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Where are they now?: Jon Leverenz

03/01/2004, 12:00am CST
By Rob Litt

Where Are They Now?

It has been more than 15 years since he wore the maroon and gold, but Jon Leverenz can still be found scattered throughout Gopher record books. His contribution on the Gopher program can still be felt as has since turned to coaching where he has developed a current and future Gopher.

Leverenz was an imposing linebacker for the Gophers in the mid- to late-"˜80s and was named second team All Big Ten in 1987. He is among the all-time program leaders in the following categories: tackles for a loss for freshman and sophomore, second all time for season tackles (1987 with 162 tackles) and led the team with tackles and sacks in 1987.

A 1987 recipient of the Carl Eller Award distinguishing the teams Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Leverenz was selected in the 11th round by the Washington Redskins in the 1990 NFL Draft. After a year in Washington under Coach Joe Gibbs, Leverenz hung up the cleats and returned to The U where he earned his B.S. in Biology and his Masters of Science in Education. Leverenz now teaches in the Bloomington Jefferson school district and is the head football coach for Jefferson where he coached current Gopher Tony Brinkhaus and future Gopher Andy Brinkhaus.

Leverenz recently spoke with GopherHole and talked about his days as a Gopher, the differences between Coach Lou Holtz and Coach John Gutekuknst, and his love for coaching. Where has your post Gopher career taken you?

Leverenz: After my time in Minnesota I was drafted by the Redskins and spent one year with Washington under Coach Gibbs. After that I decided to retire as a player and returned to The U where I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees with the intention of becoming a teacher and high school coach. I've been with the Jefferson school district for a while now and really love it. I really enjoy teaching and love to coach as well. It's great to work with kids at this age both in the classroom and on the field. How did you enjoy playing for Coach Gibbs?

Leverenz: He is a great man that has a genuine care for his players and coaching staff. I obviously didn't play that long for him but he treated me as if I had a long career under him. I remember after I retired I went into the Washington locker room a year or so after and he immediately came up to me and offered to help out in any way he could whether it was with a letter of recommendation or making a call for me if I wanted. He treated everyone like that. Thinking back to your days as a Gopher, are there any games that stand out more than others?

Leverenz: I think anyone that was on the team in 1986 will say that the Michigan win is far and away the most memorable and thrilling game they've ever been a part of. That was such an incredible win and it really meant a lot for our program. It's been roughly 20 years since we have had The Little Brown Jug but hopefully that will end this year. We've certainly been close the last few years. What do you remember about Coach Nash's speech prior to the Michigan game?

Leverenz: That was something that I will never forget. It didn't matter if you were black or white or rich or poor or from a small town or a big city, he made that speech relate to each and everyone one of us. We were so fired up after that speech it was like a movie. That win meant a lot to him. He was a walking Gopher encyclopedia. What were the differences between Coach Holtz and Coach Gutekunst?

Leverenz: Coach Holtz was far and away the most impressive speaker I have ever heard. He had such an incredible ability to motivate our team. He would give these speeches before a single practice that would have the entire team so fired up that we were willing to put everything on the line on behalf of the state of Minnesota just in practice. Gutekunst was not as charismatic as Holtz, but he knows the game of football as well as anyone I have ever come in contact with. He could dissect a problem with a formation well before looking at game film. I learned a lot of X's and O's from him. Do you still keep in contact with any of your former teammates?

Leverenz: I try to get to as many Gopher games as I can and I definitely see a lot of them at the games. I also run into some of the guys around town. It's fun to see how everyone is doing. What are your thoughts on the current Gopher program?

Leverenz: I think Coach Mason is doing a wonderful job here. He has us at a level that we hadn't seen around here in years. We're just a bounce here or there from getting to the next level. He's doing things the right way and I know that will pay off in the end. With Tony Brinkahus as a former player of yours now wearing maroon and gold and his younger brother Andy following his path in a year, what advice have you given these guys about The U?

Leverenz: More than anything I continue to stress to take time to enjoy the journey. It will be the fastest four or five years of their life and before they realize it Senior Day will be upon them. I hope they enjoy the long days of practice and the constant weight training as much as they enjoy the relationships they make off the field. It truly is an amazing experience.

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Tag(s): Where Are They Now?