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Perham’s Richter recounts crazy day he committed to the Gophers for football

Perham offensive and defensive lineman Logan Richter looks forward to siuting up for the Minnesota Gophers in the future.David Samson/Forum News Service

Perham 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive and defensive lineman Logan Richter sat in the back row with his sister, mom and dad, as University of Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck spoke at TCF Bank Stadium.

It was Junior Day at the University of Minnesota late last March, a day where high school juniors are invited to meet coaches and tour the facilities and the school. It was the first of what the Richter family felt would be a long recruiting process. Richter had just decided a couple months previous he wanted to pursue collegiate football, and his dad had just started sending out a three-minute highlight video to schools.

The day had felt a bit weird for the Richter family. It seemed as though 300 or so other high school football players from around the country knew what they were doing, while they stood toward the back during everything. Logan noticed people looking at him, eyes widening at his size, and even gave an awkward laugh and a thank you to a coach who had said, “Wow. You look like a really good football player.”

“It’s probably because they didn’t know anything about Logan,” Logan’s dad, Rich, said.

We just don’t get a lot of exposure. If we lived in the Cities, there’s just more chances to be seen and that was our first Junior Day.”

Logan had no idea he was going to leave Minneapolis with a full scholarship to play football for the Gophers.

“I did not see that coming at all,” Richter said. “It was a very long day. Everything just clicked. It was really weird. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I got to thank everyone along the way for making it possible, my parents, my coaches. It’s a dream come true. None of us were expecting it.”

Honestly, Richter wished he was in Minneapolis to play in the Class 2A state basketball tournament that weekend, but his Yellowjackets had been upset a week previous in the section title game against Breckenridge. His first love was basketball, as posters of Kevin Durant have filled his room since a young age. His parents could not recall any toy of significance for him as a child, but he always had a ball.

Richter had come off a junior season in which he averaged around nine points and six rebounds a game, while proving he could hit a 3-pointer, shooting 32 percent. The chance to play college basketball was not out of the question for an athlete his size.

“Basketball was my sport because we were really good and we still are a good program,” Logan said.

After his freshman season ended at Perham, Logan was asked to play varsity. The first thing he did was call his mom.

“I just remember, ‘Mom, I get to dress for varsity tonight,’” Tammy said. “He was pretty excited.”

After his junior season, Perham coach Kyle Knutson pulled Logan aside and told him he had the ability to play college football. In 16 varsity games as a sophomore and junior, he had 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He asked him if that’s what he wanted. Logan said yes.

“The recruiting wasn’t aggressive at the time, but I wanted him to know that I saw the potential in him,” Knutson said. “I just was curious because some kids that’s not their plan and he loves the sport of basketball, so I didn’t want to pin him down. I just wanted to say he's got the potential.”

Junior Day had been a long day, as the Richters got to TCF Bank Stadium at 11 a.m. Fleck came out to speak at around 4:30 p.m. Tammy, Logan’s mother, was getting antsy because her 13-year-old son Levi and 15-year-old daughter Lacey were with her eldest daughter Leah and Leah’s husband at the Mall of America. Leah had her 5-month-old child with her, and Tammy felt bad, knowing Leah had a lot on her plate already with her little one.

As Fleck spoke, Gophers assistant coordinator of recruiting operations John Schaekel leaned back in his chair and asked if the Richters could stay after Fleck spoke. The family noticed the crowd was cut down to about 10 players. At 6:30 p.m., Logan took a tour of campus. A little after 7 p.m., Logan, his sister, his mom and his dad met with Fleck. They spoke about family, school, spirituality and football.

“I’d like to offer you a full-ride scholarship to play for the Gophers for 2018,” Fleck said.

So here was Logan, who had just decided he’d like to pursue playing college football, who by all means should have been playing in the state basketball tournament, getting an offer from his dream college to play football and go to college for free.

Logan had recently missed a Junior Day with North Dakota State, which he rescheduled for later, along with dates to visit the University of North Dakota and the University of Wyoming. Fleck was a new coach, who had three minutes of film on Logan.

“When he said that our jaws just dropped,” Logan said. “Wow. Is he really saying this? It’s just a moment I never will forget. It was so amazing. It was my first time talking to him ever. I will never forget that day. It was so amazing.”

The other Minnesota coaches had been listening in on the meeting from outside the door. Fleck walked out of the room and said, “We got a Golden Gopher.” The coaches cheered and the Richters cried. Tammy believes she said, “Oh my God” over and over, while Rich is pretty sure he said, “Hell yes.”

Tammy called Knutson immediately to tell him, as they drove to the Mall of America to have dinner with the rest of the family, who was unaware of what happened. They sat down and Leah asked how it went. Rich asked his daughter, a graduate of UND, how she would feel if her brother played for the Gophers. She said she’d be so happy. They told her, and more crying ensued.

More than nine hours after arriving at TCF Bank Stadium on March 25, Logan walked out a Gopher. Days before he had been talking to friends at Perham about how they’d still be paying for college at 40.

“I’m thankful for everything,” Richter said. “Life is good.”

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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