With the news Sunday that Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan was returning for a sixth season in 2022, there figured to be other QBs on the roster who might transfer. On Monday, backup Zack Annexstad announced on Twitter that he's leaving the program.
Annexstad is the second Gophers quarterback to enter the transfer portal in two days. On Sunday, redshirt sophomore Jacob Clark announced he was leaving the program.
"The University of Minnesota has allowed a young Minnesota kid to live out his dream of playing in the Maroon and Gold. That is why this decision was anything but easy,'' wrote Annexstad, who also thanked coach P.J. Fleck, teammates, family and support staff. "… I have made so many lifelong friendships here. With that said, I have decided to enter the transfer portal and play my remaining years of eligibility elsewhere.''
Annexstad, a fourth-year junior, will have two years of eligibility remaining.
A Norseland, Minn., native, Annexstad was the most experienced of the Gophers quarterbacks behind Morgan. He won the starting job out of training camp as a freshman in 2018 and started the first seven games, completing 97 of 187 passes for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns with seven interceptions. He went 3-4 as a starter before Morgan took over.
Annexstad, whose brother, Brock, is a wide receiver/kick returner for the Gophers and whose father, Scott, was a guard for Minnesota in the early 1980s, played high school football at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he became a three-star recruit. He also helped convince IMG offensive line teammates Daniel Faalele and Curtis Dunlap Jr. to join the Gophers.
Annexstad's departure leaves the Gophers with three returning scholarship quarterbacks: Morgan; Cole Kramer, who ran the wildcat offense this season and will be a redshirt junior in 2022; and Athan Kaliakmanis, a redshirt freshman next year. Incoming freshman Jacob Knuth of Harrisburg, S.D., also will be on scholarship and will join the team as an early enrollee in January.
Cornerback Justin Walley, who made a momentum-swinging interception in the Gophers' 23-13 victory over No. 14 Wisconsin on Saturday, was named the Big Ten's freshman of the week on Monday.
Walley, a true freshman from D'Iberville, Miss., also finished with a career-high five tackles as the Gophers beat the Badgers to win Paul Bunyan's Axe for the second time in four years and the first time in Minneapolis since 2003.
Walley's biggest impact came on the third play of the third quarter with Wisconsin leading 10-6. Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz threw a pass toward wide receiver Kendric Pryor near the right sideline, and Walley swooped in and won a battle for the ball with Pryor, giving the Gophers possession at Wisconsin's 28 Two plays later, Ky Thomas' 2-yard touchdown run put Minnesota up 13-10.
Faalele to Senior Bowl
Faalele, a senior tackle, accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl on Feb. 5 in Mobile, Ala.
The 6-9, 380-pound Faalele had a year of eligibility remaining but opted to embark on his professional career.