Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad became just the second walk-on true freshman to start a season opener at a Power Five school last week in the Gophers’ season opener against New Mexico State.
He had a solid performance, too — finishing 16-of-33 for 220 yards and two touchdowns en route to the 40-10 win on Thursday.
The night before the game, though, the 18-year-old received a call. It was from reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall draft pick Baker Mayfield, who was the first true freshman walk-on quarterback to start at a Power Five school. Mayfield started for Texas Tech in its season opener against Southern Methodist in 2013. He transferred to Oklahoma following that season.
“He called and talked to Zack for about 15 to 20 minutes,’’ Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It was good for Zack to hear from him because people had mentioned him. Any time you can get advice from a guy who has been through what you’ve been through, it’s good.’’
Now, Annexstad isn’t a walk-on in the true sense of the word. He turned down scholarship offers to Illinois and Cincinnati, among others, to play for the Gophers — as the campus sits about 90 minutes from his hometown of Norseland, Minnesota.
But still, it’s an impressive feat.
After the call, Fleck said Annexstad was very calm, and then quickly went back to work.
“His exact words: ‘That was cool.’ And then he walked away,” Fleck told the Star Tribune. “That’s Zack … That’s what makes Zack really special. He appreciates those things.”
While Annexstad has a ways to go to follow in Mayfield’s footsteps, they did both walk away from their respective season openers with pretty dominant wins.
If nothing else, receiving a call from the reigning Heisman Trophy winner on the eve of your first collegiate game has to be an incredible way to kick off his first season with the Gophers.
“It was a good moment for [Annexstad] to start his career,’’ Fleck told the Star Tribune. “I’m very appreciative of Baker doing that.”
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Trump: ‘Nike is getting absolutely killed’
• Bizarre out sums up Nats’ disappointing season
• Dan Wetzel: One big reason NFL ratings are way down
• 5 NFL coaches already sitting on the hot seat