Gophers recruit Riley Sunram sets the tone for his football team with his physical dominance, but he also basically never comes off the field.
He's played offense, defense and special teams as a kicker for 6-0 Kindred in North Dakota.
Making an impact in all three phases isn't that unusual until you see Sunram, who is a 6-6, 290-pound, Power Five-recruited offensive and defensive lineman who also is his team's starting kicker and punter.
"He just brings a physical presence to the football field on Friday nights," first-year Kindred coach Eric Burgad said. "It's super easy for our guys to just rally behind that because of his consistency and high level of play. He's a tremendous asset."
Sunram has been kicking for the past two seasons at Kindred. Funny story is that he would have done it sooner, but his older sister, Jordyn, became the first female in North Dakota high school history to score points in a football championship game. Kindred won a state title in 2021.
"He had a good leg," Burgad said of Riley. "But his older sister was a soccer player and started messing around one night kicking PATs. And she was nailing them. So she stole his job her senior year. She went on to hit a couple extra points and a field goal in the state championship game."
College football coaches, though, were flocking to the town of less than 1,000 near Fargo because of Sunram's ability to be a potential impact talent on both sides of the line. He committed to Gophers coach P.J. Fleck in the spring after receiving scholarship offers from schools such as Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri, Duke, and Miami (Fla.).
"Riley is so dang coachable," Burgad said. "We have strong offensive line and defensive line coaches here. He's just a sponge. He wants to do everything his coaches ask of him. He's always perfecting his craft. He knows he has a high ceiling with a ton of growth to be made."
The Gophers are known for their development in the trenches. And they're not afraid to play young talent. True freshman Greg Johnson has received offensive line reps this season. Redshirt freshmen Anthony Smith has been used heavily in the defensive line rotation.
The question is will Sunram play defensive or offensive line with the Gophers as a freshman?
"I like Sunram regardless of position designation but am admittedly intrigued by the idea of him flipping to an [interior offensive lineman] projection," 247Sports recruiting scout Gabe Brooks said last week. "Gotta like the athletic profile with basketball and track and field reps."
A three-sport standout, Sunram was on a national preseason ranking of the freakiest athletes in high school football this year, which included fellow Gophers commit Koi Perich of Esko.
Sunram, who played on a state runner-up basketball team as a sophomore, suffered a shoulder injury and missed his junior year on the hardcourt last season. But he recovered to put up impressive throwing numbers in track and field. He threw 171 feet, 7 inches in discus to win the state title and set a school record.
"He's a stellar athlete," Burgad said. "I know [the Gophers] coaching staff will take care of him. They have his best interest in mind. Anything they want to coach him on, he's going to be responsive to that."