Fifth-year senior quarterback Andy Persby announced his decision Monday to leave Minnesota’s football program, affecting the team on many levels.
Persby missed spring ball to play for the Gophers baseball team. When drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 18th round of June’s major league baseball entry draft, questions about Persby’s football future began to surface.
Persby was to be Minnesota’s most experienced quarterback, having started three games in 1998 and seeing action in three games last season. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Persby is noted for his athleticism and strong arm.
Though much was made about the solid play of Asad Abdul-Khaliq this spring, coach Glen Mason left the door open for Persby by defusing the notion the redshirt freshmen had the starting spot locked-up.
“We had (Abdul-Khaliq) getting all the accolades during spring practice about how good of a quarterback he is,” Mason said last week. “The media perception is that the decision’s been made he’s going to be the number-one guy. But that’s not true.”
Persby’s opting to participate in the Twins’ Florida Instructional League this fall took himself out of the quarterback picture.
Beyond his past on-field contributions and potential, Persby endeared himself to Mason with his attitude.
“(After spring break), the first thing that I do is have a 7 a.m. meeting to make sure everybody’s back and squared away academically,” Mason said. “Well, Andy was playing baseball, so I didn’t require him to be or assume that he would be at that meeting.
“But there he was in the front row. That speaks volumes about his attitude to me.”
After receiving a $20,000 signing bonus from the Twins, Persby is currently doing well for the organizations’ Elizabethton rookie team. Persby owns a solid 3-1 record and 1.52 ERA. His pitch repertoire includes a fastball clocked at 94 mph.
While he would have preferred seeing Persby as the quarterback throwing from the pocket, Mason is supportive of Persby the pitcher unleashing a fastball from the mound.
“It’s a big loss,” Mason said, “Andy brings a lot of character to the table. I put a high premium on senior leadership, and he’s one of those guys that displayed that leadership all the way through.
“From a team standpoint, you feel the loss, but from a personal standpoint, you want to wish him the best of luck. Andy’s a heck of a kid.”
Persby already graduated with a degree in sports management.
The Gophers remain three-deep at the quarterback position, with Abdul-Khaliq, junior-college transfer Travis Cole and redshirt freshman Benji Kamrath.
Asked if he had any idea who the front-runner is for the starting spot, Mason simply replied, “No.”
Volleyball in Top 10
The Gophers volleyball team is ranked 10th in the nation, according to Volleyball Magazine’s preseason poll.
This is the first time Minnesota has been ranked in the top 10 to open a season.
“It is a great accomplishment for this program, this athletic department and the University of Minnesota,” coach Mike Hebert said in a press release. “Our athletic administration is fully committed to the development of a nationally competitive volleyball program, and this ranking is a step in the right direction.”
The Gophers, who finished last season 16th in the nation, are the second-highest ranked team in the Big Ten. Penn State, last year’s NCAA champion, is ranked third. UCLA is the top-ranked team.
Women’s athletes excel
For the 25th consecutive academic term, the Gophers women student-athletes compiled a cumulative grade point average at or above 3.00.
“It is with incredible pride that we note the 25th consecutive term of a department GPA over 3.0,” athletics director Chris Voelz said in a release. “This sets us apart nationwide, and we are truly proud of this distinguishing quality.”
The last time the department’s GPA was under 3.0 was the fall quarter of 1991. But the athletes didn’t just excel in the classroom during this stretch.
Since 1991, the following women’s teams won the Big Ten championships in their respective sports: gymnastics (1998), soccer (1995, 1997), softball (1999) and swimming (1999, 2000).
In addition, the women’s hockey team won the 1999-2000 AWCHA national championship.Hoops schedule set
The Minnesota men’s basketball team unveiled its 2000-2001 schedule. Among the nonconference opponents the Gophers will face are Georgia (SEC), Florida State (ACC) and Nebraska (Big 12).
The regular season’s first tip-off takes place November 11th, with the Big Ten schedule getting underway January 3 at Illinois.
The Gophers finished 10th in the conference last season.
David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]