Mike Conway, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior quarterback from La Crosse (Wisc.) Aquinas, visited Minnesota this past weekend. Conway, a
three-sport standout, has narrowed his choice to two schools, including the Golden Gophers. GopherHole.com recently caught
up with Conway to learn the latest on his recruitment.
Conway threw for 1,950 yards and 20 touchdowns as he completed 108 of 225 attempts. He ran for more than 800 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns and had a receiving touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown.
Conway was named the 2012 La Crosse Tribune Football Player of the Year after several strong performances against crosstown rivals Central (404 combined yards passing and rushing, five total touchdowns) and Logan (250 passing yards, four touchdowns). He shined down the stretch, especially in the last five contests of the season, including playoff games against previously undefeated Cuba City and Durand. Conway either passed or ran for 1,559 of Aquinas' 1,721 yards of offense.
Conway tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder during an injury-shortened junior season. He had surgery in November and missed basketball season, but competed in track and field, finishing third in the Division 2 triple jump at the WIAA state meet. He wasn't able to throw until late May, but went to several camps in this past summer.
Conway completed 65 of 136 passes for 619 yards as a junior in five games in an injury-shortened season. He threw for three touchdowns and had seven interceptions. Conway, who helped lead the Blugolds to a 2-7 mark, rushed 40 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns. He caught five passes for 98 yards.
GopherHole.com recently caught up with Conway to learn the latest on
Gopher Hole: What is the latest on your football recruitment right now?
Michael Conway: Right now, Minnesota wants me as a preferred walk-on and NDSU (North Dakota State University), I have a full ride with them. I have pretty much narrowed it down to those two.
Gopher Hole: You visited Minnesota this past week. How was the visit?
Michael Conway: Oh, I loved it. I love the city. I like the campus. I like the coaches and I think that I could see myself there, but I have an official visit to NDSU a week from Saturday, so we’ll see how that goes.
Gopher Hole: Do you have a way that you are leaning yet or are you keeping an open mind until you take that visit to NDSU?
Michael Conway: I am trying to stay pretty balanced right now to give a fair look to NDSU right now. After that, I’ll probably make a decision that week right after.
Gopher Hole: The Gophers don’t have a lot of quarterbacks on their roster. Is that something that they have talked to you about and that they are looking for people at that position?
Michael Conway: Yes. They said that they are running a little bit thin at the QB position and even a little bit at receiver right now. I try not to look at receiver right now. Hopefully, focus right on quarterback right now.
Gopher Hole: You were named the La Crosse Tribune Player of the Year. You obviously had to be pleased with that kind of honor?
Michael Conway: Yes. To be recognized as a player. There have been so many great players to have been named the Tribune Player of the Year. To get that recognition is an honor.
Gopher Hole: Did you get a chance to go many college football games this
Michael Conway: I went to two Minnesota ones against Syracuse and Michigan and then I went to one NDSU one. They played South Dakota State,
Gopher Hole: Did you get a chance to go to many football camps last summer?
Michael Conway: Yes. I went to Wisconsin’s camp, Minnesota’s and NDSU’s. They were all one-day camps.
Gopher Hole: How is your health? I know that you missed some time last year with a rotator cuff injury. How are you feeling now?
Michael Conway: It feels great right now.
Gopher Hole: What is going to be the main factor of picking Minnesota or NDSU?
Michael Conway: I don’t know if there is one main thing rather than just a bunch of things. It obviously comes down to the coaches and their program and the direction that they are headed. NDSU obviously has a great program right now, winning two national championships, but Minnesota with Kill’s track record, they are definitely on their way up. Academics is a big one. I love Minnesota’s school and their classes and all that. I haven’t really had a chance to see much of NDSU’s school and all that. It is just what I am feeling, I guess. Where I feel most at home as of right now.
Gopher Hole: How involved have other people been like your high school coaches and your parents or has it been mostly your decision so far or are you looking at them for advice?
Michael Conway: They all have which ones they prefer me to go to, which they think is the smartest, but overall they all think that it is my decision and wherever I think is the best fit, they will be behind me all the way, which is great to have. There are a few people that I have asked their opinions on. A few people that I respect a lot and would not point me in the wrong direction.
Gopher Hole: You have to feel that with either situation you are going to have some great opportunities, no matter which way you go?
Michael Conway: Right. One, they are back-to-back national champions and in the other, you are playing in the Big Ten.
Gopher Hole: You won the state title in basketball when you were a sophomore. Unfortunately, last year, you had some injury issues with yourself and Wisconsin signee Bronson Koenig? How pleased are you with how well things are going so far this season?
Michael Conway: We started out a little bit slowly. We had some guys out and we had some injuries, but since we have had everybody healthy, we have seemed to get into a groove and we have been rolling pretty well. It is great.
Gopher Hole: Does having that experience of winning a state title two years ago help you so that you know what you need to do to get to that level again?
Michael Conway: Right. It was great to win it a couple of years ago, but one of the biggest things right now is having the leadership that we did a couple of years ago and use that as a role model to guide our team. We know what it takes to get there, so it makes us strive that much harder.
Gopher Hole: Has Minnesota talked much about what you need to do to go from being a preferred walk-on to being a scholarship player? Minnesota, like a lot of schools, has kids who started out as preferred walk-on who are now scholarship players.
Michael Conway: Right. They talked to me about that. They said, just come in and work hard, be coachable and just compete every day. If you do your best and go out there and prove something and make plays, they are definitely going to take care of you.
Gopher Hole: What do you see as your strengths as a quarterback?
Michael Conway: I have been around the game for a very long time. My dad (offensive coordinator at Aquinas, who was the defensive coordinator at UW-La Crosse after playing at St. Thomas) has been coaching for as long as I can remember, so I have been around the game so much that I understand it pretty well. I know what defenses are trying to do, so I know how to attack them, that obviously makes it a lot easier for me. I have a decent arm, so I can get the ball in there, but it is a lot easier to anticipate things and place it at the right spot. I would say accuracy is one of my bigger things and the ability to escape if I have to.
Gopher Hole: You have also become friends with Jack Jablonski, the high school hockey player from Benilde St. Margaret’s who last winter was paralyzed after taking a hit in a game. How did you get to become friends with him and what has that relationship meant to you?
Michael Conway: His dad (Mike Jablonski) and my dad (Jeff Conway) were really good childhood friends, so they grew up together and are still pretty close. I would meet Jack every once in awhile. For that to happen to him is just terrible. I use him as kind of a reference whenever I feel like not getting up and lifting or not going hard in some reps. I look at him and he would do anything to get up at six a.m. and lift. I can’t complain much when you have someone sitting in a chair his whole life.
Gopher Hole: You mentioned possibly moving to wide receiver. Have you played that position much throughout your career?
Michael Conway: I have always been a quarterback, but last year I broke my thumb in the summer and I had to tape it to the rest of my hand, so I couldn’t throw. I just tape it up and put a glove over it and played receiver for two games. This year, with my shoulder and all, they didn’t want to rush me into the first game, so I started off at quarterback, but then I went to receiver right away after the first quarter. Every once in awhile on a third and long at the beginning of the season, they put me at receiver and told me to go deep and get the ball.