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Minnesota Football: Chris Streveler was a quarterback playing wide receiver

The one who got away... and became a finalist for the Walter Payton Award

Minnesota v TCU Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

No position group has bedeviled the Minnesota Golden Gophers over the last decade quite like the signal callers under center. This fall, the team’s fate would seems to rest in the inexperienced hands of redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan. Should he turn out to be competent, it will have been a long and strange road, riddled with the unfulfilled potential of countless Gopher quarterbacks.

Today we turn the spotlight to: Chris Streveler.

As a Prospect

247 Sports Composite Rating: .8117
Scholarship Offers: None

Streveler had a stellar high school career at Marian Central Catholic High School in Illinois, leading his team to identical 11-1 records and conference championships as both a junior and a senior. Both teams also advanced to the state quarterfinals. As a junior, Streveler passed for 2,456 yards and 26 touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 970 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-State as a senior, when he finished the season 172-of-250 (68.8%) for 2,662 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, to go along with 1,276 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.

As a Gopher

As a redshirt freshman, Streveler served as back-up to Mitch Leidner, who won the starting role after Philip Nelson opted to transfer in January. But in the third game of the season, Leidner left the game in the fourth quarter after suffering a knee injury. Streveler was inserted for the rest of the game and then tabbed as the starter the following week against San Jose State.

It was a bizarre game.

The Gophers bested the Spartans 24-7 behind an impressive 207-yard rushing performance from running back David Cobb and 161 rushing yards and one touchdown from Streveler, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his efforts.

But Minnesota only attempted seven passes all game and completed just one of them, which came on a seven-yard pass to Drew Wolitarsky late in the fourth quarter.

The game was also suspended for an hour in the fourth quarter due to lightning.

After that, he only saw action at quarterback in three games during the rest of his career at Minnesota, and none of the snaps were meaningful.

Streveler followed a familiar path that had been tread before. MarQueis Gray came in a quarterback under Tim Brewster and left a wide receiver under Kill. Donovahn Jones was recruited by Kill as a quarterback and almost immediately transitioned to wide receiver. For some reason, Kill and co. were fixated on recruiting quarterbacks with “positional flexibility.” In the case of Streveler, the staff for some reason seemed confident he was never going to see the field as a quarterback, so the switch to wide receiver was to get him on the field.

Except that it didn’t. When it became clear in the spring after his redshirt sophomore season that he was not going to be near the top of the depth chart at wide receiver, Streveler transferred.

Where is he now?

Throwing touchdown passes to former Gophers wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky as the starting quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. When he earned the starting nod for their season opener last month, Streveler became the first quarterback to start a CFL game coming out of college since 1994.

Final Word

In two seasons at South Dakota, Streveler passed for 6,081 passing yards and 54 touchdowns. He was even named MVFC Offensive Player of the Year as a senior and selected as a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which is awarded annually to the top offensive player in the FCS.

This is the same quarterback who was 4-for-11 for 37 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception in the two seasons he spent at Minnesota.

It’s baffling to me that Kill, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover, and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski either didn’t recognize what Streveler was capable of as a quarterback or that none of them were capable of developing it. I mean, it’s not that surprising when you consider their track record at the quarterback position at Minnesota, but it’s frustrating and disappointing, to say the least. Especially when you consider that his chief competition, Mitch Leidner, struggled mightily.

But I’ll get into that more in our next post.

Next: Mitch Leidner.