Former Gophers receiver Isaac Fruechte is trying to catch on with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent, and he said he was surprised to make the training camp roster.
"I was trying to go in with a mind-set of go in and play as hard as you can, make as many plays as you can, and when they called, I was very surprised but fortunate and very blessed to have the opportunity," Fruechte said. "I was fortunate enough to come to the walk-on tryout and be able to make some plays and be able to get signed. I was very fortunate for that to happen, so it was a lot of fun."
So far in the preseason, Freuchte has caught two passes for 16 yards. In his senior season with the Gophers, he had 18 receptions for 292 yards and one touchdown. He talked about going from being one of the most important players on a team to a role player.
"I mean it's up and down, you just have to take advantage of the snaps you get and make sure that you're making plays and doing the right thing when you're out there," he said. "[The Vikings] have a lot of great receivers and a lot of great special teams players. It's stiff competition, but that's what makes you better and can help you down the road."
Different, yet similar
Coming from college to the NFL has given Fruechte a chance to view a whole new system and style of playing. He talked about the differences and similarities between Gophers coach Jerry Kill and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
"I think they're very similar guys," he said. "They're big-time football guys, and you have to love that about them. They're real intense, they want things done correctly and fast and efficiently. They're very similar in their coaching styles, and I love being around those guys."
He also said a big difference in the NFL is the sheer amount of time you spend on football, and the Vikings' offensive system is slightly different from the Gophers.
"With college and everything, you have to go to class and things of that nature, but I think the [Vikings'] system, the offensive mind-set is a little bit different, not so much ground and pound but we want to get after it and run the ball here and take some shots … in the passing game," he said.
How about going from Mitch Leidner to Teddy Bridgewater as his starting quarterback?
"Well, you know, Teddy is obviously a great quarterback, being a professional and all," Fruechte said. "He's a great leader, got a great arm, great accuracy, really knows how to command the huddle. Mitch also is a great leader, they're very similar, I think, with their leadership styles, but Teddy is just tremendous throwing the ball, as well as Mitch is, but Mitch is more of a running threat, too."
With only two weeks to go in the preseason, Fruechte was asked what he has learned from being with the Vikings.
"Want me to write you a new book on it?" he asked. "I've got so much written down in my notes. I have learned so much. It's so awesome to be here, and I'm just very fortunate to be around these guys because they're very mindful. I'm excited about what we're doing and excited to be here. It's a lot of fun for us."
Lastly, Freuchte was asked about the Gophers' chances this season.
"I'm hoping they have a great year," he said. "I'm looking forward to that first game against TCU. That will be a tough test. They have a tough nonconference schedule, so that will be tough. But hopefully they can really put some games together and play well."
You would have to go back to Justin Morneau's peak to find a Twins player hitting with the combination of power and average that rookie Miguel Sano is doing now at the age of 22.
Heading into Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay, Sano was hitting .308 with a .400 on-base percentage over his past 10 games with five home runs, 12 RBI, 11 runs scored and two doubles. His slugging percentage of .580 this season is tremendous; consider that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper leads all of baseball in the category at .639.
For the season, Sano is hitting .284 with a .392 on-base percentage over 46 games. What's really been impressive about Sano is his eye at the plate; he's drawn 30 walks, the same number teammate Torii Hunter has this season in 109 games.
While Bill Smith took a lot of heat during his time as Twins general manager, it's worth noting that he took a big risk signing Sano in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic to a deal with a $3.15 million signing bonus — the largest international signing bonus in Twins history — and that decision is paying off for the Twins in 2015.
•A number of Gophers football players who were drafted this year are having strong NFL preseasons. Tight end Maxx Williams is tied for the Ravens' lead with five receptions and has 61 receiving yards. … Running back David Cobb is leading the Titans in rushing with 79 yards on 19 carries and continues to be a favorite to win the starting job in Tennessee . … Safety Cedric Thompson is tied for the Dolphins' lead with nine tackles. … And linebacker Damien Wilson, whom the Vikings will face on Saturday in Dallas, has six tackles in two games.
•The Twins' schedule from Sept. 13 to the end of the season on Oct. 4 includes 13 home games and only seven road games, which could have a great effect on the team's attendance for the year and could depend on if they keep winning.
•A crowded local sports schedule next Thursday: The Vikings will be on Ch. 9 facing the Titans in Nashville at 7 p.m. An hour later on ESPN, the Gophers football team will face No. 2 TCU in the season opener at TCF Bank Stadium. The Twins also play that day against the White Sox at Target Field and on FSN, but luckily it's a 12:10 p.m. game.
•Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng continues to dominate the FIBA Afro-Basket tournament in Tunisia. Dieng led Senegal to the quarterfinals with a 79-48 victory over Uganda on Wednesday and scored 23 points to go along with 17 rebounds. He is leading the tournament by averaging 25.2 points and 14.8 rebounds per game.
•Team Canada played its final tuneup before the FIBA Americas Championship, which starts Aug. 31 in Mexico City, with a 85-80 victory over Argentina.
Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins had 18 points on 6-for-13 shooting, including 2-for-4 on three-pointers. His Wolves teammate, Anthony Bennett, recorded a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
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