Four newest Gophers players, including QB, enroll for spring

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 21, 2014 - 11:12 PM

Dimonic Roden-McKinzy, a dual threat from Kansas, enrolled at Minnesota early and could be in the mix for the backup job.

Quarterback Dimonic Roden-McKinzy graduated early from high school in Kansas so he could enroll at Minnesota this semester and take part in spring practice starting in March.

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One week after Philip Nelson left the Gophers in search of a more pass-friendly offense, a new quarterback arrived on campus Tuesday who believes the team’s offense suits him perfectly.

Dimonic Roden-McKinzy, a dual-threat quarterback from Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kan., graduated early so he could begin classes this week and take part in spring practice.

Mitch Leidner is Minnesota’s probable starter at quarterback this fall, but Roden-McKinzy will be battling redshirt freshmen Chris Streveler and Conor Rhoda for the backup job.

Roden-McKinzy faces a steep learning curve, like any first-year college player, but from all accounts, his skill set should suit the Gophers well.

He said he likes the offense because it puts the quarterback in multiple formations — pistol, shotgun or under center.

“All of that is combined in the NFL, and that is part of my goal,” Roden-McKinzy said last week. “So yeah, it’s the right offense for me.”

The NFL might be Roden- McKinzy’s eventual goal, but he knows he has a long way to go to become an effective college quarterback.

“I just want to come in and learn,” he said. “I don’t want to have that big head. I’m going to work hard and learn the offense and just elevate my IQ for the game.”

The 6-2, 214-pound Roden-McKinzy had offers from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas but stuck with the Gophers after giving a verbal commitment last April.

He has spent years working with Skip Stitzell, a quarterback instructor who also has tutored Josh Freeman, Blaine Gabbert, Nathan Scheelhaase and Max Shortell.

“He can be as good as any of the guys I’ve worked with,” Stitzell said. “He’s a very, very good athlete. And he’s one of those guys who has learned how to throw the ball well.”

He also lettered in basketball and track and field in high school.

Last season Roden-McKinzy completed 53 percent of his passes, threw 26 touchdown passes and rushed for nine touchdowns.

He was intercepted 12 times. Stitzell said the misfires often were the result of trying to do too much on a 5-5 team.

“When he’s really on top of his mechanics, he can be very accurate,” Stitzell said.

Asked why Roden-McKinzy will be a good fit for the Gophers, Stitzell said, “Because he can run and throw. It seems like Jerry Kill has always liked the Jordan Lynch-type guy at Northern Illinois, who can run if he has to and also throw the ball accurately.”

Three other newcomers

Roden-McKinzy is one of four Gophers football newcomers who began classes Tuesday. The other three are junior-college transfers: linebacker Cody Poock and fullbacks Miles Thomas and Riley Oharah.

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