In four seasons as a backup quarterback for the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team, Eden Prairie native Cole Kramer has appeared in 10 games, thrown just 14 passes with eight completions, rushed 195 yards on 44 carries, and scored two touchdowns.
Yet, is he nervous about starting his first game next Tuesday night, Dec. 26, in the Quick Lane Bowl against Bowling Green at Ford Field in Detroit?
“Just excited about the chance,” he said matter-of-factly following a Monday news conference.
Kramer, an all-state quarterback for Eden Prairie High School (EPHS), was offered an athletic scholarship to the University of Minnesota upon completing his high school career.
However, he was a perpetual second-stringer throughout his playing days until a few days after the season finale against Wisconsin. That’s when Athan Kaliakmanis, the starting quarterback for the 2023 season, announced his transfer from the Gopher program. Shortly after that, Drew Viotto, a freshman third-string quarterback, also declared his intention to enter the transfer portal.
This made Kramer the no-brainier selection to start the game for Minnesota.
Head coach P.J. Fleck has publicly stated his and the coaching staff’s confidence in Kramer, noting that his extensive time in the program has given him a thorough understanding of the system and schemes.
Bowling Green upset the Gophers in their 2021 game in Minneapolis. However, as of Dec. 19, Minnesota is a 3.5-point favorite when the two teams meet in Detroit the evening after Christmas.
“It will be more than just Cole representing Eden Prairie,” his father, Steve, said. “Bronson Warner, who played with Cole in high school, is a lineman for Bowling Green.”
For Kramer, an All-Academic Big Ten selection, the approach is to stay calm.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” said standout Gopher wide receiver Daniel Jackson.
Rumors began circulating last week that Dinkytown Athletes, Minnesota’s NIL collective, had offered Kramer up to $30,000 to play in the bowl game. Dinkytown Athletes is an organization that facilitates name, image, and likeness deals for University of Minnesota athletes, allowing them to monetarily benefit from their personal brand while adhering to NCAA rules.
”I wish that was true, but it’s not,” Kramer said at the Monday press conference.
Kramer has already earned his bachelor’s degree in business and recently completed his graduate studies. Although he has one year of football eligibility left, he has chosen not to return to the field. He is getting married this February in Arizona and is currently seeking employment.
He comes from a long bloodline of Gopher star athletes. His maternal grandfather, Tom Moe, played football and baseball for the University of Minnesota in the 1950s and served as the interim athletic director in the late 1990s. His cousin, Carter Coughlin, a former EPHS football star and Gopher linebacker, plays for the New York Giants in the NFL.
Mike Grant, the longtime EPHS football coach, said he is “super excited” for Kramer.
“He’s just a terrific kid, talented, poised, and I am sure will do well in the game,” Grant said. “I think it says a lot about him that he has stuck it out for four years.”
His parents, Steve and Jackie, still live in Eden Prairie. Together with his fiancée Katie Miller and brother Cade, they will be in Detroit for the game on Dec. 26, which will be Kramer’s swan song as a football player.
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