Derrick Engel has seven catches this year for 136 yards.
GopherSports: You took a pretty interesting route to become a Gopher. Can you tell us about it?
Derrick Engel: I was offered a preferred walk-on spot here out of high school, but I got wait-listed. I really wanted to come here and walk-on, but I was also recruited at numerous division two schools so I ended up getting a scholarship to Winona State. I really liked the school there and the coaches. I did not get accepted to Minnesota right away, so I decided to take the scholarship on signing day. I got a lot of playing time in my two years there and do not regret that at all. With coach Kill coming in there was an opportunity to come to Minnesota. The timing was right and I have done well here. I have a 3.5 GPA, so it has been a good decision both athletically and academically.
GS: You have seen significant playing time this year. Is that what you expected?
DE: I do not know if I expected it, but that has been my goal the entire time. I did not have any doubts in my mind that I could get to that point, but I knew I had to work really hard and prove to the coaches every day that I belong here and can play here. I know nothing is given to me and I have to earn everything I get.
GS: Tell us about your first catch as a Gopher. It was a 33-yard gain and came in the season-opener at UNLV.
DE: At the moment it was definitely a relief just to make the catch and know that I did not let my teammates down on that play. As far as that play, it was called during a TV timeout so I knew the play for about three minutes and knew I would probably get the ball. It ended up working out well for me and I made the catch. I have built off that and am trying to keep getting better every day.
GS: Do you remember how many fans you played in front of at Winona?
DE: I think the most at our home field at Winona was 6,000. In high school I played in front of more people than that, so it is quite a difference this year. You get out there and you do not really see anything. You just see the field and it is normal football. You can definitely feel the intensity from the crowd and hear the noise, but when you are out there you are focused and block everything out except for the game.
GS: What do you like to do off the field?
DE: I am definitely into all sports. I like basketball, football, hockey and baseball. I played basketball in high school up until my junior year and ended up quitting so I could focus on football. I was trying to put on some more weight for college. I did track one year and did not really like it, but I was fast. I have a long stride, so people do not really see me until I go running by them.
GS: How much weight have you put on from high school until now?
DE: My junior year in high school I weighed 149 pounds and then I weighed 160 pounds my senior year. In college I weighed 164 pounds in my freshman year and 168 pounds as a sophomore. Last year, when I got here I weighed 176 pounds and now I am about 184 pounds. I have gotten bigger every year.
GS: You live with A.J. Barker. You two have a similar story. What is it like living with him?
DE: We talk about everything and are pretty close. I think we play well together on the field as well because we know one another so well.
GS: Is there competition between the two of you off the field? There any trash talking going on?
DE: There is competition every day, but not necessarily trash talking. He is a pretty confident guy. I have to try to beat him at stuff to make sure he knows he is not the best at everything.
GS: You guys play basketball, who is winning that game?
DE: He would beat me in basketball without a doubt. He has that jump shot, but I think I would beat him in track especially at a longer distance. I would pull away at the end.
GS: We hear you are pretty big video game player. What is your favorite game?
DE: I like all the EA games, especially NBA 2k13. I am pretty average, but can compete with everyone on the team. I don't get blown out by anyone. I have heard Brandon Green is pretty good, but have never played him. I should probably give him a matchup and see how good he is.
GS: So where does all your athleticism come from?
DE: Both my parents went to Augsburg and were All-Americans. They are both in the Augsburg Hall of Fame. My dad was a basketball player and my mom ran hurdles. I kind of meshed the two together and got both the athleticism and the speed from both.
GS: Tell us about your brother and sister.
DE: I have a sister Kaylee and a brother Sean. Kaylee is a senior in high school. She does really well in school and is still deciding on her college choices. Sean is in ninth grade and looks like he might be a pretty good athlete. He has grown probably close to a foot in the last year and is now taller than me. He plays receiver and safety in football and plays basketball too.
GS: Might be nice for him to have a college receiver as an older brother. You help him out?
DE: Definitely. I have shown him a lot of things that kids his age have no idea about. He is using them well.