Zack Annexstad isn't your average walk-on. For one, he passed on FBS offers for a walk-on opportunity at a program who hasn't fielded a reliable quarterback in a decade. For another, he'll join Baker Mayfield as the only freshman walk-ons to start Week 1 in FBS history.
Annexstad was born in Norseland, Minn., an unincorporated community about 70 miles southwest of Minneapolis. His father, Scott, played for the Gophers in the 1980s, and his older brother, Brock, redshirted as a freshman receiver last year. Zack started his football career at Mankato (Minn.) West High School before transferring to IMG Academy, where he beat out four-star Miami (FL) commit — and eventual Rutgers signee — Artur Sitkowski for the starting quarterback job.
Annexstad, the 1,472nd-ranked prospect in the 2018 class and the 50th-ranked pro-style passer, had offers from five FBS programs, including Cincinnati, Illinois and Pittsburgh, and interest from several big-time programs like Alabama and Florida State. Instead of accepting a scholarship offer or walk-on opportunity at a program that's actually won a conference championship in the last 50 years, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Annexstad wanted to go home. He committed to Minnesota last September, kept his word and enrolled in January.
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"It's always been my dream to be a Gopher," he said last year. "It's exciting that it's finally come true. My family and friends can come to my games. I'm really excited to get started."
He immediately entered into a quarterback competition with Vic Viramontes, the top-ranked JUCO quarterback in the 2018 class, and Tanner Morgan, a redshirt freshman and former Western Michigan commit whom P.J. Fleck handpicked from Kentucky. And on Monday, Fleck named Annexstad the Gophers' starting quarterback. When he does start their Week 1 game vs. New Mexico State on Thursday, Aug. 30, Annexstad will become the second true freshman walk-on starting quarterback in FBS history.
The other: Baker Mayfield. Not terrible company.
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