Kaliakmanis Bros; Other Gopher Commits Face Tough Decisions After Illinois Postpones Fall Sports

Rob Dicker / News-Sun

Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker has decided to postpone the fall high school sports season, to the spring. This has a number of repercussions for some top football players in the state, including some Minnesota Gopher football commits. Pritzer sites an unsafe environment, among other things, for his decision…

“These are incredibly important moments in the lives of our children,” Pritzker said. “When the multi-billion-dollar sports leagues with multi-million-dollar athletes are struggling to protect their players it is obvious there won’t be enough protection for kids on our school’s playing fields.

The NBA has resorted to containing its players in a bubble to press on with its season. MLB is facing down a major outbreak. This virus is unrelenting and it spreads so easy that no amount of restrictions seems to keep it off the playing field.” – J. B. Pritzker

via the Chicago Sun-Times

Many high school athletes have spring sports they want to compete in, already… so now they have to choose between their favorite spring or fall sports? Fewer high school athletes (usually higher caliber kids), won’t be in high school anymore, for a spring season because they choose to graduate early and take off for college. That allows them to enroll months earlier (for spring semester).

I don’t know how many Gopher commits that rings true for, but some seem very adamant about playing in the fall. According to Alex Kaliakmanis, who lives in Antioch IL and whose sons (Athan and Dino) are both committed to Minnesota, his lions are being caged up with this decision from the Governor of Illinois.

Scholarships Aren’t Everything

But Kaliakmanis, whose sons Athan and Dino are committed to the Minnesota Gophers in the class of 2021, has no intentions of his kids playing in the spring. Now, people on the outside looking in, like this Twitter user, may question the elder Kaliakmanis’ decision.

“Scholarships and Money aren’t everything”, like Alex responded. Seniors have waited all their lives for a senior high school football season… for that one last hurrah… for one last dance. 

The Gophers have a lot to lose in Illinois

Look at Jameson Geers, for example. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end committed to the Gophers on January 30 of this year over Purdue, Iowa and Wisconsin just to make a few. He is also from Illinois, where he plays at Providence Catholic. And his reaction after he heard the governor’s announcement says it all. 

In addition to the Kaliakmanis twins and Geers, the Gophers football program also has three other class of 2021 commits from the state of Illinois: running back Mar’Keise Irving, offensive tackle Cameron James, and defensive end Austin Booker. So far, none of those three players has released any information on what their plans are for the football season. 

But Athan and Dino — actually their dad — has. He wants to move them to a state where they will be able to play fall sports. So what options do the Kaliakmanis brothers or others have if they do, indeed, decide to take their talents out-of-state. 


Going to Minnesota would be a really good option for Athan and Dino. Not only would it allow them to live where they will be spending the next four years of their lives, it would also allow them to get to know both the state of Minnesota and the Twin Cities more. They would also possibly have access to PJ Fleck and the campus, which would help them more easily make the transition from high school to college. 

Where they would play though is the real question. They could decide to spend it at powerhouse Eden Prairie, which was recently named the best high school football program in Minnesota.

Another option could be to play for the SMB Wolfpack. The Wolfpack will not have star QB Jalen Suggs or WR Terry Lockett this year, which opens the door for Athan and Dino to step right into their roles. 

But another great option would be to attend Shakopee. 2021 Gophers commit Deven Eastern is enrolled there, which would allow the two brothers to play with one of their future Gophers football teammates. Obviously all of this depends on what the governor and MSHSL decide to do regarding their plans for football this coming fall. 


A less likely option for Athan and Dino would be to play in Iowa. Since Iowa currently plans on having a fall football season, the Kaliakmanis twins could still get a regular fall football season in and not have to play in the spring. A downside to playing in Iowa that it is three hours from Antioch, IL (their hometown) to Dubuque, IA (one of the closest cities in Iowa). But this would still be a decent option.


Wisconsin is probably the most likely option. As of now, the state of Wisconsin is still planning to have a fall football season, although games wouldn’t start until the 24th or 25th of September. Additionally, the regular season will only be six weeks and the postseason three weeks. 

For these reasons, and the fact that Antioch is less than 10 minutes away from the border, Wisconsin seems like a very plausible option.

Other Options

Other options would be playing in Florida, Arizona, or Texas. These states all have Minnesota signed players; Austin Booker (FL), Steven Ortiz (AZ), and Brady Boyd (TX). This would be a great option if the Kaliakmanis’ want to team up with a future Gopher.

Overall, this is up to each family. A spring football season would not be the same as a fall season, but neither would going to an out-of-state school. So it brings up the question: will the lions stay caged or be released into the wild?

Carson Ruen

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