When Winston DeLattiboudere saw pictures of his relatives in Jamaica during their graduation ceremony, he noticed they didn’t have any caps and gowns on their special day.
At the time, he told his mom there had to be something he could do to support them. So he stowed those ideas away. When the Baltimore native was working on a neighborhood project through the Hmong International Academy, those thoughts of giving back materialized again.
DeLattiboudere thought there had to be a way to combine his experiences in an effort to give back — especially using his position as a Division I athlete.
There was. The senior ultimately landed on a school supplies drive in which fans could donate notebooks, pens, pencils, anything they could. Bins were available at practice Friday for Gophers fans to contribute items.
The supplies will be donated to the Hmong academy and Rock Primary School in Jamaica, where DeLattiboudere has relatives.
“When I got the chance to play college football, I was always going to push and give back to elevate the community my family comes from,” DeLattiboudere said. “It was such a struggle for my family to come over and immigrate to this country.”
The drive came about when DeLattiboudere bounced the idea off teammates, one day chatting up Micah Dew-Treadway. The other defensive linemen loved it, and finally, DeLattiboudere had an outlet to give back.
DeLattiboudere, a 6-3, 260-pound defensive end, was one of 93 student-athletes named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list in July. The trophy goes to the player who “best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”
“We have such a beautiful platform being at a university like this, playing college football, that I feel like it would be kind of doing yourself a disservice not to give back to the community,” DeLattiboudere said.
Aside from the Big Ten Network visiting practice on Friday, the Gophers had another guest: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany.
Delany, who has held the position for the past 30 years, is retiring in January. Kevin Warren, Vikings chief operating officer, will succeed him. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck and the team gave Delany a team-signed oar and a No. 1 jersey with his name on it before practice Friday.
“You put that wherever you’re retiring,” Fleck said to the commissioner.
Left tackle update
Sam Schlueter has won the starting left tackle position for the Gophers, Fleck said Friday. The 6-6, 325-pound lineman will be tasked with protecting Tanner Morgan’s blind side come the season opener Aug. 29 against South Dakota State.
The Gophers held a closed scrimmage Tuesday. The coach noted that with game week almost upon the Gophers, the scrimmage was the perfect chance to get acclimated.
“Our team responds to everything that happens to them,” Fleck said. “It’s a fun team to coach because of that. They’re relentless in how they work — mentally, physically and emotionally.”