Gophers quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis hit with low national ranking

The Gophers football program received 16 votes in the USA Today coaches poll this week and fell well short of its preseason top 25. But that wasn’t the ranking that turned heads at the U.
Quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis was pegged 67th out of 69 projected starting QBs at the Power Five conference level going into the 2023 season, according to 247sports on Tuesday.
Kaliakmanis’ statistics last year as a redshirt freshman were not impressive. Thrust into a bigger role with sixth-year senior Tanner Morgan’s midseason concussion issues, Kaliakmanis completed 54 percent of his passes (60 for 111) for 946 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.
But Kaliakmanis, who saw significant playing time in six games, progressed as the season continued. His best game was for Paul Bunyan’s Axe against Wisconsin, when he completed 19 of 29 passes for 319 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in November.
Late in the fourth quarter of that game, Kaliakmanis took a risk and completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Le’Meke Brockington to produce a 23-16 victory at Camp Randall Stadium.
Kaliakmanis was then slinging it against Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, going 7 for 9 for 80 yards before he exited the game with a lower-leg injury.
Internally, the Gophers are much, much higher on Kaliakmanis than the national college football web site has shown.
Ranking author Clint Brewster defended his list Tuesday on social media; the former quarterback is the son of former Gophers head coach Tim Brewster.
“He showed some good things against Wisconsin, but we have to judge the full sample size,” Brewster wrote on X. “I’m sorry but those stats in totality put you in the back of the line.”
It will be worthwhile to revisit that list come November.
In Tuesday’s practice, Kaliakmanis showed off his big right arm with two long touchdown passes. He tossed one apiece to Daniel Jackson and Brockington.
Waiver worry
The NCAA declined a two-transfer waiver for North Carolina receiver Devontez Walker on Tuesday.
That’s both good and bad news for the Gophers.
The Tar Heels, who are appealing the decision, are now forecast to be without their projected No. 1 receiver when Minnesota visits Chapel Hill on Sept. 16. The deep-ball target for Heisman Trophy candidate Drake Maye, the Tar Heels’ quarterback, had been named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list this week.
But it might be a bad sign for the Gophers, who have filed a two-transfer waiver for defensive back Craig McDonald. The NCAA allows one transfer without an interruption in eligibility, but a second waiver needs special approval.
A source told the Pioneer Press on Tuesday that the U is still awaiting an NCAA decision on McDonald. The Gophers insist they have a compelling case.
McDonald, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound safety/nickel back from Minnehaha Academy, played at Iowa State before transferring and playing at Auburn.
Walker, of Charlotte, N.C., enrolled at North Carolina Central but didn’t play at the FCS-level school once the 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic. He transferred to Kent State, where he was all-Mid American Conference. Walker mentioned his ailing grandmother in his appeal to the NCAA.
Big and bright
Gophers third-year left tackle Aireontae Ersery was a quote machine during his first interview with local media members on Tuesday. When asked about his first start at Nebraska in 2020, he produced one of many nuggets.
“I didn’t know my head from my butt,” Ersery said, drawing laughter from reporters. “… Now I came a long way.”
Remember when?
A handful of Gophers players were asked for their thoughts on the expanding Big Ten Conference, which will grow to a massive 18 programs next season with the addition of Washington and Oregon.
“Growing up, you always thought of the Big Ten as what the Big Ten used to be,” said Danny Striggow, a fourth-year player from Long Lake, Minn.
Striggow wasn’t in his parents’ shining eye then, but older observers can actually recall when the Big Ten actually had 10 teams — before Penn State joined in 1990.
Promising defensive end Anthony Smith was dismissed from Tuesday’s practice. True freshman guard Greg Johnson pancaked him during a play; Smith got up fighting and was told to leave for the rest of the session. He complied, jogging toward the locker room. … One thing is becoming more apparent: The Gophers need Kaliakmanis to stay healthy. There is a drop off to backup Cole Kramer and true freshman third-stringer Drew Viotto. … Transfer cornerback Tyler Bride (Georgia Southern), who is competing for a starting spot, intercepted Kramer during Tuesday’s practice. … The 16 total votes the U received in the debut coaches poll effectively put the Gophers at 40th overall in the country. … The first Associated Press poll is scheduled to drop Monday.

Latest Player Notes

How a Wisconsin legend got his German protégé into Badgers pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Marlon Werthmann put his life on hold for the opportunity in front of him Friday at the McClain Center.Werthmann ...

Why former Wisconsin football running back Braelon Allen didn't run the 40 at pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Braelon Allen’s sweat covered his shirt and dripped off his beard as he approached a group of reporters Friday.The ...

How can UW recruit its best class ever? It starts with these five prospects

By Andy Yamashita Seattle Times staff reporter Jedd Fisch has lofty recruiting goals at Washington. He didn’t waste any ...

Texas football kicks off spring practice Tuesday. We answer 24 questions for the 2024 team

Things certainly look fresh for the 2024 college football season, especially on the Texas campus.There’s a new conference ...

College Football Playoff: Conferences solve their differences (for now) and agree on general framework for 2026 and beyond

The FBS conferences and Notre Dame agreed on Friday to continue the College Football Playoff beyond the 2025 season, signing ...

Ball security, leadership key as Aztecs look to identify starting quarterback

San Diego State seemingly auditions a new starting quarterback on an annual basis.In the past 12 years, the Aztecs have opened ...

Results and more: A look at what happened at Penn State football’s Pro Day inside Holuba Hall

Most of those at Penn State’s Pro Day Friday were relatively quiet throughout the afternoon’s workouts, but there was one ...

Defense dominates first two weeks of Oregon State spring practice as Beavers ready for 2-week breather

CORVALLIS – Oregon State hit the break of spring practices Saturday, not exactly the midpoint but a good place to assess ...

Dillon Gabriel to have similar input, autonomy as Bo Nix had in Oregon’s offense

Published Mar. 16, 2024, 6:26 p.m.By James CrepeaEUGENE — Dillon Gabriel will have much of the same autonomy as Bo Nix did ...

Two transfers, one underclassman who impressed in Missouri football's spring game

With that, spring camp’s a wrap.Missouri football held its Black & Gold spring game Saturday in front of a healthy crowd ...
See More Player Notes