Chad Fahning, a 6-foot-7, 275-pound senior tackle from Minneapolis (MN) DeLaSalle, will be a preferred walk-on for the Gophers next fall. Fahning was named to the Minnesota Associated Press All-State high school football team and helped lead the Islanders to a 10-1 mark as they scored 45.6 points per game in its first ten contests. Unfortunately, the Islanders were upset by Becker 21-14 in the Class AAAA quarterfinal, one game short of making to the Metrodome.
GopherHole.com caught up with Fahning recently to learn the latest on his decision to become a Golden Gopher.
Gopher Hole: It has been about a couple of weeks since Signing Day. How do you feel about your decision to commit to Minnesota as a preferred walk-on?
Chad Fahning: I feel very, very excited. I’m excited to put on the Maroon and Gold and get to work this summer. I am very anxious to become part of the Gopher family.
Gopher Hole: Was that a weight off your shoulders once you were able to make the decision that you know where you are going to be next year?
Chad Fahning: Yes. It is a huge weight and I feel a lot lighter now that I made the decision that I did and that I am very content with and very happy with.
Gopher Hole: I know that when we talked during the season, you were up to eight scholarship offers. How many did you end up with?
Chad Fahning: I think eleven or so.
Gopher Hole: I think you had offers from Western Michigan, Montana State, Eastern Michigan, Columbia, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Northern Iowa, and South Dakota State. Do you remember anyone else?
Chad Fahning: Cornell and South Dakota.
Gopher Hole: Was it tough to turn those opportunities down for a scholarship to be a walk-on or was Minnesota where you really wanted to be?
Chad Fahning: Minnesota was where I wanted to be, but walking away is never easy. I felt pretty confident in my decision that I hope to earn a scholarship after a couple of years.
Gopher Hole: Obviously, they have several lineman like Caleb Bak and Jon Christenson, who were preferred walk-ons who saw significant playing time this past season. Does that give you even more hope that if you do the right things and work hard, that that could be you down the road.
Chad Fahning: Oh, yes very much so. It was slightly coincidental that the day that I took that from Coach Limegrover and Coach Kill and I committed as a walk-on, I didn’t know about it, but it was the same day that they gave a scholarship to Caleb Bak and Jon Christenson.
Gopher Hole: That has to make you feel even better, right?
Chad Fahning: Oh, definitely. It is very, very comforting to know that the possibility and opportunity is there for both earning a scholarship and then eventually playing time. Coach Kill, particularly, on my official visit, stressed that he will have the best players play. He is not hesitant to start a non-scholarship player over a scholarship player, if they are better, which was very good to hear.
Gopher Hole: A lot of the lineman that Minnesota has are homegrown kids. Does that appeal to you as well?
Chad Fahning: I have always grown up being a Gopher. My family has always been rocking Maroon and Gold. My family has had basketball season tickets for like 27 years for the Gophers, so being part of something is very special to me being a hometown kid for a team that I have watched and cheered for.
Gopher Hole: Your mother passed away recently. When was that?
Chad Fahning: She passed away April 3rd, so like ten months ago.
Gopher Hole: That has been tough for you I’m sure as a kid. Did you feel her looking down on you on Signing Day knowing that she had to be very proud of you?
Chad Fahning: Yes. Her big thing was that she always wanted me to be happy and achieve my goals and my goal for a long time was to play college football, especially in the Big Ten and preferably for my home school and my state. To do that was very special.
Gopher Hole: Was that something that you had in the back of your mind to try to live up to her memory by going to Minnesota or a Big Ten caliber school?
Chad Fahning: Oh, yes. Not only her, but what Midwestern kid doesn’t grow up wanting to play in the Big Ten? It is something that you really aspire to do. You play football in your backyard or your driveway and you pretend to be Minnesota versus Wisconsin or Minnesota versus Iowa. You pretend that you are playing those rivalry games and it is exciting to know that I will have the opportunity to do that some day.
Gopher Hole: What things are you going to be working on now that you have made the decision to get ready for your freshman year?
Chad Fahning: I am working on getting bigger, faster and stronger because it is Big Ten play, so I am working on that full-time now.
Gopher Hole: Have they talked to you about what they would like you to get up to before your freshman year?
Chad Fahning: Not before my freshman year, not necessarily. They usually do by the end of your redshirt year. They would like you to be up to 290.
Gopher Hole: You have to feel that you have the frame that you can put on some more weight.
Chad Fahning: Yes. It is a benefit. I am diabetic, though. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes two years ago and when I was diagnosed, I lost like 25 or 30 pounds, so gaining weight is not necessarily a challenge, but it is harder in the sense that you gain just good weight. You gain muscle. You can’t gain fat, because you can’t eat those kind of foods. Gaining weight is a challenge, but it is a good thing that you are gaining mostly muscle.
Gopher Hole: Is that something that you have to play close attention to diet-wise?
Chad Fahning: It is kind of funny. My diabetic doctor and I have talked and I told her that I needed to gain weight and she said that she was surprised because most of her patients are trying to lose weight, not put on healthy weight.
Gopher Hole: You used to play basketball earlier in your career, didn’t you?
Chad Fahning: Until my sophomore year when Reid Travis became the center. It is tough to compete with that.
Gopher Hole: I saw you at one of the recent games at Blake and you have to be pretty pleased with how well they are doing, ranked #1 in Class AAA.
Chad Fahning: Oh, yes. They are fun to watch. There are some great athletes on that team. Coach Thorson is a heck of a coach and he is a fantastic guy, so I can’t applaud them more.
Gopher Hole: Is it tough to not be part of the team watching how well they are playing or do you realize that football is your sport and you want to get ready for college?
Chad Fahning: I do my part. I still go to the games. I kind of run the “Islander Nation” Super Fans and I contribute in my way, but at one point, you have to realize that football is where I am going to make my name, if I can.
Gopher Hole: I know that when we talked before you had mentioned that Political Science might be your major. Have you thought more about that?
Chad Fahning: I will be a Political Science major at the “U,” which is a great match. They have a very, very impressive Political Science department, so it will be a good way to get a great education.
Gopher Hole: Have you thought much about what you would like to do with the degree or is it still far away?
Chad Fahning: Not particularly. My understanding is that you can go into pre-law or Political Theory, which is something that I am particularly interested in.