Found April 05, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS The University of Minnesota football team's recruiting class last year consisted of two of the state's top prep quarterbacks. One saw the field and wound up as the starter for more than half the season. The other took a redshirt year, spending his days as the quarterback on the scout team. The former, of course, is Philip Nelson, who started seven games for Minnesota in 2012 after MarQueis Gray and Max Shortell went down with injuries. The latter is Mitch Leidner, who enters 2013 as a redshirt freshman. While Nelson appears to once again be the Gophers' starter at least this spring Leidner has seen his repetitions in practice take a big jump from a year ago. During spring practices, Minnesota has used a rotation of Nelson and Leidner with the team's top two offenses. The Gophers' passing attack is now in the hands of a sophomore and a redshirt freshman. "I've noticed both Phil and Mitch, they've both become much more mature," said tight end Drew Goodger. "They're the leaders of this team now that MarQueis is gone. They've been stepping up." Nelson was the top high school quarterback in Minnesota when he graduated from Mankato West, but Leidner wasn't far behind. The Lakeville South alum was ranked as the No. 56 quarterback in the country by Scout.com only 10 spots lower than Nelson and was yet another prized recruit in Kill's 2012 class. Ideally, Minnesota would have redshirted both Nelson and Leidner to give each young quarterback a year to learn in practice and adjust to the college game. But circumstances dictated that Nelson be thrust into the starting role midway through the season. Leidner was able to preserve his redshirt, however, something he feels will pay dividends during his time at Minnesota. "It definitely helps. Getting those reps against that first team, I don't think you can get anything better than that your redshirt freshman year," Leidner said. At 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, Leidner is a bigger, more physical quarterback than the 6-foot-2 Nelson. That doesn't mean he lacks the speed to tuck the ball and run, something that has been a big part of Minnesota's offense under head coach Jerry Kill. Leidner believes he's gotten faster from last year after working with Gophers strength and conditioning coach Eric Klein in the offseason. "Last summer, I was able to cut down some body fat with Coach Klein and put on some muscle," Leidner said. "I was able to get my speed up throughout the season and this offseason. This winter, I was definitely able to get faster thanks to Coach Klein and the crew there." Kill, entering his third season at the helm, has already noticed an extra burst in Leidner's step this spring. "His athletic skill set since he's came here, he's worked hard in the weight room with Coach Klein," Kill said. "He can run. He is big and strong. He's got a good skill set, good arm. He just needs the repetition." Leidner is finally getting those reps as the team's No. 2 quarterback after spending time last year emulating other teams' quarterbacks. During his redshirt year, Leidner shared the Gophers' Work Team Player of the Year honors along with running back Cole Banham. As tough as it may be for a freshman to practice every day and not see the field all season, Leidner is grateful for what he learned during his redshirt year. "From scout team, you're running Nebraska's offense and all those different offenses with running quarterbacks," he said. "You learn how to run the ball and set up blocks, read defenders and play, so it's good." This fall, Leidner will be joined in practice by his younger brother, Matt, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound offensive lineman who will walk on with the Gophers this year. As a freshman especially as a walk-on there's no guarantee that Matt Leidner will play in 2013. But he can take notes from his older brother and the work Mitch Leidner put in during his redshirt year. "He had a couple schools turn away late with other commitments. Luckily Coach Kill had offered him a walk-on," Leidner said. "He hopped on board right away. He's a hard worker. It runs in the family." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

B1G Spring Football Preview: The Minnesota Golden Gophers

Spring football is now in full swing across the entire college landscape. Chances are your favorite team has been at it for at least a few weeks now, in preparation for another stellar college football season. It’s time to lace ‘em up, shake the dirt off and get after it. Here at Know It All Football, we are previewing the entire B1G conference and keeping tabs on your squad...

Richard Pitino’s Contract With Golden Gophers Features Use of Private Jet, Bonuses for Player GPAs

Like father, like son? We’re not sure if Rick Pitino has ever had any odd items in one of his contracts, but his son, Richard Pitino, who earlier this week was hired as the new head basketball coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, sure does. The younger Pitino was officially introduced at his new job Friday after after spending a year leading Florida International University,...

Minnesota players eager to work with Pitino

MINNEAPOLIS Andre Hollins used the word "weird" to describe the last two weeks. The Gophers guard and the rest of his teammates saw their coach fired last Monday, one day after losing to Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Ten days later, Minnesota hired 30-year-old Richard Pitino to replace Smith."I was telling people it was kind of like being at...
Golden Gophers News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.