From Whittier, Calif., on Saturday night, to Dinkytown on Sunday and back to Riverside, Calif., on Monday night, Vic Viramontes had a whirlwind 56 hours.
“Busy day, busy week,’’ he said Tuesday, sounding not tired but excited.
Viramontes, a junior college quarterback from Riverside City College, verbally committed to the Gophers and coach P.J. Fleck on Monday. He has shut down his recruiting, will enroll at Minnesota in January and will compete for the starting quarterback job beginning in spring practice.
“I wanted a school where I could come in and compete for the job, get to show the coaching staff what I could do, and just a fair opportunity,’’ said Viramontes, who is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 dual-threat QB at the junior college level in the 2018 recruiting class. “That’s all I want.’’
Viramontes, who has three years of eligibility remaining, might be the front-runner to be the Gophers’ starter next fall. With 2017 starters Demry Croft transferring and Conor Rhoda graduating, Minnesota does not have a QB who has thrown a collegiate pass. Viramontes’ competition likely will be Tanner Morgan, a freshman who redshirted this season, and Seth Green, who’ll be a third-year sophomore.
Viramontes led Riverside to the Southern California Football Association championship game Saturday in Whittier, where the Tigers lost 75-16 to Fullerton College. Riverside went 10-2, with Viramontes, a freshman transfer from Cal, passing for 1,868 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushing for 1,346 yards and 21 TDs.
“I just love playing football,’’ he said. “Whatever the defense gives me, I take.’’
Sunday’s arrival in Minneapolis was Viramontes’ first time in Minnesota. He spent time with Fleck and offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, and met a handful of players, including running back Rodney Smith and defensive end Carter Coughlin. He liked what he saw, especially from Fleck.
“I love the energy. I love how he’s a young coach,’’ Viramontes said. “How demanding he is, I kind of like that in a coach. … They keep you on your toes and keep you a better man on and off the field.’’
And when he toured TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday night?
“Oh, man. It was beautiful, especially because we went there at nighttime and they had a nice little video playing for me,’’ he said.
Riverside’s coach, Tom Craft, sees Viramontes improving through his approach to the game.
“One of his strengths is his attitude,’’ said Craft, a former head coach at San Diego State. “He’s an extremely hard worker, and he’s a really polite young man. He’s not entitled like a lot of kids are these days.’’
Viramontes received an offer from the Gophers on Oct. 30, and Fleck visited Viramontes and Craft at Riverside on Nov. 6. Craft’s advice to Viramontes before he left for the visit to Minnesota was: Get to know the coaching staff and players, and make sure the fit was right.
“You have to be certain if you commit to them, that’s where you’re going to go,’’ Craft said, “and be strong enough not to try to reverse that or get infatuated with another school that comes around late.’’
As a senior at Norco (Calif.) High School, Viramontes gave a verbal commitment to Michigan but opted for Cal because he said it felt better for him and his family. When Cal fired Sonny Dykes and replaced him with Justin Wilcox, who brought in his own quarterbacks, Viramontes transferred to Riverside.
Now, he’s headed to the Gophers and the Big Ten.
“A lot of my teammates said, ‘I see you in the Big Ten. That’s where I see you at,’ ’’ he said. “I never really thought, ‘I want to go to this conference. I want to go here.’ The way I thought about it was I wanted to go to the school where I had the best opportunity, where I vibe with the coaches, players.’’