Medical school will wait for backup QB

Senior Mike Frankberg elected to stay on the the sidelines for his last season.

Luke Middendorf

Three years ago, Mike Frankberg was setting up jerseys and helmets in the Gophers’ locker room as a team manager. Now on Saturdays, he gets to put them on.

A fifth-year senior, Frankberg is the one of four backup quarterbacks on this year’s team. But this quarterback’s journey was much different than any of his teammates.

Growing up in rural Detroit Lakes, Minn., Frankberg says he grew up listening to the Gophers on the radio and watching them on TV when they were not on cable.

“As I got older, we would always have the Gopher games on the radio,” said Frankberg. “I got really familiar with the players and the coaches and always wanted to see them do well.”

Detroit Lakes High School’s head football coach, Flint Motschenbacher, said Frankberg was always considered an all-around good athlete, and an even better all-around person.

“We are really proud of Mike here in Detroit Lakes,” said Motschenbacher. “Mike’s a great kid. This couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid.”

The 6 foot, 190 lbs. Frankberg was more of a utility player than a quarterback in high school, seeing time at wide receiver, tight end, safety, quarterback, and even playing nose tackle on his junior year’s state championship team.

“He is the type of kid that always did what we asked of him,” Frankenberg’s former coach and teacher Vern Schnathorst said. “Mike was a very good high school player. He was ready to help out the team in any way and was always positive.”

Frankberg’s only time as starting quarterback was in his senior year of high school, starting two games for the injured regular starter Rory Manke, who eventually went on to play at the University of North Dakota as a starting defensive back. During his junior year in high school, Frankberg was stuck behind Manke’s older brother Reed, who also went on to eventually start as quarterback for the Sioux.

“Mike was sandwiched between two very good quarterbacks here,” said Motschenbacher.

Frankberg says he came to the University of Minnesota knowing that he probably wasn’t going to be able to participate as an athlete. But his love for the Gophers and for football gave him an opportunity to be involved in a different way.

“I knew that if I wanted to play football or basketball I was going to have to go to a smaller school,” Frankberg said. “I chose to give up athletics and come to Minnesota for a chance to get a degree in any number of things. There are so many great opportunities down here.”

Late in his senior year, Frankberg said a coach from the University of Minnesota came up to Detroit Lakes on a recruiting visit, and asked the head coach if they had any players that loved the game so much they could be a team manager.

Frankberg ended up getting the job in August of his freshman year. Being around a Division I football team for the first time, he was slightly timid, especially after seeing former head coach Glen Mason.

Frankberg’s role on the team was mainly working with the quarterbacks and helping get the equipment ready for practice and games.

“My role with the field crew was to get the tackling dummies and the footballs out before practice,” Frankberg said. “During practice I helped out with the quarterbacks, making sure they were loose. It was neat just to get to throw the ball around again.”

During his second year as manager, Frankberg said that coaches started to pay more notice to his athletic ability and arm strength when he worked with the quarterbacks.

People started asking him why he didn’t play football someplace and, though flattered, Frankberg shrugged off the compliments.

But they kept coming.

Frankberg said that during a practice in his second year as manager, the quarterbacks coach was giving his players a hard time for not having a good practice and said that the best arm on the team was on the student manager.

“At another practice the coach actually had me step in, in my managers t-shirt and shorts, and throw a route to one of the running backs,” Frankberg said with a grin.

After consulting his family, friends, and the coaching staff of the time, Frankberg decided to give it a shot and try to walk on in the spring of his sophomore year.

After two seasons as a team manager, Frankberg wasn’t in the best of shape and found himself lagging behind the majority of other players.

But the coaches had seen enough to give him a shot.

Frankberg made the team as a walk-on for the fall of his junior year. Last season he planned to walk on again, but received an unexpected call into the office of former coach Glen Mason.

“I thought he was going to be sending me with my bags packing,” Frankberg jokingly said. “Coach Mason then told me that because of my hard work and what I bring to the team that he was going to award me with a full scholarship. I could hardly even thank him. I was speechless.”

The athletic scholarship was not the first scholarship at Minnesota for Frankberg, as his High School grades and college G.P.A. of 3.9 were good enough to grant him various academic scholarships.

Pursuing a degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Business Management, Frankberg has often had class loads of 16 or 17 credits, along with the rigorous schedule of a Division I football player.

Frankberg’s ultimate goal is to enter medical school after graduation, which he was unable to this fall due to playing on the team.

After meeting with coach Tim Brewster and talking to his family, Frankberg decided to stay on the team this fall and enter Medical School in the fall of 2008.

“To have an opportunity to spend another four to five months with this team is something that I am not ready to let go of yet,” Frankberg said.

“I know I am not in a position to be a starting quarterback. When I was thinking about staying with the team it wasn’t about playing time, thinking that I was getting cheated by not seeing the field. But being able to put the pads on every day and be a part of the team is very special.”