His bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in hand in the spring of 2016, Chris Streveler set out to find a home. It was time for a new football beginning, time for something different after being a quarterback converted to a wide receiver for the Gophers.
The Crystal Lake, Ill., native had two seasons of eligibility remaining and options at his disposal.
He wound at the University of South Dakota, earned the starting quarterback job for the Coyotes last year and is putting together a standout senior season.
“This was the only visit I took,” Streveler said of USD, located in Vermillion. “I fell in love with it.”
The same could be said about the Coyotes and their relationship with Streveler after last weekend.
The quarterback passed for 306 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 119 yards and three TDs as the Coyotes, an FCS team, knocked off FBS-level Bowling Green 35-27 on the road. The performance earned Streveler FCS national player of the week honors.
The victory was South Dakota’s second over an FBS opponent. The Coyotes’ first? A 41-38 triumph over Tim Brewster’s Gophers in 2010.
“You’ve always gotta feel good getting a win over an FBS opponent,” Streveler said. “Definitely a big win for us.”
He considers the Missouri Valley Conference, which also includes North Dakota State and South Dakota State, the equal to some FBS leagues. “This conference is no joke,” he said. “People say it’s FCS, but I’d say we have to be ranked up there with some of the mid-major FBS conferences.”
When Streveler was at Minnesota, started a game in place of an injured Mitch Leidner in 2014, rushing 18 times for 161 yards in a 24-7 victory over San Jose State. He passed seven times, completing one for 7 yards. “We were running zone read the whole game and they never really adjusted,” he said of the Spartans. “If it’s not broke, why fix it?”
Streveler found himself behind Leidner and later Demry Croft, so he moved to receiver but played little. He wanted to transfer but agreed with former coach Tracy Claeys that he’d go through spring practice and finish his degree first.
At USD, he found Minnesota connections in coach Bob Nielson, who guided Minnesota Duluth to a pair of NCAA Division II titles, and offensive coordinator Ted Schlafke, the Bulldogs’ starting QB on the 2008 championship team.
“I love getting to learn from Coach Schlafke,” said Streveler, who had 31 total TDs last year. “There’s always new things we’re putting in and so many different reads. It’s multidimensional. It’s a super fun offense to play in.”
But it hasn’t been only football for Streveler at South Dakota. He added a master’s degree in sports management to his Minnesota bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and is working on a second master’s in interdisciplinary studies. He has his eye on a sports sales career if pro football at some level doesn’t work out.
Streveler said he “absolutely” still follows the Gophers. He heard that Conor Rhoda, a former classmate, had won the starting QB job at Minnesota. “I shot him a text,” he said. “I was happy for him.’’
Randy Johnson covers college football for the Star Tribune.