The Gophers football team had only about one week off between the school year ending and summer session, with classes and player-run practices, beginning. 

But Carter Coughlin wanted to take an extra few days. And go to Las Vegas. And coach P.J. Fleck gave his senior defensive end an enthusiastic OK.

That’s because it wasn’t a vacation that attracted the Eden Prairie native to the desert. No, he spent a recent few days on the Nevada-Las Vegas campus working with Denver Broncos great Von Miller and other NFL-caliber players at Miller’s pass-rush summit.

“He came to me asked if he could go. I’m sitting there going, ‘Well, do I want my leading sack-getter to go out to go train with Von Miller and see if he can get any better?’” Fleck said Monday at the Coaches Caravan stop in Chaska. “’Sounds like a good idea.’”

Fleck said Coughlin obtained the invite to the summit himself, thanks to some connections his family has, as its full of several former Gophers athletes. The coach and player met Monday to discuss Coughlin’s experience, and Fleck said the former linebacker “loved it.”

Coughlin used to study Miller’s film as a learning tool when Fleck switched him to a rush end. Fleck said Coughlin is better the closer he is to the line of scrimmage and would have blitzed often if he remained a linebacker. What Coughlin can learn from Miller, Fleck said, is how to rely on technique instead of size in his position. Coughlin is 6-4, 245 pounds.

Despite some extra high-level training this summer, Fleck said he’s been most impressed with how Coughlin has worked to bond his teammates off the field.

“Good things we have weekends off, he’s taking everybody back to his lake house. It’s amazing,” Fleck said. “I mean, I ask so many people, ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ ‘Oh, we’re going to Carter’s lake house.’ And I ask the next person, ‘Yeah, we’re going to Carter’s this weekend.’ So I love how he’s bringing our team together that way of providing experiences for our whole team that maybe a lot of times they can’t have.”

Other notes:
-Fleck said nine freshman reported to campus Monday, with the majority arriving this past January for spring ball. He called the group “special” and different-looking than previous incoming classes in terms of its elevated abilities. 

-Fleck’s in the midst of camp season and recruiting, and he said he’s had more 2021 class recruits out to campus and at camps than ever before, which he takes as a positive sign that the program is fully looking ahead two years.

-The athletics department renewed its relationship with iHeartMedia Minneapolis through 2022-23 and will continue to have its games and coaches' shows broadcast on KFAN, KTLK and KFAN Plus.

-In the wake of the Gophers releasing junior college player Gervarrius Owens from his national letter of intent so the safety could instead attend Houston this fall, Fleck explained this:
“It’s just the evolution of recruiting. Guys who do the right things will stay, and we’ll continue to uphold the integrity of our culture and our program. Anybody who decides to go, just like anywhere in the country, where people leave programs, or people go somewhere else that might be a better opportunity or better fit for them, we support them 100 percent.  We want people to have opportunities. Just because your opportunity didn’t work out here doesn’t mean it can’t work out somewhere else. And for every one that goes, one comes in. And we’re very fortunate for the young men that will be coming here as well.”

Here's a video from the Caravan:

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Gophers release junior college safety Owens from National Letter of Intent

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