Nick Connelly, an offensive tackle for the Gophers before retiring from football last year because of concussions, has been diagnosed with cancer. Chuck Connelly, Nick’s father, announced on Twitter that Nick has Burkitt lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“From our family to theirs, from our football family, our university, our state, we’re rolling with Nick. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as he continues to fight,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday.
Connelly, a former Red Wing High School standout, started five games for the Gophers last year. He suffered a concussion in the Oct. 7 game at Purdue and retired shortly afterward.
Trial by fire
When quarterback Zack Annexstad suffered a left ankle injury in the first quarter Saturday, he didn’t have to look far for somebody to blame. It was himself.
“He tweaked his ankle a little bit — why? Because he doesn’t make a protection call,” Fleck said. “… I didn’t do a good enough job of coaching it. Coach [Kirk] Ciarrocca didn’t do a good enough job of coaching it. [Annexstad] always makes the call, but he didn’t this time and got his ankle hurt. … But he learned, and he’ll joke with you about it. ‘I learned my lesson with that call. I’m never going to miss that call again.’ ”
Annexstad was cleared by trainers to return to the game and played until late into the third quarter. Fleck on Monday said Annexstad is on track to play in Saturday’s Big Ten opener at Maryland.
“He was back at practice today, every rep,” Fleck said. “That’s what this football team needs.”
Maryland fell to 2-1 Saturday with a 35-14 loss to Temple, and interim coach Matt Canada put the blame squarely on his own shoulders.
“When you look at the offensive production that we did not have and the way that we played, that falls on me,” said Canada, whose team passed for only 63 yards against the Owls. “We’re going to do a better job all around, and hopefully, it’s going to be a much better result for us.’’