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Continued: Many options behind Leidner to fill Gophers QB role

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 19, 2014 - 9:19 AM

Background: Roden-McKinzy had offers from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, but he stuck with the Gophers after giving a verbal commitment in April. He graduated from high school early, so he could enroll in January and take part in spring practice, just as Nelson, Leidner and Streveler did. Roden-McKinzy will be the shortest quarterback on the roster, but there’s no questioning his arm strength. He has thrown 70-yard passes in practice, but he will need to improve his accuracy to succeed in the Big Ten. He’s a pass-first quarterback with the quickness to make big plays with his feet when needed.

Best hope: Leidner and Streveler are healthy and effective this fall, enabling Roden-McKinzy to redshirt. Once he learns the offense, he will be a very intriguing option.

Connor Rhoda

Year/height/weight: Redshirt freshman; 6-2; 180 pounds

Stats: He passed for 1,400 yards and 19 touchdowns, and rushed for 550 yards and three touchdowns in nine games as a senior at Cretin-Derham Hall.

Background: As a walk-on last year, Rhoda entered camp as the No. 5 quarterback. He climbed the ladder when Donovahn Jones converted to wide receiver, and when Streveler got injured, Rhoda wound up running the scout team offense.

Best hope: Rhoda keeps making strides, becoming a viable No. 3 quarterback option, while McKinzy redshirts.

Bottom line

Overall, there’s enough talent here for the Gophers to overcome Nelson’s departure. He had his struggles, completing just 50 percent of his passes in two seasons. There will be more growing pains with Leidner and Co., but there’s a lot of upside with this group, too.

 

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

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