Gophers signee Duke Anyanwu posed with his mom Maryanne and sisters Ogechi (left) and Chikadinaka (right). /Star Tribune, Rick Sennott
After a year in which he committed to Minnesota, changed his mind, then returned to the fold last week, Hopkins wide receiver Andre McDonald has formally accepted a scholarship with the Gophers.
Blaine senior Duke Anyanwu looked the part of a National Signing Day standout Wednesday morning. White shirt. Narrow black tie. Black sweater vest.
Those rubber bands on the Gophers signee’s right wrist? Function over fashion.
“Those are kind of my good luck charm,” Anyanwu said. “I usually wear my little necklace for good luck but today it’s rubber bands.”
He better keep them around as reminders. The Gophers will likely stretch his time and expand his athletic talents.
The 6-4, 225-pound Anyanwu developed into a force at quarterback in Blaine’s spread offense last fall, racking up nearly 2,000 total yards and 18 touchdowns.
The Gophers could groom Anyanwu to play anything from tight end, defensive end or outside linebacker.
“I’m willing to make a contribution in any way possible,” he said.
He is also willing to wait. The Gophers might greyshirt Anyanwu and delay his official start with the team until January 2013. And he might still redshirt, delaying his onfield debut until the fall of 2014.
“He might not play for 2 1/2 years,” Blaine coach Shannon Gerrety said. “But that’s OK. Let him develop. He hasn’t played one position in four years. He’s been very unselfish about his needs.”
While playing quarterback heightened his profile and taught him decision-making and leadership, Anyanwu’s multitasking — he also played inside receiver and outside linebacker — made him an athletic but raw collegiate prospect.
Anyanwu, who just turned 17 in September, did not receive a scholarship offer from the Gophers until about two weeks ago.
“The recruiting process definitely taught me a lot about patience,” he said. “It got me closer with God.”
Gerrety is confident all parties will be rewarded for their faith.
“When the U finds out where his spot is and where they think he’s going to help them, he’s going to help them a lot,” Gerrety said. “He’s such a great athlete.”
He was asked what he’s looking forward to most about his college career.
“Playing against the Three Musketeers over there,” he said with a nod to his right.
The trio – Drew Bauer, Connor Randall and Eric Woodcock – all signed to play for Minnesota-Duluth on Wednesday.
“It’s not just a team; it’s a brotherhood,” Woodcock said of the Bulldogs.
They’ve got some talent up there, too. Minnesota-Duluth won Division II national championships in 2008 and 2010.
The Bulldogs were knocked out by Wayne State in this fall’s tournament, but all three future players said getting back to a national stage is the prime goal.
“Nothing comes easy, so we know we’re going to have to work harder than we ever did in high school,” Bauer said.
Bauer, a quarterback, will benefit under the tutelage of former Rosemount athlete Chase Vogler, who passed for 1,873 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Bulldogs this fall. The two grew up in the same neighborhood.
“He’s excited to have me up there,” Bauer said. “But the first thing I’m going to do is find coach [Bob Nielson], give him a big hug, say thanks and get to work.”