Isaac Fruechte's football dreams became reality at the University of Minnesota
By Dugan Thomas
CALEDONIA, MN - 1/04/2014
It started with a dream.
A little kid whose father took him to Minnesota Gophers football games and team practices. An entire family that wore maroon and gold hats and jackets with the huge capital "M".
Isaac Fruechte's dad wasn't an ordinary football fan. This was multiple state champion Caledonia football coach Carl Fruechte. A legendary coach in Caledonia, Carl has coached state title teams in football, boys track & field, and girls basketball for the Warriors.
Carl was a huge fan of Minnesota Gophers football, and his son became one instantly. Isaac said, "I've been a Gophers fan since I knew what football was, it's always been my dream to play for the Gophers."
That dream was kept alive in high school when Isaac turned into a star wide receiver, and safety for his dad's Caledonia Warrior football team. They won back-to-back state titles in 2007, and 2008, and Isaac dominated southeast Minnesota in the 100 meter dash on the Caledonia track & field team.
Fruechte was named to the Pioneer Press All-State team after his senior football season. A two-time Associated Press All-State honorable mention, the 6' 3" 190 pound wide receiver recruit, was drawing interest from multiple top level football programs.
To Isaac, there was only one.
The Minnesota Gophers coaching staff under Tim Brewster liked Isaac, they wanted him to join the team as a preferred walk-on - but, there was a problem. Under the University of Minnesota's strict admission standards, Isaac's math score in high school wasn't good enough. He would have to have to go to junior college to take care of it.
The Minnesota coaches would stand by Isaac. Get your grades, keep playing football, get faster and stronger, we'll talk to you after the season.
Isaac enrolled at Rochester Community and Technical College in the fall of 2010 and did everything he needed to do. He hit the books, he hit the weight room, and he starred on the football field. He started at wide receiver for the Yellowjackets as a freshman, and put up big numbers. 30 receptions for 805 yards and 9 touchdowns, earning second-team All-Conference honors. He put on 25 pounds of muscle, and kept his 4.4 speed.
The Minnesota Gophers football program was in a downward spiral, and head coach Tim Brewster was fired during the 2010 season. In December of 2010, Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill was hired as the new head football coach of the Minnesota Gophers.
Carl Fruechte did what he would do for any of his players who wanted to play college football. He kept on the phones to the Minnesota Gophers coaches, and developed a relationship with Jerry Kill.
Pat Poore the new wide receivers coach under Jerry Kill evaluated Isaac and liked what he saw on tape. The speed, the athletic ability, the hands, the hard work, the dedication. In June of 2011, Isaac received the call of a lifetime. The Minnesota Gophers had a full-ride scholarship available, and it had Isaac Fruechte's name on it - but there was a catch.
Isaac would have to sit out the 2011 football season to keep a year of eligibility. He would have to graduate from RCTC in December, and then he could join the Gophers for spring practice in 2012, and have three years of eligibility remaining.
Isaac hit the books, stayed involved with the RCTC football team as a coach, and stayed in the weight room. He graduated from RCTC in December and enrolled at the U of M for the spring semester.
New Gophers head coach Jerry Kill struggled in his first season at Minnesota going 3-9. His motto for building his football teams was called, "Brick by Brick". One of those building blocks going into the 2012 season was Isaac Fruechte. His speed and size was exactly what the new Gophers offense needed at the wide receiver position, and he was going to get his chance.
In his first season Isaac started 9 out of 12 games. He recorded 19 receptions for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns for the run-heavy Minnesota offense. The Gophers improved their record to 6-7 and went to the Texas Bowl, their first bowl game in years. Isaac was named Minnesota's Wide Receiver of the Year at the Gophers annual football banquet. The hard work, the dedication, the commitment to living out his dream, was paying off for Isaac Fruechte.
In 2013 Isaac started 6 out of 13 games. He had 13 receptions for 154 yards, in a year where the passing game struggled, and the running game flourished. Emerging running back David Cobb had a 1,200 yard season, and redshirt freshman tight end Maxx Williams was opening eyes with 417 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Gophers beat Nebraska and Penn State during another building season, and the Brick-by-Brick motto was gaining steam under coach Jerry Kill. They improved their record to 8-5, and went back to the Texas Bowl for the second year in a row.
Isaac Fruechte's role wasn't expanding, but the team was building - and winning. Isaac isn't your typical diva wide receiver demanding the ball - Isaac is a football player. He did everything the Gophers coaches told him to do. Blocking in the run game, being a decoy down the field, doing the dirty work - helping the team win.
In Isaac's senior year of 2014, he played in all 13 games, with 18 receptions for 292 yards and a touchdown. As the year went on, Isaac's role expanded. He had 3 receptions for 46 yards against Northwestern, and a 45-yard catch against Purdue. He had a career game with 3 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown against Illinois.
The offensive attack was led by David Cobb's 1,675 yards rushing, along with All-American tight end Maxx Williams, who had 569 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. The Gophers went 8-5 again in 2014, beating Michigan, Iowa, and Nebraska, to earn a New Years Day bowl game in the Citrus Bowl. The "Brick-by-Brick" motto Jerry Kill is teaching at Minnesota, has brought the program back to relevance, and it's definitely getting stronger every year. Minnesota is very fortunate to have Coach Jerry Kill.
Isaac Fruechte earned his second Wide Receiver of the Year award at the 2014 Gophers football banquet. His commitment and dedication to his team during his three years with the Minnesota Gophers should be applauded. The community of Caledonia and the State of Minnesota is extremely proud to have him as a role model for our youth. Isaac is everything a college student-athlete should be, on-and-off the field.
What's next for Isaac Fruechte?
In early March, the University of Minnesota will hold their pro day for NFL general managers, coaches, and scouts. Isaac will be training the next couple months for his shot at professional football. With his speed, athleticism, and size, he'll have as good a shot as anyone. If he doesn't get drafted, he'll still have a shot to sign as a free-agent to make it into an NFL camp.
Isaac's also on track to receive his Recreation, Park, and Leisure degree, with a coaching minor from the University of Minnesota. If professional football isn't in his future, he'd like to be a fitness trainer with an emphasis in speed training, and a football coach. With lessons learned from his dad and Coach Kill, there's no doubt he'd be a natural at that.
Isaac Fruechte had a great ride with the Minnesota Gophers, and proved with hard work, dedication, and determination, a person can achieve great things. A small town kid, with a big-time supportive family and community, whose dreams came true. Whatever the future holds for Isaac Fruechte, there's one thing I would definitely...never...do...
Bet against him.