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U wide receiver Hmielewski gives up football to focus on baseball

Drew Hmielewski, a multisport athlete from Marshall, Minn., who was a redshirt freshman for the Gophers football team last fall, has left the football program to concentrate on baseball, a university spokesman confirmed Thursday.

The 6-1, 204-pound wide receiver played in nine games last season, returning five punts for 25 yards. He did not have a reception. He missed the 2016 season because of an injury.

Hmielewski, an outfielder, spent the 2017 baseball season as a redshirt. The 2016 Marshall High School graduate set a school record with a .471 batting average as a junior and was named Big South Conference player of the year that season.

The football program also announced the addition of two transfers and seven incoming freshmen who enrolled in the spring semester.

The transfers are defensive back Bishop McDonald, who played two seasons at Minnesota Duluth, and True Thompson, a wide receiver from Iowa Western Community College and the son of Darrell Thompson, the Gophers’ all-time leading rusher. McDonald, a former North St. Paul High School standout, made 78 tackles, defended 16 passes and intercepted three passes in 23 games at Minnesota Duluth. Thompson, a former Robbinsdale Armstrong standout, played in 10 games in 2017, catching four passes for 65 yards at Iowa Western. He spent the 2016 season as a redshirt.

The seven freshmen who joined the team for spring semester are: quarterback Zack Annexstad and offensive linemen Curtis Dunlap and Daniel Faalele of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.; quarterback Vic Viramontes of Riverside (Calif.) City College; linebacker Thomas Rush of Marysville, Ohio; defensive lineman Alex Reigelsperger of Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio; and offensive lineman Nathan Boe of Lakeville North.

Fleck makes changes to Gophers football staff



Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck on Wednesday announced changes to his coaching staff, including adding a junior college head coach as an assistant coach.

Fleck hired Clay Patterson, head coach of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, as an on-field assistant coach in a role to be determined. Fleck also promoted quality control assistant Joe Rossi to defensive line coach, and announced that Bryce Paup, the former NFL standout who was defensive line coach in 2017, will be the team’s pass rush specialist coach. Special teams coordinator Rob Wenger also will coach the outside linebackers.

Fleck also promoted David Parker from graduate assistant to quality control assistant, replacing Rossi, and added Donald Celiscar and Michael Priefer Jr. as graduate assistants. Celiscar, who played for Fleck at Western Michigan, will work with the defense. Priefer, the son of Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, will work with special teams.

The moves come two days after Maurice Linguist, who was promoted from defensive backs coach to assistant head coach in December, left the Gophers to become defensive backs coach at Texas A&M.

Patterson was head coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for two seasons, leading the Norsemen to a 9-3 record and the Southwest Junior College Football Conference championship in 2017 after a 5-5 mark the year before. Patterson, who also served as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was named conference coach of the year in 2017.

Rossi joined the Gophers in 2017 after coaching at Rutgers from 2012 to ’15, where he first was special teams coordinator and later defensive coordinator.

Parker became a graduate assistant for the Gophers last March and worked under defensive coordinator Robb Smith. He also worked with Smith at Arkansas as a quality control assistant.

Celiscar was a defensive back for Western Michigan from 2011 to ’14, playing his final two seasons under Fleck. He started 40 of 48 games and finished with 10 interceptions.

Priefer, a Mound Westonka High School graduate, played defensive back at Wisconsin-Eau Claire.