Here are excerpts from Fleck’s media session:
General thoughts on the season:
We brought four incredible young men with us: Tanner Morgan, John Michael Schmitz, Mariano Sori-Marin and Tyler Nubin.
Tanner Morgan has been around the league, it seems like forever. He is turning sixth grade. He’s got his bachelor’s, his master’s, and now he’s kind of a non-major at the University of Minnesota, he’s just taking classes and going to coach our football team.
He got married here a few weeks ago, and I’m sure you all know that, to his wife, Sarah. It must be contagious on our team because John Michael Schmitz, a preseason All-American, you look at the top of the Rimington roster, his name is right up there, is also engaged here to come.
These six-year-old guys, and they’re still called the four. It will be really fun to watch these guys develop on and off the pitch. There are guys who are already getting married.
He is a phenomenal footballer, an incredible person.
Mariano Sori-Marin of Providence Catholic, Illinois, one of our middle linebackers, the ultimate connector on our defense. You talk about a guy who would be a phenomenal coach one day; he will do it. He’s also an incredible foodie. He has a list of 105 restaurants he’s been to that I’m sure he’ll probably tell you about, and he’s ranked them all. You have a certain type of food that you like, it will definitely tell you where you should go and give you a ranking on that.
Then Tyler Nubin, one of our guards, was instrumental in what we did. We did a tape the other day for our team and showed them the big plays from last year, and Tyler Nubin was around all of it. His father, Rodney, and mother, Sherese, are both Eastern Michigan University athletes and are both involved in our program. It’s great to have Tyler here.
When your best players are your hardest workers, I think you have something really special. We are talking about the sixth year, a lot of guys who have chosen to come back for this sixth year and a lot of newcomers who will be part of our football team who will help us for the first time.
When you talk about a life program, we are talking about academics, athletics, social, spiritual, becoming elite in all areas of your life. Our team’s cumulative GPA is currently at 3.3. We have 11 consecutive semesters at 3.0, which we are really excited about, or higher.
We have eight Academic All-Americans in the past five years. To give you a bit of that, we look back over the 20 years before we were there, we had eight in total. In the past five years, we’ve had eight.
You look at our NFL draft picks, we had four NFL draft picks this year with Boye Mafe in the second round, Daniel Faalele in the fourth round, Esezi Otomewo in the fifth round and Ko Kieft in the sixth round for the Buccaneers of Tampa Bay. We also have four more on NFL teams.
If you look at the last two full seasons of more than nine wins that we’ve had, it’s the first time we’ve had almost consecutive full seasons of nine wins since 1900 to 1905.
So there are a lot of positive things in our program. I’m really proud of our players. I can’t wait to see what happens this season. It’s a fun team. It’s a committed team. Probably more than I ever had in six years at the University of Minnesota. They’re probably the most committed team, and I can’t wait to see what they have.
With that, I’ll open it up for questions.
Q I wanted to ask you about the return of Mo Ibrahim, and what does he mean for your team on the pitch, the way he competes, but also the type of leadership and other types of qualities he brings also to your team?
PJ FLECK: Mohamed is one of those four callbacks they kind of call themselves. I don’t know if it’s NIL or not or copyright infringement I just threw at them. But you have Mo, you have Tanner, John Michael Schmitz and Crab.
Talk about Mo, he could have gone to the National Football League. After ripping his Achilles, I think we all saw, he had 170 yards in the first half against Ohio State, and he was set for a huge season.
Decided to come back, not just for himself, but for his teammates. This spread to our entire team. John Michael Schmitz returns, Tanner returns, Crab returns, Chris Autman-Bell. They made decisions about what Mo was going to do. Mo could have gone to the National Football League. As he would say, 5’8″ is 5’8″. He is not growing. But he did it for the team and he did it to put a different end to what happened.
I think he’s one of the best fullbacks in the country, but more importantly, he’s one of the best people you’ll ever meet in your life. His leadership has become truly infectious based on real world experiences. Here’s a guy who had a lot of NIL, and he ran 170 yards in the first half, got all this stuff, and boom, it’s over.
He can share many of those experiences with our team and those life experiences. So that means for us that he is coming back. He is at full power. It’s ready to roll. And we’re excited to bring him a really, really positive 2022.