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Streveler Proves U Critics Wrong

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July 15, 2018

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Chris Streveler’s success, including now in the Canadian Football League, is a lot different than what the former Illinois high school all-state quarterback experienced with the Golden Gophers.

Like light years different.

Streveler enrolled at Minnesota in January of 2013 and participated in spring practice. By the spring of 2016 he was transferring to South Dakota, ending a Gopher career that included one meaningful game playing quarterback. Before Streveler transferred, he had been switched to wide receiver in an attempt to get him playing time and use the athleticism that helped produce over 1,200 rushing yards during his high school career.

In two seasons at South Dakota Streveler threw for 6,081 yards and 54 touchdowns. He was named Missouri Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year following last season. That wasn’t enough, though, to make an NFL team draft him. Instead, he signed a CFL deal with Winnipeg where earlier this season he became the first quarterback coming straight out of college to start a league game since 1994.

Injury and retirement thinned the Blue Bombers’ quarterback roster this year and prompted naming Streveler the starter for the first three regular season games. Streveler had impressed in the preseason including in his first game when he completed 10 of 10 passes, with an 80-yard touchdown pass.

Streveler started the first three regular season games for the now 2-3 Blue Bombers. He has also seen game action since then. He has completed 57 of 91 passes, with six touchdown passes (tops on the team) and two interceptions. He is the team’s second leading rusher with 228 yards and four touchdowns.

At Minnesota Streveler, whose completion percentage in high school was 68.8 percent, was labeled a quarterback who couldn’t pass after the one start of his career for the Gophers. He attempted seven passes and completed one as part of a game plan against San Jose State that clearly mandated running the ball. Streveler rushed 18 times for 161 yards and running back David Cobb had 207 yards on 34 carries in Minnesota’s 24-7 win in September of 2014.

Critics thought the Gophers had a running back disguised as a QB. They saw him as a dart thrower, perhaps as likely to toss an interception as a completion. Streveler played behind Mitch Leidner, the 2014-2016 starter who had his own critics. Leidner never found the consistency needed to maximize Minnesota’s offense.

Turns out Streveler could have been the type of quarterback talent that has often been nonexistent at Minnesota for decades. Since 1987 the Gophers have had two highly honored quarterbacks with end of season Big Ten recognition. Rickey Foggie was named second team All-Big Ten in 1987 and Adam Weber earned the same honor in 2008.

Streveler found opportunity at South Dakota where he listened to his coaches including head man Bob Nielson. In a June 3, 2018 story in the Winnipeg Sun, Streveler said “…the amount that I learned in those two years, from those guys, it took my game to a level that I didn’t even know was there. If I hadn’t gone to South Dakota I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be here right now.”

Among Streveler’s receivers in Winnipeg is former Gopher teammate and wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky. In the San Jose game it was Wolitarsky who caught the one pass from Streveler—a modest seven-yard completion.

Oh, how things have changed.

Worth Noting

Wolitarsky has eight receptions for 136 yards and a Blue Bombers best three touchdown catches.

Dick Jonckowski

Dick Jonckowski’s biography came out last week and copies of the book are available by calling him at 952-261-3013. “It’s All about Me—Dick Jonckowski, a Minnesota Treasure” includes his trademark jokes and nearly 50 color photos of celebrities from Hulk Hogan to Red Skelton. The popular banquet emcee and longtime Gopher public address announcer collaborated on the biography with Jim Bruton who has authored other sports books with Minnesota connections.

Jose Berrios, the Twins’ 24-year-old pitcher who participates in his first MLB All-Star Game Tuesday night, earns $570,000 this season, according to Spotrac.com, the website that tracks baseball salaries.

Joe Mauer, the Twins’ 35-year-old first baseman, hasn’t played in the All-Star Game since 2013. He has six career All-Star Game appearances including three consecutive from 2008-2010.

Murray’s Restaurant owner Tim Murray has visited all 30 MLB stadiums and 22 facilities no longer being used. On July 27 he will watch the Twins and Red Sox at Fenway Park, and then two days later he will be at Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees and Royals.

Condolences to former Gopher wide receiver and now local TV personality Ron Johnson on the passing of his father July 10. His dad, also Ron Johnson, was 62 and played defensive back for the NFL Steelers.

Appointment viewing: the NFL Network and Fox 9 will televise the Kirk Cousins-Vikings versus Case Keenum-Broncos preseason game from Denver August 11. Fox 9 will televise all four of the Viking preseason games starting with the Broncos.

The NFL Network will televise all 65 NFL preseason games.

Vikings single game tickets go on sale Thursday starting at 10 a.m. and are available only through Ticketmaster online. Tickets start at $20 for preseason games, $58 for regular season.

Former Gopher assistant football coach Dan O’Brien, now head coach at St. Thomas Academy, has ex-U star Rickey Foggie as his quarterbacks coach, and two promising sophomore offensive linemen in Michael Bagley and Joel Vascellaro. Michael is the son of Vikings front office executive Lester Bagley and Joel’s parents are WCCO TV anchors Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santaniello.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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