Darren Beenken was one of 50 prep football players invited to Junior Day at the UFarmington’s Darren Beenken was one of 50 juniors — and fewer than 10 quarterbacks — to attend the invitation-only University of Minnesota football Junior Day last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
Farmington’s Darren Beenken was one of 50 juniors — and fewer than 10 quarterbacks — to attend the invitation-only University of Minnesota football Junior Day last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Beenken and the rest of the group began the afternoon by listening to an introductory speech from head coach Jerry Kill. Beenken and the rest of the quarterbacks then met with Gophers quarterback coach Jim Zebrowski, who talked about the finer points of playing quarterback at the Division I level.
“I attended (Coach Z’s) quarterback camp this past summer and got to know him through that experience,” Beenken said. “He gave us a little lecture as well, defining his perception of what attributes a D-I quarterback needs to have in his arsenal.”
Beenken and the rest of the Junior Day participants then went on a tour of TCF Bank Stadium. They toured the Gopher Hall of Fame, where they got to see the national championship trophies, Heisman trophies and bowl game trophies before touring the locker room, training room, equipment room and the playing field.
“The locker room was amazing to see. It’s the biggest in-stadium locker room in the nation,” Beenken said. “Another exciting thing they had to show us was the new uniforms. They had mannequins set up in the equipment room showing the new jerseys and new helmets.”
But for Beenken, the best part of the tour was stepping out onto the playing field where the scoreboard was lit up, saying “Welcome to Junior Day.”
“Without a doubt, the most exhilarating part of the tour was walking through the tunnel and onto the field. At that point it felt surreal,” he said. “I was like ‘Mom, mom! Get my picture with this! Get my picture with that!’ I had jitters throughout the day and I was constantly trying not to show my excitement in such a way that would attract attention from the other players but when I got on that field, the only thing I cared about was embracing the moment.”
The juniors capped off the day by meeting with Gopher recruits. Beenken was also invited back to Spring Camp to shadow the current Gopher quarterbacks on the field and watch film with them.
“Walking out of the stadium I felt humbled to have been selected to take part in such a great deal,” Beenken said. “It gave me a glimpse of some exciting opportunities that are available to me following high school.”
Beenken will close out his junior season of basketball at Farmington before he begins working toward his third season under center for the Tiger football team this fall. He completed 110 of 210 passes for 1,265 yards and nine touchdowns last fall.
“I am very excited to play football with a group of guys that understands what it takes to be successful. We have the experience and without a doubt we have the talent to do great things this year,” he said. “This will be my third and final year of playing varsity football and it’s time to make some noise and go out with a bang.”