Gophers coach PJ Fleck gives walk-on Derik LeCaptain scholarship

University of Minnesota football coach PJ Fleck spoke Tuesday as the Gophers start fall camp on Wednesday, with Ohio State looming in the season opener on Sept. 2.

PJ Fleck wants the University of Minnesota football team to be the most connected program in America as it enters the 2021 season.

The Gophers took a big step in that direction at a team meeting during fall camp Tuesday night. Redshirt sophomore Derik LeCaptain is a walk-on no more. The linebacker and special teams expert was awarded a scholarship.

It happened as various players got up, grabbed oars and told stories about what the word on the oar meant to them. Linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin got an oar with "Trust." Tanner Morgan fought tears, getting an oar with "FAMILY," as he talked about how teammates helped him get through his father’s death.

LeCaptain represented Minnesota’s special teams. He was the 2019 Scout Team Player of the Year, and was one of a few MVP’s of the 2021 Spring Game after making an interception. He picked up an oar that said, "You’re on scholarship!" and his teammates erupted.

"Thanks Coach, I appreciate you giving me a shot. Not a lot of schools took a chance on me, and you did, so thank you for that. To all you guys, I love every single one of you. Every time I step foot on the field, it’s (expletive) you guys and nobody else," LeCaptain said.

He shared the moment with his mom on FaceTime after the team meeting, and she was in disbelief.