CANNON FALLS, MINN. – Gophers football recruit Rashod Bateman showed off his new tattoo on Twitter this past weekend. It has “RTB” in big letters inked at the top of his forearm, representing his next coach’s “Row The Boat” slogan.
The four-star wide receiver from Tift County High School in Georgia stayed committed to Minnesota this year, despite late scholarship offers from Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M.
“I told him he should’ve done that when he [verbally] committed,” P.J. Fleck joked Monday to fans attending the Gophers Road Trip event. “It would’ve been a lot less stressful. When you put ‘RTB,’ the block ‘M’ and ‘Ski-U-Mah’ on your arm, that’s a young man who is all into our culture, all into us as a staff, all into the University of Minnesota and what it’s about. And he’s got 18 more of his brothers coming with him.”
The 6-2, 180-pound Bateman wasn’t swayed to the SEC and now will join Demetrius Douglas and Chris Autman-Bell as young receivers competing for playing time. That will be one of many training camp battles to watch at the other end of this summer. Fleck said freshmen quarterbacks Tanner Morgan (redshirt) and Zack Annexstad (true) and offensive linemen Curtis Dunlap Jr. (true) and Daniel Faalele (true) are two more playing-time competitions to keep an eye on.
“There will probably be 17-18 freshmen on this football team with major roles this year,” Fleck said.
Morgan was the most impressive quarterback in the Gophers spring game last month. Fleck still hasn’t decided if he will name a starter going into fall camp, but called Morgan a “winner” since high school.
“He reminds me of Zach Terrell at Western Michigan who we had,” Fleck said. “Where all [Terrell] did was win games, but he had to build it. He had to fail to grow. We’re going to have quarterbacks who come in and haven’t thrown a college pass yet. But that’s the exciting part.”
Volleyball Final Four at Target Center
Gophers volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon knows that having the Final Four at Target Center this year is motivation for his players.
McCutcheon is looking forward to having the game’s biggest event in his backyard Dec. 13 and 15. His Gophers open their season Aug. 24 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against Florida State at the same venue.
“It would be nice to start there and finish there,” McCutcheon said. “To have the Big Ten/ACC Challenge first year here and at the Target Center was kind of a dry run for the NCAA tournament. It was really cool it worked out that way.”
• Some wrestling news on the first day of the road trip: The Gophers hired former Wisconsin assistant Trevor Brandvold as an assistant, coach Brandon Eggum announced. Brandvold, who spent six years with the Badgers, replaces Dustin Schlatter, who leaves the program to be the coach of the Minnesota Regional Training Center team, Minnesota Storm.
• The No. 15 Gophers baseball team swept the Big Ten weekly awards after its weekend sweep of Indiana. Junior shortstop Terrin Vavra earned player of the week honors and Patrick Fredrickson was named pitcher and freshman of the week.
• Gophers softball outfielder Maddie Houlihan was named Big Ten player of the week after the junior went 9-for-18 with two home runs and 11 RBI over five games.