Entering the 2016 college football season, Minnesota redshirt senior quarterback Mitch Leidner is receiving plenty of praise and draft hype. The 6-foot-4, 237 pounder is viewed as one of the top senior signal-callers in the nation, but Gophers head coach Tracy Claeys is tuning out that talk.
Claeys admitted he doesn’t pay attention to the discussion in NFL circles and that his main focus is on the Gophers this upcoming season. But while Claeys is ignoring the hype for now to keep everything in perspective for Leidner, he does acknowledge his quarterback could have a very bright future if he plays up to his potential.
“I don’t pay attention much to the NFL stuff,” Claeys said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I would say this: He has the size, he has the skills they look for. Mitch knows — to be a No. 1 pick, he’s going to have to play well. So everybody gets a little ahead of themselves by writing articles like that.
“But we do have expectations for him being a senior. [Football’s] important to him. He loves being the quarterback at the University of Minnesota. He’s a Minnesota kid, and he’s tough. I think with the addition of [offensive coordinator] Jay Johnson coaching the quarterbacks, I think Mitch will have a big year. And if he does, he’ll get rewarded next spring.”
Leidner certainly has the size and athleticism to be a high-end draft prospect, but he’s going to need to drastically improve his decision making and accuracy.
Just two seasons ago, the quarterback had an atrocious 51.5 completion percentage. Last season, Leidner improved his completion percentage to 59.5 percent, but underwhelmed Gophers fans with a lackluster 14/11 touchdown to interception ratio.
If he wants to top NFL draft boards, we need to see a better effort in 2016.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports