Brylee Callender Still in Gopher Recruiting Mix

Brylee Callender, a 6-1, 189-pound Lakeville running back who was recruited by Minnesota out of high school, scored twice in the opener for Feather River (CA) CC. Callender burst on the scene as a senior, leading the Panthers to a 14-0 mark and a Prep Bowl championship as he rushed 266 times for 2,132 yards. Unfortunately, he was forced to go the JC route after failing to land a qualifying test score. caught up with his mother Tracy Friedges to find the latest on Callender.

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 as a senior. 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 as a senior 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 of 2004.

Callender has made big strides in his academics as a senior after previously struggling in the classroom. His friendship with teammate Vinny Flury (whom 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.

Callender rushed 37 times for 197 yards as a freshman with one touchdown. He caught two passes for 28 yards. The Golden Eagles had seven players rush for 100 or more yards last season.

Callender's mother, Tracy Friedges, said that Brylee is hearing from Minnesota, Middle Tennessee State, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska and Nevada.

She said that Callender is still on target to graduate at the end of the fall term with the hopes of enrolling at a Division I school in January and participating in spring practice.

"If he does not a fail a class, he should graduate. He took some on-line courses during the summer when he was back in Minnesota for two months."

Callender spend part of the summer coaching the Lakeville youth team during the school's football camps. Friedges said that Callender got a kick out of working with the young players.

"He had so much fun with that. He coached a group of 7th and 8th graders. His team won the league and went undefeated. They called themselves Brylee's Beasts. He had a blast doing it and would come home with a smile."

Friedges said that Minnesota is the favorite for his services.

"I asked him of all the schools, where do you want to go? He said Minnesota. If they want him and he wants to go there, there is not really a reason to visit the other schools."

Friedges said that Minnesota assistant Vic Adamle, who also serves as the team's running back coach, has been in contact with the coaches and school dean.

"I'm not sure if offer is the right word, but they have definitely dangled an offer. They told him to stay out of trouble and get good grades," Friedges said.

Friedges said that she plans to fly down to Feather River for his game Saturday and return to Minnesota Sunday.

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. 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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