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Drew Wolitarsky gets motivation from within

Posted: August 5, 2014 10:40 p.m.
Updated: August 5, 2014 10:40 p.m.

Minnesota wide receiver and Canyon High graduate Drew Wolitarsky (82) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Syracuse during the Texas Bowl in December 2013, in Houston.

 

Drew Wolitarsky insists that it’s true.

He wasn’t driven by numbers at Canyon High.

Even if he ranks first in state history with 281 career receptions and 5,147 yards.

And he’s not driven by numbers at the University of Minnesota.

The sophomore wide receiver is just plain driven.

“I think he wants to be known as one of the best guys who’s played here. He knows the history and I think he sees he can be on the wall,” says Minnesota wide receiver coach Brian Anderson.

In the locker room of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, there are photos on the wall of past Golden Gopher greats.

“He knows what it takes. What those guys before him did worked their tail off and they’re on the wall,” Anderson says. “He sees himself in the same category. ‘I can be one of those guys.’”

Wolitarsky is very non-specific on what drives him.

He says he has a chip on his shoulder — a self-given chip on his shoulder.

There were doubters, he says. Mostly people, even going back to his Canyon High School days, who said he wouldn’t be fast enough to be a playmaker at the next level. This despite being the Foothill League 100-meter champion as a senior in 2013.

“To be honest with you, I’m a self-motivated guy,” Wolitarsky says. “I don’t need that crap to motivate me.”

So what does motivate him?

“I just want to be at the top and say I made it to the very best level,” Wolitarsky says. “I don’t like quitting or not being the best. We play Mario Kart, XBox, I want to win and be at the top.”

Good start at Minnesota.

Wolitarsky had no catches through Minnesota’s first four games as a true freshmen last year.

Entering Minnesota’s Dec. 27 Texas Bowl game against Syracuse, he had 11 catches.

In the Texas Bowl, Wolitarsky made four catches for 94 yards, including a 55-yard reception for his first career collegiate touchdown.

“I think he exceeded my expectations,” Anderson says. “You never know about freshmen, but the first thing you learn about him is he is a very level-headed kid. He likes to have fun. But between the white lines, it’s all business for him.”

Wolitarsky is poised for a breakthrough.

Anderson believes it, but so does a former teammate.

“The sky is the limit for him,” Chicago Bears rookie defensive back and former Golden Gopher teammate Brock Vereen told The Signal in December. “He will be a nationally known name by the end of his career.”

Anderson says that he noticed when Wolitarsky arrived that he already had a lot of polish.

His route-running and ability to make the routine and difficult catch were above that of many true freshmen.

Because of his size, 6 feet, 3 inches and 225 pounds, he is well suited for the physical Big Ten and defensive backs tend to misjudge him, thinking they can be physical at the line with him and if he gets around them they can catch up. But because of his speed, he has the ability to create a big play if he gets past that physicality at or near the line of scrimmage.

Where he also separates himself is his confidence level.

Those who know Wolitarsky know he is not low on it.

It’s a characteristic Anderson believes allows Wolitarsky to not be afraid to make a mistake, and if he does make a mistake, he can move on quickly from it.

And then there’s that desire thing.

“When he and I have one-on-one conversations, he has a passion about himself and football,” Anderson says. “From day one when I started to coach him, I noticed this kid has a passion about himself. He wants to be great. He wants to be a good football player. If he continues to show that passion, that will turn into more leadership and rub off on the younger guys.”

Anderson acknowledged that to speak about a sophomore as a leader is a rare thing, but he sees the trait in the Canyon High graduate.

It’s always been said about Wolitarsky — he’s been ahead of the game.

Remember, this is the same player who was a starting wide receiver for Canyon as a freshman.

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