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Leidner is Gopher-bound

By Aaron Paitich, Special to the Star Tribune, 07/02/11, 3:30PM CDT


Minnesota offers Lakeville South QB scholarship after summer tournament

Lakeville South QB Mitch Leidner threw for more than 2,000 yards as a junior. /Photo courtesy of Paul Thierry

Mitch Leidner's size made football coaches think one thing. His throwing ability made them think quite another.

At 6-4 and 220 pounds, Leidner – who just finished his junior year at Lakeville South – initially attracted the attention of Gophers coaches as a tight-end prospect.

That all changed Saturday after his memorable performance at Coach Kill's 7-on-7 Passing Tournament, where Leidner and Lakeville South won eight games to capture the championship.

"He left an impression," Lakeville South coach Larry Thompson said. "I know their quarterback coach and their coaches were watching almost every game we played – and golly, he couldn't have done any better."

Thompson said one game Leidner only threw one incompletion. He was threading the ball all day on all routes.

Impressions were mutual. On Wednesday night, Leidner committed to play for the Gophers.

That commitment came two days after he met with Gophers coach Jerry Kill. The two watched film and had a long conversation. Sunday night, the two spoke late on the phone because Kill was still excited about Saturday's showing.

"He said it was one of the best performances he's seen in his 28 years of coaching," said Leidner, who's also nearly a 4.0 student and also had been pursued by Iowa. "At the rate I'm improving, he thinks I can do great things at the Big Ten level. I'm speechless."

Leidner, who also plays basketball for the Cougars, threw for 2,096 yards and 17 touchdowns, while running for six touchdowns during his junior year.

He wasn't always a quarterback. In sixth grade, his youth team's quarterback got injured. The coaches lined up everyone to see who could throw the farthest.

"I chucked it down the field and that's how I got into the whole quarterback thing," said Leidner, who admitted he wasn't very good until he started hitting the weights in ninth grade.

The first thing people notice about Leidner is the size and strength he brings to the quarterback position.

"Trust me, I don't have to worry too much about getting smoked by linebackers every other play," Leidner said.

Arm strength and mechanics are his strong suits, while footwork, ability to read defenses and football IQ are improving. Leidner credited his wide receivers – Matt Heller, Devon Bzoskie and Ty Powell – who are all looking to put something special together their senior year.

With a leader and hard worker like Leidner at quarterback, the Cougars like their chances in the fall. But Thompson also likes Leidner's chances after high school. With his grade-point average, family background and work ethic to complement his athletic skill set, a bright future potentially awaits.

"That's what's really appealing to college coaches as well," Thompson said. "If he's on your campus, he's going to get good grades and he's going to make good choices."

His first big decision – picking the Gophers – came quickly, but he believes it was the right one, even though everything is happening so fast.

"It's overwhelming, but it's a lot of fun," Leidner said. "I'm just trying to take it all in day by day."

Duke Anyanwu Blaine Senior QB Minnesota Yes
Matt Arends Prior Lake Senior WR Princeton Yes
Tavaughn Blair Hopkins Senior SS Northern Iowa Yes
Cal Bloom Osseo Senior TE Central Florida Yes
Nick Carr Totino-Grace Senior OL South Dakota State Yes
Kevin Carroll Edina Senior OL Northern Iowa Yes
Paddy Clancy St. Thomas Academy Senior DB Dartmouth Yes
Breion Creer Benilde-St. Margaret's Senior DT Northern Iowa Yes
Nick Davidson Eden Prairie Senior OT Stanford Yes
Rob Diane Robbinsdale Cooper *RCC Junior DE South Dakota State Yes
Cedric Dicke Cannon Falls Senior LB Minnesota Yes
Karmichael Dunbar Prior Lake Senior DL Louisianna Yes
Isaac Fruechte Caledonia *RCTC Sophomore WR Minnesota Yes
Joel Fuxa Minnetonka Senior TE Drake Yes
Jonathan Harden Cretin-Derham Hall Senior DT Western Michigan Yes
Tyler Hartmann Andover Senior DE Minnesota Yes
Isaac Hayes St. Thomas Academy Senior OL/DL Minnesota Yes
Cody Hazelette Simley Senior LB/TE Northern Illinois Yes
Kyle Hughes Minneapolis Washburn Senior WR/DB Eastern Michigan Yes
D.J. Hebert Osseo Senior QB Northern Iowa Yes
Cavonte Johnson Edina Senior DB Minnesota Yes
Will Johnson Osseo Senior TE West Virginia Yes
Zack Johnson Eastview Senior OL North Dakota State Yes
Paul Kaczor St. Cloud Tech Senior OL Harvard Yes
Brian Labat Detroit Lakes Senior RB North Dakota Yes
Andrew Larson Eden Prairie Senior RB Harvard Yes
Brandon Larson Bemidji Senior LB North Dakota Yes
Ben Lauer Wayzata Senior OL Minnesota Yes
Mitch Leidner Lakeville South Senior QB Minnesota Yes
Andre McDonald Hopkins Senior WR Minnesota Yes
Nate Meixell Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Senior LB South Dakota State Yes
Nate Meyer Rocori Senior QB South Dakota State Yes
Drake Michaelson Eden Prairie Senior LB Wofford Yes
Rossevelt Morisset Thief River Falls Senior WR Southeastern Louisiana Yes
Andy Moritko Totino-Grace Senior DB South Dakota State Yes
Philip Nelson Mankato West Senior QB Minnesota Yes
Brett Pierce Holy Angels Senior DL North Dakota State Yes
Jonah Pirsig Blue Earth Senior OL Minnesota Yes
Nick Rallis Edina Senior S Minnesota Yes
Taj Rich Robbinsdale Cooper Senior LB North Dakota Yes
Zach Riopelle Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Senior LB North Dakota State Yes
Kasey Robinson Breck Senior WR Drake Yes
Chase Roullier Burnsville Senior OL Wyoming Yes
E.J. Welch Mesabi East *MRCC Freshman DL North Dakota Yes
Lucas Wiborg DeLaSalle Senior OG Cornell Yes
Evan Williams DeLaSalle *IWCC Freshman RB Northern Iowa Yes
Maxx Williams Waconia Senior TE Minnesota Yes
Carey Woods Bemidji Senior WR North Dakota State Yes

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