UND FOOTBALL: Former quarterback Danny Freund begins first season coaching the signal-callers
The UND football team has five quarterbacks in fall camp and not a single one has completed a collegiate pass. In charge of the five freshmen is a young coach in his first year with the group. But North Dakota head coach Chris Mussman has no worr...
The UND football team has five quarterbacks in fall camp and not a single one has completed a collegiate pass.
In charge of the five freshmen is a young coach in his first year with the group.
But North Dakota head coach Chris Mussman has no worries about the leader of the inexperienced signal-callers. He has plenty of faith in quarterbacks coach Danny Freund.
"He's been great for those young guys," Mussman said. "He's passionate about the program and the position. He's just a high-energy guy. I don't think he's ever had a bad day. He's just one of those upbeat guys."
Mussman developed that trust when he was calling plays as offensive coordinator at UND under Dale Lennon and Freund was his quarterback.
As a player, Freund went 16-6 as a two-year starter. He finished his career in 2008 as the program's most accurate passer. His 68.9 career completion percentage still tops the charts. He threw for 5,239 yards and 47 touchdowns, which both rank third on the all-time career lists at UND.
Those accomplishments resonate with redshirt freshman quarterbacks Ryan Bartels, Joe Mollberg and Jake Hanson, along with true freshmen Sam Riddle and Kurt Palendech.
"We know he didn't throw picks; he threw touchdowns and made plays with his feet," Bartels said.
More than the statistics, though, Freund has an infectious personality.
"He's a young guy, always flying around and it's fun to be around him," Bartels said. "Speaking for all of (the quarterbacks), we all love him. It's never a dull moment with him."
It's an attitude Mussman recalls fondly from Freund's time as a player. The coach can recall a 2008 game at South Dakota in which defensive back Drake Otto jumped on a fumble in bounds.
Before the play was completely over, Freund was jumping on Otto in celebration.
"He was so excited," Mussman said. "I had to yank him off the field. I thought we were going to get a penalty."
With that passion for football, maybe it's not that surprising that Freund only lasted one year using his finance degree in the corporate world after college.
"I wanted to coach full time and pursue my dreams," he said.
In his first year out of college, Freund returned to his high school alma mater and served as the quarterbacks coach on his dad's staff at Kenosha St. Joseph in Wisconsin.
Quarterbacking and coaching runs deep with the Freunds. As a prep athlete playing for his father, Bob, Danny earned Associated Press and Wisconsin Football Coaches' Association first team all-state honors as a senior and holds the state's single season record for touchdown passes (40).
After getting a taste of coaching with his dad, Freund spent the 2010 season as the quarterbacks coach at NCAA Division III Carthage College in his hometown of Kenosha.
In 2011, Mussman brought Freund back to Grand Forks. In his first two seasons with UND, Freund coached the running backs. At the time, the UND quarterbacks were coached by Greg Breitbach, who took a head job at Millersville (Pa.) University in the offseason.
"He was looking to get into the profession and for me it was easy," Mussman said of his 2011 decision to bring back Freund. "He knows what we're doing and he knows the schemes. Then when Greg (Breitbach) got the job, it was an easy transition for me to throw him in (as quarterbacks coach). It's a natural fit for us."
Freund's first year coaching quarterbacks at UND happened to land on a unique year in which the program returns such little experience at the position, but Freund said he enjoys having a youthful stable of quarterbacks.
"It's great to be working with those kids," Freund said. "It's such an important position on the team. You need to be the guy on offense your teammates can look up to.
"The cool thing about five freshmen is you can mold them. They come in from high school with different techniques and fundamentals. You get to mold them to what you want as far as mechanics and footwork."
Miller reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1121; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .