Matt Leidner, a senior center from Lakeville South, will join current redshirt freshman and older brother Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner as a preferred walk-on. He committed to Minnesota Tuesday night .
Matt Leidner, a senior center from Lakeville South, will join current redshirt freshman and older brother Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner as a preferred walk-on. He committed to Minnesota Tuesday night and caught up with Gopher Hole to talk about his decision.
Gopher Hole: What was the main reason that you decided that Minnesota was where you wanted to be?
Matt Leidner: A big part of it was my brother playing there and the biggest part is I want to play Big Ten football. I think that I can do it. I know that I can do it. It is just going to take some time. I have to put in my effort and I know that I will come through as a top player, I feel like.
Gopher Hole: What schools were you down to when you decided to commit to Minnesota?
Matt Leidner: I was looking at North Dakota State and Augustana, which is Division II.
Gopher Hole: Had you been to either of those places yet?
Matt Leidner: Yes. I went to both of them.
Gopher Hole: Did you have an offer from Augustana?
Matt Leidner: Yes, it was pretty close to a full ride.
Gopher Hole: What about NDSU?
Matt Leidner: It was one earlier, but then some guy committed and it was gone.
Gopher Hole: How big of a factor was it your brother being at Minnesota?
Matt Leidner: Not too often do two brothers get to play with each other in the Big Ten. If I get to snap to him someday, that would just be crazy. He pushes me so hard. He helps me with all my workouts and stuff. He is such a good role model in my life and I just want to be playing with him for the next four or five years.
Gopher Hole: What was the reaction of your family and friends?
Matt Leidner: I felt that they all, especially my parents, knew that I was just going to go there. I had such a better vibe when I went to Minnesota and talked to Coach Kill. I was so much more happier. I knew that I wanted to do it in the first place. My friends just knew that it was just the best decision for me and if I get that opportunity, I just have to take it.
Gopher Hole: Did you know for awhile that you were going to Minnesota or had you just decided this week?
Matt Leidner: I stayed up pretty late some nights last week and I finally came to the conclusion that I have a chance to get a good education and I can be close to home and be close to my brother, so I decided Monday night that I was for sure going to go there.
Gopher Hole: It makes it a lot easier for your parents to be able to see both of you play rather than if you had gone someplace else and they would have had to split time?
Matt Leidner: That was definitely a big part of it. My parents are obsessed with all Gopher athletics and they always have been. They are probably just as happy as I am, if not more than I am.
Gopher Hole: What things are you going to be working until summer time to continue to improve yourself as a player?
Matt Leidner: Mitch shows me what to do. He shows me what they do for workouts and I just try to imitate those and do them to the best of my abilities, but I definitely have to work on getting my speed up, because Coach Kill said that I have to be technician if I want to play because I don’t have a big body and I don’t have a lot of leverage outside, so I have to be right there every time. Just keep putting some weight on. I weight like 285 right now, so I am getting there, so I just have to keep working at it. I am strong, but I am definitely getting stronger right now.
Gopher Hole: You are 6-foot-1 ½. Is that one thing that when schools looked at you they might think that you are a little bit small as an offensive lineman in terms of your height?
Matt Leidner: Yes. Probably every Division I school that talked to. To be honest, I think that if I were 6-4 or 6-5, I’d probably be committed to like some Division I school, but unfortunately, height is a big factor with all the schools.
Gopher Hole: It would be nice to be taller, but do you think that gives you a little bit of a chip on your shoulder to maybe work harder to prove some people wrong?
Matt Leidner: Oh, for sure. It means everything now. They might have guys that are 6-5 on the team, but I know that I am going to outplay them. I am going to outwork them. That is the kind of person that I am. I know that I can do it and I will do it. I put in my time already. I was not a good football player as an eighth or ninth grader and I really stepped up, but I know that I can keep going.
Gopher Hole: Are they looking to you as just a center or would you also be a snapper?
Matt Leidner: They actually asked me about doing short-snapping on field goals because they need a guy with some bigger hips on the inside, but punt-snapping-wise, I don’t think that they will ever put me there. It is some way to get on the field, especially during my early years, so I am happy about that. I took over the short snapping on field goals (at Lakeville South) and we had another kid who was really good at long snapping, so he did that and that worked out good.
Gopher Hole: So, you are pretty familiar with short snapping already, so that maybe gives you a little bit of an edge, right?
Matt Leidner: Yes. I have been practicing every day after Coach Kill told me that I could possibly be playing there.
Gopher Hole: You talked a little bit about it, but what would it would be like to be snapping to your brother in a Big Ten game?
Matt Leidner: It is my number one goal for the next five years. There is nothing that I want more than to play with my brother against another Big Ten team. It doesn’t even matter. I want to be out there playing with him and I want to block for him and hopefully lead him into the end zone a few times. We’ll see what happens, but I am going to work my butt off until I get there.