Isaac Fruechte, the former Vikings and Gophers receiver, doesn't always take a direct route.

But he often seems to get to where he's going.

Fruechte climbed the coaching ranks last month when he was hired as the University of North Dakota's offensive coordinator. He became the third person in January to hold that title after longtime coach Danny Freund left for South Dakota State. Then the Fighting Hawks' first hire, Jake Landry, didn't last long.

"Next day, [North Dakota State] offered, and he flipped," recalled Carl Fruechte, Isaac's father and the decorated Caledonia High School coach in southeast Minnesota.

The job found Fruechte, the 32-year-old former Caledonia track and football star who has consistently worked until opportunity knocked. He was a two-star recruit who needed a year at Rochester Community and Technical College before a four-year Gophers career. He went undrafted in the NFL and twice made the Vikings practice squad.

Coaching football was always his plan after playing.

That transition unexpectedly came when the Vikings cut him after a third training camp in 2017. The following year, he split his hours between a day job and working out at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse while trying to keep his NFL career going.

"I was training and working hard, trying to find a new camp and a new team," Fruechte said, "but also working construction to make ends meet."

In 2018, UW-La Crosse coach Mike Schmidt approached Fruechte and asked him to volunteer on the Division III staff. He began teaching what he knew: special teams and receivers. By Week 3, he was directing the show when the incumbent offensive coordinator was reassigned.

"I had never game-planned really until that year," Fruechte said. "I had never really known what it was like, but I knew coverages. I knew where the ball should go in the passing game and when. And I knew certain things with offensive line play. I just tried to keep things very similar and implement things I had learned as a player."

The team ended up going 7-3 and just missing the playoffs.

"I learned a lot; we had a lot of fun," he added. "You have to have great kids and great coaches around you to do that."

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Fruechte also needed to ditch his old-school flip phone, which couldn't handle a charge long enough to recruit in college football and keep contact with family. His wife, Kenzie, gave him an iPhone.

"She's like, look, I'm done dealing with this," Fruechte said.

The family is on the move to a fifth stop in seven years as Fruechte's career has taken them to Northern Iowa, Northern State and most recently Winona State.

"I know what it was like as a junior college player to a Big Ten player to an NFL player," he said. "I'm trying to be the coach I always wanted as a player. That's detail, that's honest, that's high-energy, passionate and caring about the kids more than just catching a ball or making a block."

Those attributes are what Fruechte said he appreciated most from his former coaches and mentors such as former Gophers coach Jerry Kill and ex-Vikings assistants George Stewart and Mike Priefer. He said all three have been invaluable resources while navigating the coaching world.

His parents, Becky and Carl Fruechte, have been there since day one. Carl, whose Caledonia Warriors have won 10 Class 2A titles under his watch, said he and Isaac chat once or twice a day. The talk naturally turns to coaching and building trust. They both lauded the power of being honest and telling players, "I don't know," when more study is required.

"I also told him, 'You're going to get fired someday,'" Carl Fruechte said. "Just handle it, be professional."

North Dakota players have already been getting the Fruechte lessons about persevering through whatever the season, or life, throws in their way.

"We're going to do everything we can to be an exciting brand of football, and do it the right way, which is important to me," Isaac Fruechte said. "I told our offensive team the other day that everybody knows deep down in themselves that there's a right and wrong way to do things. I told them there's three things I care about: you're tough to fight through some adversity, to be disciplined and to be consistent."