Cole, Redmon take chances on NFL dreams

Anthony Maggio

After spending a portion of last season as a pitcher for Minnesota’s baseball team, Travis Cole has decided to leave the team in order to prepare for a future in professional football.

Cole, who also spent two seasons as a quarterback with the Gophers football squad, made his decision while at his home in Lake Oswego, Ore., over winter break.

“I just needed some time away from football and time away from sports, really,” said Cole. “It just kind of came to me in the last couple of days that I decided that I’m going to try to shoot for the next level.”

His decision comes as a surprise, considering Cole appeared in only seven games last season after losing the starting job to sophomore Asad Abdul-Khaliq. Cole finished the season with 765 yards on 58 of 115 passing. He threw for five touchdowns and was intercepted five times.

But Cole said he has always been working towards a professional football career, either in the CFL or NFL, and plans to continue his quest with help of friends, family and coaches.

“(Quarterbacks) coach (Tony) Petersen is doing everything he can for me, and my dad knows some people around so he’s trying to help me out,” Cole said. “I’ve also got some family friends that have been in the business for a long time, and so I’m just kind of hoping that I get a chance to go somewhere and work out for some people.”

Minnesota baseball head coach John Anderson had many conversations with Cole on the topic of returning to the team before Cole made his final decision.

“He’s been more of a football player since he got out of high school,” Anderson said. “He’s put a lot of time and energy into that so I think he’s going to try to find an opportunity in the CFL or something like that.”

However, a future in baseball on paper seems a more logical choice for Cole. He was drafted out of high school in 1997 by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 52nd round before deciding to go to Junior College to play football.

Last season, Cole joined the Gophers baseball team with little practice time after the football season, but made five productive appearances, posting a 1-0 record and a 4.05 ERA.

“He’s got a good arm, but he just hasn’t spent a lot of time in baseball so he’s fairly untrained and hasn’t spent the time at it,” Anderson said. “I think he’s got a good enough arm where he could get an opportunity to play minor league baseball. How far he could climb the ladder, how far he could go – it’s so hard to tell because he hasn’t played very much.

“But there’s definitely potential there. He showed us some arm strength and had a pretty good breaking ball and the times last year he did pitch for us he did a pretty good job for someone who’s hardly worked at it. You would think his top end is still way out there someplace.”

Cole admits his decision to leave the team was a tough one considering he knew what to expect with baseball. He appreciates Anderson and pitching coach Todd Oakes because they laid everything on the line about what Cole should expect and helped him make a comfortable decision.

Now Cole plans on coming back to school to finish his degree while working out and getting himself ready for any opportunity he might have to play football.

“The important thing is when you get one chance, you’ve got to come through,” Cole said. “No matter if it’s working out for one guy or 30 guys, I’ve got to come through like every day is my last. I’m not going to get recruited like a Joey Harrington or a Kurt Kittner type. So whenever I get a chance I have to make the best of it and hopefully he’ll talk to someone else and they’ll ask me to come here, and hopefully it becomes a chain effect.”

As for the baseball team, Anderson said it will not be affected by Cole’s absence. Anderson never counted on Cole’s return.

“If we had Travis it was a bonus,” Anderson said. “We hadn’t really penciled him in because of the uncertainty of whether or not he would be with us. Travis would have been a person that would’ve given us some depth and given us some other options, but not someone we would build our pitching staff around.”

Redmon going pro

Junior running back Tellis Redmon has made himself eligible for April’s NFL Draft and will not return to Minnesota for his senior season.

Redmon first announced his decision on WCCO radio Jan. 2.

Redmon rushed for 1,091 yards last year, putting him over 1,000 yards for the second season in a row. But his numbers were down from his sophomore season thanks mostly to Marion Barber’s emergence last season.

Redmon, who’s not expected to be drafted in the early rounds, could not be reached for comment.

Late last season, Redmon saw action at wide receiver, and coach Glen Mason mentioned possibly making the same move next season to get his best offensive weapons on the field.

Moore receives honors

Gopher sophomore Megan Moore was named women’s Big Ten Swimmer of the Week on Jan. 14. The Westmont, Ill., native posted first-place finishes in both the 50-meter backstroke (28.28) and the 200-meter backstroke (2:05.32) to help lead the No. 22 Gophers to a 110-95 victory over No. 6 California.

Moore is currently ranked 12th in the Big Ten and 40th in the nation in the 200-meter backstroke.

Ong earns second award

For the second time this season, Collegeswimming.com has named a Minnesota Gopher as its Division I collegiate swimmer of the week. After earning Big Ten weekly honors, Allen Ong was selected by a panel of collegiate swimming coaches for the award.

A four-time All-American, Ong won four events as the sixth-ranked Golden Gophers easily defeated Hawaii and UNLV in dual meet action. Ong, a native of Ipoh, Malaysia, was a double-event winner, claiming the 50-yard (20.54) and 100-yard (45.06) freestyles. Ong also anchored the 400-yard medley (3:19.51) and 400-yard freestyle (3:01.75) relays, which both rank in the top 10 nationally.