Andy Greder / St. Paul Pioneer Press
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Eden Prairie's Mr. Do-Everything during the 2017 season rose above all other Minnesota high school players to win the Mr. Football award Sunday, Dec. 9. But Antonio Montero's college destination for next year is much less definitive. "We'll see how it shakes out. ... We'll see how that goes. ... I'll just have to stay patient and see what else comes," Montero repeated when discussing his views on opportunities with the Gophers, North Dakota State, Iowa State, Air Force and Illinois.
MINNEAPOLIS — IMG Academy had the most intimidating water boy you've ever seen during the 2016 football season. The 6-foot-9, nearly 400-pound Daniel Faalele had arrived at the Bradenton, Fla., college prep school without any football experience, so the native Australian's sporting activities were limited to practice during his junior season. On game days, he helped keep teammates hydrated. "People would look crazy when he came out and took the water to our kids," said Kevin Wright, IMG Academy's head football coach.
ST. PAUL — Elwin Fontaine opened the door to his small St. Paul apartment on Thursday morning, Dec. 7, and was greeted by Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay delivering him hot and cold lunches from Meals on Wheels. "So many of us need it," Fontaine said. "It's not only food, it's cheer." An enthusiastic Finlay joined Loons mascot "PK" and Meals on Wheels reps in delivering fresh food to residents in the neighborhoods around Allianz Field, the club's under-construction stadium set to open at Interstate 94 and Snelling Avenue in spring 2019.
MINNEAPOLIS—With less than two weeks left until the early signing period opens, the Gophers football program has just two vacancies in its 2018 recruiting class. Revised NCAA rules passed in April have further capped the number of recruits Football Bowl Subdivision schools can sign each year to 25, meaning Minnesota's 23 current pledges are bumping up against the cap.
MINNEAPOLIS — Gophers recruiting target Curtis Dunlap backed away from his oral commitment to the Florida Gators on Tuesday morning, Dec. 5. "I've decided to decommit from the University of Florida and open my recruitment back up," Dunlap tweeted. Dunlap pledged to the Gators in July, then received offer from Minnesota on Nov. 10 and now plans to visit Minneapolis this weekend, according to 247sports.com.
ST. PAUL — Minnesota United president Nick Rogers, who was instrumental in keeping pro soccer in Minnesota in 2012, is leaving the organization, United said Tuesday, Dec. 5. Rogers was a key voice in current owner Bill McGuire's decision to buy the Minnesota Stars, a lower-level club owned by the North American Soccer League. Since 2013, Rogers oversaw the club during its four subsequent seasons in NASL and helped in the pitch to join MLS as an expansion franchise and then its first season in the top domestic league from March to October.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers' 2015 football recruiting class has been ravaged by departures. As of Tuesday, Nov. 28, only half of the 24 scholarship players in former coach Jerry Kill's last group in Dinkytown remain on coach P.J. Fleck's roster. In addition, running back Shannon Brooks, the best player in that class, missed the final four games of the 2017 season because of recurring concussion symptoms. Fleck ruled out Brooks before the second-to-last game against Northwestern on Nov. 18, saying Brooks would be out "probably for a while."
MINNEAPOLIS—Two days after Gophers starting quarterback Demry Croft asked to leave the program, Minnesota received an oral commitment from junior college quarterback Vic Viramontes to join its 2018 recruiting class, he announced Monday on Twitter. "I can't wait to play for the Golden Gophers! #RTB," Viramontes wrote, using the hashtag for coach P.J. Fleck's "Row the Boat" mantra.
MINNEAPOLIS—After starting the final six games this season, Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft will leave the football program, a school official said Sunday night, Nov. 26. "Demry asked Coach (P.J.) Fleck for his release after (Saturday's) game, and coach will grant him that release," spokesman Paul Rovnak texted the Pioneer Press. Croft made his request once the Gophers lost 31-0 to fifth-ranked Wisconsin in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe at TCF Bank Stadium. Croft, who has two years of eligibility remaining, could seek a transfer to another school.
MINNEAPOLIS — It's necessary — cathartic, even — to turn the page to next year after the Gophers were outscored by a combined 70-0 against Northwestern and Wisconsin to squash this season. After the Saturday, Nov. 25, 31-0 loss to the No. 5 Badgers, Minnesota (5-7, 2-7 Big Ten) missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 2012.