Dec 27, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner (7) passes during the third quarter of the Texas Bowl against the Syracuse Orange at Reliant Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
On Thursday afternoon, Philip Nelson announced that he would be transferring from the Gopher football Program. This was probably shocking news to most Gophers fans who saw Nelson lead the Gophers to their first four game Big Ten winning streak since 1973. However, although the news and timing seemed surprising if you think about it — it’s really not. Nelson, was benched on several occasions this year in favor of redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner and if you studied Nelson’s body language and facial expressions on the sidelines, you could tell he seemed none too happy.
Maybe someone got in his ear about it. Like “I can’t believe that the Gophers benched you, aren’t you pissed?” or “Man, they just aren’t giving you an opportunity to get in rhythm.” Either way, he’s leaving and the Gophers must depend on another quarterback to be the future and the face of the program going into 2014 and hopefully beyond.
Leidner, of course, possesses the most experience having split time with Philip Nelson in 2013. Leidner is a big and powerful runner, but can also throw if needed. Leidner ran a pro-style offense in high school at Lakeville South. He’s a moose and gives the Gophers a physical presence in the downhill run game, but his passing still leaves a lot to be desired. The arm strength is there, the accuracy is not.
Streveler is a great dual-threat quarterback from Marion Central High School in Crystal Lake, Ill. He threw for 2,662 yards and 26 touchdowns in addition to 1,276 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground in his senior year. He seems to fit all the traits that offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover looks for to run his offense.
McKinzy is a three start recruit from Wyandotte High School, in Kansas City, Kan. He passed for 2527 yards and 26 touchdowns with 14 interceptions as a senior. He also rushed for 519 yards and nine touchdowns. He’ll be enrolling early so he can participate in spring practice. This will be critical if the true freshman is to have any realistic chance of winning the starting job. An argument can be made that he’s the most talented of the three candidates, although he’s also the most inexperienced.
Who’ll win the job?
I’d be very surprised if Mitch Leidner doesn’t start the season when the Gophers open against Eastern Illinois at TCF Bank Stadium. However, I’d also be surprised if he’s the only quarterback that gets significant snaps in 2014. Look for Chris Streveler to emerge and become the Gophers starting quarterback by seasons end. He fits this offense the best with his passing and running skill set. In fact, he looks a lot like Philip Nelson, both in size and skill. I always thought that Streveler was an underrated prospect coming out of high school. I think he becomes what Gophers fans always thought Philip Nelson aka “Mankato Jesus” would be. Look for true freshman Dimonic McKinzy to redshirt.