Kyle Dykstra Gets Preferred Walk-on Status

Kyle Dykstra, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end from Princeton (MN) High, is expected to be a preferred-walk-on with Minnesota next fall. Dykstra helped lead the Tigers to a 4-5 mark, losing to Delano 34-28 in the first round of the Class AAAA, Section 5 playoffs. GoldenSports.Net caught up with Dykstra to learn the the latest.

Kyle Dykstra picked a preferred walk-on opportunity with Minnesota over a similar offer from Nebraska and scholarship offers from several smaller schools.

"I had a scholarship offer from Southwest State and University of Mary," he said. "I had an offer from Midland Lutheran College in Nebraska. I kind of made my decision early where I wanted to go, so I did not get too many offers going into recruiting season. I was pretty much set on Minnesota."

Dykstra attended the Iowa State and Nebraska team camps this summer and works out at the Game Speed Football Academy in Eden Prairie, which is run by former Minnesota Vikings trainer Mark Ellis.

Dykstra did not attend the Minnesota football camp, but was at the Northwestern game.

Dykstra had also considered walking-on at Nebraska.

"My mother lives in Nebraska and I could have gone on a visit this weekend," he said.

Despite the ties to Nebraska, Dykstra felt that the lure of playing in Minnesota was too hard to turn down.

"The coaches are great," he said. "The new facility. The TCF Bank Stadium. I was really interested in that. The tradition that they have. I'd like to be on a team that I see can restore the old tradition of Minnesota."

Dykstra played both sides of the field for Princeton, but the Gophers are looking at him as a defensive end.

"I like weakside, but I can play anything," he said. "I can gain weight. I can go interior. I can play exterior. I can do pretty much whatever they want," he said. "I'm confident that I can do that. I'm just looking forward to being a part of that team."

Dykstra said that the Gophers coaches have not talked to me too much about expectations for him.

"Not too much," he said. "They were just really impressed with my film and saw that I had a high motor and could do some things. I was actually being recruited as a long snapper there. I had gone down on my visit and they said that they weren't even interested in me as a long snapper and me and my father were shocked. They said, 'We want you as a defensive end' and from there on I went as a defensive end. That's what I was recruited as and that is what I got my offer as."

Dykstra was a member of the wrestling team last year, but decide to not participate this year. Princeton has an outstanding heavyweight and Dykstra would would have had to lose weight to wrestle at 215 pounds, something he was not willing to do with the prospect of playing college football ahead of him.

"We have one of the best heavyweights in the state," he said. "I think he is #3 in the state. He was undefeated. Last night, he lost to the #6 kid in the nation. I did not want to lose weight. With recruiting, I did not want to get hurt. I just want to focus on my main sport, football. I had started wrestling to get better at football. To learn some leverage and techniques and it worked. I knew football was my main sport, and without wrestling I can get more time to lift and get stronger and bigger and focus on preparing and earning a scholarship, which is my main goal."

Dykstra said that one of the main selling points to walking-on at Minnesota was their success with former walk-ons who have not only gone on to earn a scholarship, but become starters for the Gophers.

"When they invited me down for their walk-on day, they had a paper that said Coach Brewster had 13 former walk-ons and eight were on the two-deep," he said. "I am confident with my size at 6-foot-4 and 245 to 250 pounds, and I'm confident with my size and lifting at a Division I program that I can build myself and be one of those guys and be starting my true sophomore year."

Dykstra, who hopes to become a conservation officer, is an excellent student.

"I am a big kid on academics and I have a 3.4 GPA," he said. "It's not perfect, but I had challenged myself throughout to take college courses as a junior and multiple college classes. I did my best. It was a little hard. I knew that Minnesota had a great tradition of being one of the top universities in the nation for research. To be a part of that and be part of that team, it sounded like a pretty good package to me."

Dykstra will likely start school in the summer.

"I have been thinking about that," he said. "With other schools, they have the BRIDGE program where you go in the summer and they pay for it. Minnesota doesn't, so I am trying to work some stuff out financially and see what is going to happen there because I am probably going to be redshirting my freshman year obviously. Do I need to be there in the summer? Yes. Will I make it happen? I'm trying."

Dykstra's father, David is hoping that his son will make an impact at Minnesota.

"They are losing a pretty fair Dutch defensive end (Willie VandeSteeg), but they gaining another one," David said.

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories