Gopher target Brylee Callender still in the mix

Brylee Callender, a 6-1, 189-pound running back from Lakeville who was recruited by Minnesota this past season, scored his first touchdown of the season for Feather River (CA) CC. Callender burst on the season last year as he led the Panthers to a 14-0 mark and a Prep Bowl championship and rushed 266 times for 2,132 yards as a senior. Unfortunately, he failed to land a qualifying score on his standardized test and was forced to go the JC route.

Brylee Callender emerged as a top prospect as a senior and was named to the Minneapolis Star Tribune All-Metro Team, AP All-State and St. Paul Pioneer Press All-State team. Callender rushed 26 times for 226 yards and two scores in the 34-9 championship game win over Hastings and 22 times for 266 yards with three touchdowns in the semifinals win over Armstrong. Callender finished with 37 rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores this season. He did not play as a junior, due to a Minnesota High School League violation, and Callender's sophomore season was cut short by a burst appendix.


Callender had baseball options as well. Baseball had become his Plan B after playing on Lakeville's American Legion team during the 2003 summer and batting .355. He was hitting .429 this past season and he had gotten interest from several major league scouts, including questionnaires from the Minnesota Twins and Florida Marlins. Unfortunately, he was suspended from the Panthers baseball team for the rest of the season for violating Minnesota State High School League rules in May and failed to land a qualifying score on his standardized test. Callender was reportedly charged with consumption by a minor at his high school prom.  The suspension hurt his chances of being seen by more major league scouts and he went undrafted in the MLB Draft in June.


Callender has made big strides in his academics in the past year after previously struggling in the classroom. His friendship with teammate Vinny Flury (who the Gophers recruited as a potential walk-on and is now at Minnesota-Duluth) helped Callender on the field and in the classroom as well.


I spoke with Callender's mother, Tracy Friedges, recently about the latest on her son.


She said that Callender did not play in Feather River's season-opening 24-14 loss to Fresno City College. He did get in their second game of the season against Butte and scored on a 3-yard touchdown run after gaining 10 yards on the previous play. Callender is hoping that his strong play at the end of the game will earn him more playing time this week against Delta College, which is located in Stockton. Callender is currently second on the depth chart behind a sophomore running back.


Friedges said that her son is taking 18 credits and doing great. He is on track to get his degree in a year and half with the hopes of joining a Division I school for spring practice to give him a jump on the competition. Gopher running backs coach Vic Adamle has been responsible for recruiting Callender for Minnesota.


Friedges said Callender is also playing baseball for Feather River after a strong summer of Legion ball, where he hit 14 homers. His baseball exploits had caught the attention of Gopher assistant coach Rob Fornasiere.


Friedges said Feather River had recruited Callender hard after word got out that he would have to go to a junior college. Their athletic director and dean of students, Paul Thein, has a nephew, Adam, who also attended Lakeville High this past season. Thein learned about Callender and recruited him. They eventually flew him out for a visit and Callender decided to sign with the Golden Eagles. 

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