P.J. Fleck: Cole Kramer will start at QB for Gophers in Quick Lane Bowl

Cole Kramer is in his fifth season with the University of Minnesota football team, and the senior will get his first career start for the Gophers in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 at Ford Field in Detroit.

P.J. Fleck made that official on a virtual press conference Monday as the Gophers will face Bowling Green. Minnesota is playing in its 24th bowl game, is on a six-game bowl win streak and is 4-0 in bowl games under Fleck. The Gophers earned a bowl game despite a 5-7 regular season because of their APR score of 992, which was the highest among five-win teams.

Kramer played briefly at North Carolina earlier this season, but he gets the nod with Athan Kaliakmanis entering the transfer portal on Monday. Max Shikenjanski will be the back-up.

"Cole Kramer will start for us. There’s really no other option. Cole Kramer has played a lot of football for us at the quarterback position. He’s really evolved from more of a wildcat quarterback to a real quarterback over his time here," Fleck said. "Cole Kramer we have 100 percent belief in, he’s been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. Loves the Gophers and he’s got a great opportunity to go up against a really good football team."

Kramer has played in 21 career games. He’s run the ball 44 times as a wildcat quarterback, and has 14 passing attempts. He had a pass intended for Daniel Jackson in the end zone intercepted in a loss to the Tar Heels.

In the age of the one-time free transfer and NIL, thousands of players entered the portal this week. Kaliakmanis and Zach Evans are the two biggest names for the Gophers to leave, but several are staying. That list includes Darius Taylor, Daniel Jackson, Cody Lindenberg, Justin Walley and most recently, offensive lineman Aireontae Ersery.

They’ve all announced partnerships with Dinkytown Athletes, the collective that pays student-athletes through NIL. Fleck talks with all of his players after each season to see where their future is with the program.

"The No. 1 word is transparency. Our Dinkytown Athletes have done a great job of taking care of our student-athletes. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to have full transparency. Some guys are going to be able to accept that challenge, some aren’t," Fleck said.