(AHA) alumnus Sahr Ngekia has begun his sophomore season as a tight end with the University of Minnesota football team and is looking forward to his second year as a member of the Golden Gophers.
Having played football for only three years total, the Liberian native and Lakeville resident earned a look from Minnesota after hauling in 16 receptions for 307 yards and one touchdown as a senior wide receiver at AHA in 2008.
He was then redshirted by the Gophers in 2009 after then-head coach Tim Brewster moved him from receiver to tight end.
Ngekia did not see game action as a freshman last year and is fighting for a regular playing time during his sophomore campaign. However, the journalism major remains an optimistic and helpful member of the U of M’s gridiron squad, now led by new head coach Jerry Kill.
Ngekia chatted with Patch after a long workout at TCF Bank Stadium, expounding on the team and his place within it:
Richfield Patch: How is practice going so far this year?
Sahr Ngekia: They are going very well. Everybody here is working very hard and is very enthusiastic about the season.
Richfield Patch: Where do you see yourself fitting in on this team?
Ngekia: I see myself working hard, fighting for playing time, trying to be a positive contributor and making everyone else better around me.
Richfield Patch: What are your thoughts on Coach Kill?
Ngekia: He is a great guy. He cares a lot about his players and he is making sure that we are “all-in” and make sure we work as hard as we can to make the team better so we can have a good and positive season.
Richfield Patch: What are some of the differences you’ve seen between the high school game and college?
Ngekia: Definitely the speed and, of course, the physicality. It is a lot more physical, especially at this higher level. For me, having played wide receiver in high school and tight end in college, it is a lot different—there’s a lot more “thud,” a lot more “bang.”
Richfield Patch: The Gophers are going up against some big time opponents this year, including the University of Southern California and Nebraska. Do you get a thrill out of playing the collegiate powers?
Ngekia: It’s definitely great. [Playing top teams] will definitely be a great test for us. How we do against those big-name rivals speaks a lot for the programs and how it has come along.
Richfield Patch: What are your hopes for the season, for the team and you personally?
Ngekia: For the team, I just hope we get to a bowl game. We need to work hard, keep winning and not have a repeat of last year (3-9 overall, 2-6 Big Ten Conference). A bowl game would be a very good success and a Big Ten championship would be a great success. Individually, I just want to be a great teammate and do whatever I can to help out.
Richfield Patch: What does it mean to you to be a part of the “hometown” team?
Ngekia: It’s great to be here because my family can come see the games and see me play. I’m not far from where I grew up and people I know are familiar with the program, it’s just a great feeling to be a part of this team.