Conor Rhoda (#17), a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior quarterback from Cretin Derham Hall, will be preferred walk-on at Minnesota.
Conor Rhoda, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior quarterback from Cretin Derham Hall, will be preferred walk-on at Minnesota. Gopher Hole caught up with Rhoda Monday night to learn more about his decision.
Gopher Hole: What were the main factors in making you decide to commit to Minnesota?
Conor Rhoda: There were quite a few. Them being the hometown school, it was a really nice comfort zone. Being able to still stay close to family and friends. Being able to maintain relationships with high school coaches and people from the school. The coaches at Minnesota made me feel welcome. Like everyone said, the program is going in the right direction with this coaching staff. It doesn’t really look like it will be going back to the way it used to be for quite awhile with these guys. I’ll be able to go to a program that is on the up and up. That is a pretty special thing to do.
Gopher Hole: You made an official visit a couple of weeks ago. How was the visit?
Conor Rhoda: It was good. I probably did not need to make that visit to finally make my decision, but it was nice to go over there again and hang out with the coaches. I got to meet some of their families and it made me even more pumped. It was great to hang out with them and get to know them even more.
Gopher Hole: Who were you down to when you made the decision to commit to Minnesota?
Conor Rhoda: Minnesota and I had a full-ride to North Dakota.
Gopher Hole: Was it hard to say no to a full scholarship?
Conor Rhoda: It was, but I always wanted to play at the highest level. I think that I can play at this level and my coaches do and the Gophers coaches do, too. I don’t want to look back twenty years from now and say that I passed up an opportunity of playing Big Ten football and not to take anything away from North Dakota program, a D1-AA school. It wasn’t that hard of a decision. I did my homework on both of them to make sure that I was making the best decision, but in the end, I was happily able to make the decision and be happy with it.
Gopher Hole: Had you made an official visit to North Dakota?
Conor Rhoda: Yes. I made that at the beginning of December.
Gopher Hole: Did you get a chance to go to many college games this past fall?
Conor Rhoda: I went to three Minnesota games and one at North Dakota and one at Wisconsin.
Gopher Hole: Were the Badgers also looking at you as a preferred walk-on or had you even gotten that far?
Conor Rhoda: They were and I got my preferred walk-on from the Gophers and I decided to go with a preferred walk-on from the Gophers over the Madison one, so I stopped talking with Madison. I was happy with where I was at.
Gopher Hole: The Gophers don’t have a lot of quarterbacks on their roster. Was that something that was appealing to you that there was an opportunity that you could get some playing time?
Conor Rhoda: Definitely. It definitely was. When I went over to the campus Saturday and talked to Coach Zebrowski for a few hours and watched film and stuff. We were talking about that there are a lot of quarterbacks that they have as athletes who if they don’t pan out as a quarterback that are able to play other positions, too. I see my style as being more of a true quarterback and that is what they are looking to being me in as, because the commit that they have is just a really good athlete on top of being a really good quarterback. With (Max) Shortell transferring, they needed to bring in a true quarterback they thought and that is what we talked about. It is going to be nice with a lot of young guys close in age and creating a lot of good competition. It should be fun.
Gopher Hole: Have they said what they are expecting of you next year?
Conor Rhoda: Not a whole lot. I’ll redshirt next year. They really want me to put on weight and get bigger and faster. I assume that after the Signing Day, that stuff will come more into play.
Gopher Hole: What do you see as your strengths as a quarterback?
Conor Rhoda: My leadership and being able to make plays when there is nothing there. That is something that my coaches have talked about making all the plays that are there, but also making the special plays when you shouldn’t able to make a play and you are able to and that is what changes the outcome of games and put you at a different level of a quarterback. That is something that I think that I am good at escaping the pressure and finding guys down the field after running around. I feel that I have a very good football intelligence. My high school offense is probably as complex as a high school offense gets in Minnesota as far as getting to make all the calls and the protections calls. It is a lot like a college offense, just not as many plays. That is probably one of my greatest strengths that I might be coming in a little more ready than most guys because of the program that I played in.
Gopher Hole: How much of an advantage do you think that it was playing at program like Cretin Derham Hall? You had a lot of talented teammates. How much do you think that helps you as opposed to being at the typical high school?
Conor Rhoda: I would say the biggest thing was the offense that you got to play in and the complexity of it. If you want to play quarterback in college, there is not a better offense that you can play in because you got to do all the stuff that a college offense does, so it is nice that you get a lot of recognition of being at Cretin Derham Hall and the past that they have had and they have a lot of good players around you, too, that help you look good and you help them look good. There was not another program that I would have rather played at.
Gopher Hole: What things are going to be trying to work on to continue to improve yourself as a player to get ready for camp?
Conor Rhoda: I think that the main thing is just gaining weight and getting faster. I want to work on my footwork. There isn’t really one thing that I want to focus on. I need to get better at everything.
Gopher Hole: Are you playing any spring sports at Cretin?
Conor Rhoda: I’m playing baseball. I am a captain for the baseball team. We have captain practices starting up. I pitched my sophomore and junior years and this year, I’ll pitch and play right field, too.