Get to Know Cole Kramer, Minnesota’s Quick Lane Bowl QB1

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PJ Fleck and his Golden Gopher football program, with a record of 5-7, are preparing to make their second appearance in six years at the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, MI where they will square off against the Bowling Green Falcons on December 26th at 1 PM CST.

5th year senior Cole Kramer — who according to PJ Fleck is supposed to be living in Arizona right now, planning his wedding and getting on with his after-football life — will make his first career start as a college quarterback.

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Kramer has seen very little action this season. He has more rushing yards (3) and attempts (2) than he does passes (1) or passing yards (0). His only recorded throw of the season… was an interception.

Why is Cole Kramer starting for the Minnesota Gophers?

Until just a couple of weeks ago, the Gophers starting quarterback was redshirt sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis, who entered the transfer portal following Minnesota’s season finale loss vs Wisconsin.

According to reports, Athan started to sour on PJ Fleck’s program after the head coach chewed him out in front of “others” at Purdue. Weeks later, when the coaching staff wouldn’t promise Kaliakmanis bowl game QB1, he hopped in the portal.

Minnesota has already found their QB for 2024 and they have a young stud prospect committed for the future. But on December 26, the Gophers will trust in Cole Kramer, who’s stuck with his hometown program for a half decade, even as other 3-star quarterbacks were climbed ahead of him on the depth chart.

Cole Kramer at Eden Prairie High School

Kramer Enrolled at the University of Minnesota in January 2019, after completing his senior year at Eden Prairie High School early. Earlier that fall, Kramer threw for 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning 2018 Star Tribune All-Metro Second Team and KARE 11 All-Metro team honors.

Related: Minnesota Gophers Football Transfer Portal Tracker 2023

After leading Eden Prairie to a Minnesota class 6A state championship as a junior the year before, Kramer and the Eagles fell one win short of a repeat in 2018, losing to Lakeville North in the state title game.

In his high school career at Eden Prairie, Kramer started three years, where he totaled around 4,000 yards, 50 touchdowns and an unknown number of interceptions. For whatever reason, Kramer’s 2018 stats are a bit elusive to find.

We know he went his entire sophomore and junior seasons without throwing an INT. But that streak quickly ended when he threw his first career high school pick in week one of his senior season vs Eastview.

Kramer turns into a Wildcat Gopher

Coming out of high school, Kramer was a three-star recruit and the no. 27 ranked 2019 dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports composite. He ranked as the No. 3 2019 football recruit in Minnesota, according to Rivals and ESPN.

As a Gopher, Kramer has mostly been limited to Wildcat QB duties, a position that got him on the field for 8 games in 2021 (63 snaps), 8 games in 2022 (39 snaps) and just 2 games (6 snaps) in 2023. His most memorable pass came in 2021 @ Iowa when the perfect Wildcat play call happened at the perfect time (4th and 2).

I’d expect a very heavy Darius Taylor + Cole Kramer read option offense later this month vs Bowling Green. It’s the offense he operated in high school and, as a Wildcat QB, an extremely run-heavy play-call sheet with mostly read-option and play-action passing plays available.

Can Kramer help and lead the Gophers to a 7th straight bowl win and help PJ Fleck stay undefeated in Gopher bowl games? We’ll soon find out…

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