, and grabbing a spot as a finalist for the Buck Buchanan award, for the top defensive player in FCS.

Despite all the success, he knows his game is still a work in progress:

University of South Dakota

Now as he prepares for his senior season, he knows he plays an important part in this teams success. both on the field as a captain, but in the locker room, the weight room, and on the practice field, as a leader.

It's a role he embraces:

Starr and the Coyotes kickoff the 2013 season at home Saturday afternoon at 2:00pm with former Great West Conference member UC Davis, a team USD has played four of the last five seasons, with three of those games being decided by four points or less.