Needing a quarterback, the Gophers landed their coveted recruiting target Monday. Vic Viramontes, a dual-threat junior college quarterback from Riverside (Calif.) City College, announced on Twitter that he has verbally committed to the Gophers.
“I would like to announce that I am officially committed to the University of Minnesota! #RowTheBoat” Viramontes tweeted. “I can’t wait to play for the Golden Gophers!”
Viramontes’ announcement comes two days after Demry Croft, a sophomore who started the final six games for the Gophers, asked coach P.J. Fleck for his release from the program following the season-ending 31-0 loss to Wisconsin. A school spokesman confirmed that Fleck would grant Croft’s release.
Viramontes, a freshman at Riverside and a transfer from California, passed for 1,868 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 1,346 yards and 21 TDs for Riverside, which lost in the SoCal championship game on Saturday. The Norco, Calif., native spent the 2016 season as a redshirt at Cal, after originally verbally committing to Michigan in high school. He would have three seasons of eligibility remaining with Minnesota.
Riverside’s coach, Tom Craft, said Viramontes found the right fit.
“He called me up and said, ‘Coach, it’s everything I want. The coaching staff was great, the whole experience was good and I’m ready to commit,’ ” Craft said. “… That coaching staff did a great job of framing that experience. I’m really happy he decided to pick Minnesota.”
The 6-1, 230-pounder began his visit with Fleck and the Gophers on Sunday. Rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports and as the No. 1 dual-threat QB among junior college players in the Class of 2018, Viramontes also was heavily recruited by Kansas and received an offer from Mississippi last week.
Monday night, Croft posted a statement on Twitter saying he's transferring at the end of the semester. “Due to the unfortunate situation I have decided to leave the football program and the University of Minnesota. I was falsely accused of damaging a door. Which I was indefinitely suspended for. The video clearly shows my innocence.’’
Croft was suspended for two games by Fleck for an undisclosed rules violation before returning to start the final six games.
With Croft’s departure, Viramontes will join a quarterback competition that includes Tanner Morgan, a freshman who spent this season as a redshirt; and Seth Green, the former East Ridge standout who will be a third-year sophomore next season.
The Gophers, who finished 5-7 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten, need improvement at QB. They rank 122nd nationally in passing offense (126.1 yards per game), and Croft completed five or fewer passes in four of his six Big Ten starts. Against Wisconsin, he completed three of nine passes for 40 yards, a week after he went 2-for-11 for 43 yards with three interceptions in a 39-0 loss at Northwestern.
Viramontes completed 59.4 percent of his passes, averaging 155.7 yards per game and rushed for 112.2 yards per game.
Still, Register depart
A pair of Gophers receivers — junior Rashad Still and sophomore Hunter Register — announced they were transferring Monday. Still, who caught two passes for 68 yards this season, said on Twitter, “It’s hard to leave, but there’s a new path I must take.’’ Still did not dress for Saturday’s finale against Wisconsin after starting the previous week against Northwestern. Register did not catch a pass this season but had three tackles on special teams.
Connelly had concussions
Former Gophers tackle Nick Connelly, who retired from football in October, said he gave up the sport after suffering his fifth concussion on Oct. 7 at Purdue.