U of M-bound running back Dominik London and kicker Grant Ryerse (Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune)
Relief came Wednesday for East Ridge football standouts Dominik London and Grant Ryerse, two players who watched and wondered where they stood during a tumultuous stretch in January.
After P.J. Fleck replaced Tracy Claeys as Minnesota head coach and London, a standout running back at the Woodbury-based school, and Ryerse, who has one of the most celebrated kicking legs in several years, hoped their verbal commitments to Minnesota would not be rescinded.
Forging fast bonds with Fleck’s assistant coaches eased the young men’s concerns. Both signed Wednesday morning and spoke of a weight lifted during an afternoon ceremony.
“They wanted to be Gophers and they were hoping the new coaches wanted them to be Gophers,” East Ridge coach Dan Fritze said.
London hit it off with new running backs coach Kenni Burns.
“When I saw him for the first time, he didn’t leave my side and I respected that,” London said. “He actually said to me that I’m an easy guy to get along with, so that’s a good sign.”
Ryerse said he benefited from holdover Adam Hippe, a defensive and special teams graduate assistant, and new hire Rob Wenger, Fleck’s special teams coordinator. Upon meeting Wenger, Ryerse said, “We just sat there and talked about kicking. Most people probably can’t do that.” They also went to see the Matthew McConaughey movie “Gold.”
While Ryerse’s kicking role is defined, London’s future contributions on the field could come from various positions.
“He can definitely play receiver,” Fritze said. “He might have been one of our better receivers if he played there. He’s a phenomenal blocker as well. So he’s very versatile and I’m not worried.”
London said coaches described their preference for a three-running back system and he is hopeful to be in the mix.
“My passion is running back,” London said.