He’s still a year away from joining the Gopher Football team, but cornerback Richard Agyekum from the Netherlands is ready to make his way to Minnesota.
Agyekum is one of two recruits in the Gopher’s 2020 class from overseas. Melle Kreuder, a defensive end from Germany, is the other. But despite playing in the same German football league, they’ve never met. Having someone in the same situation will help his transition to the United States after he graduates from Christelijke Scholengemeenschap Buitenveldert (CSB) High School in Amsterdam, Agyekum said.
“I think that’s going to be something very special to me, something very important,” said Agyekum. “To have somebody who understands me coming all the way from Europe is going to be something great.”
Agyekum only began playing football when he was 13 and didn’t play in his first real game until he was 14. A teacher in his middle school was looking to start a team.
“He kind of forced me into playing American Football,” Agyekum said with a laugh. “After a few practices, after my first match, I fell in love with the game.”
Despite playing for the Dutch national team, he makes a six-hour round trip two or three times a week to play for the Cologne Crocodiles who play in the German League. Agyekum however, is ready to compete at a higher level.
“The level of football is so different in the states than here and that’s what I’m really excited about,” Agyekum said. “It just hypes me up the way they play football in the states because it’s so much more exciting and it goes so fast.”
Minnesota's cornerbacks coach Rod Chance was the one who noticed the Dutch defensive back. Agyekum was at a satellite camp with PPI Recruits at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
“After the camp he just came to me and talked to me and said he liked the way that I competed, the way I went through my drills and he wanted me to come to the Minnesota camp and also compete there,” Agyekum said.
Agyekum committed to the Gophers shortly after he went to the camp at the University of Minnesota.
“After I went to the Minnesota camp and saw it with my own eyes and talked to Coach Fleck about the culture, Row the Boat and everything that’s behind it, that’s what really attracted me, the culture.”
Standing at 5-foot-9 and 155-pounds, Agyekum said the Gophers want him to add weight before he makes his way to the program. The plan is to have him gain 20-pounds this year and 20 more his freshman year. He’d be nearly same size of a certain Cleveland Browns cornerback whom Agyekum models his game after.
“I’m actually trying to be like Denzel Ward because his rookie year in the NFL was just so amazing," said Agyekum. "He did a lot of great things and that’s how I want to become.”
Agyekum’s family already has plans of making the trip to Minnesota to watch his first game, but he knows being away from his family will be the hardest transition for him.
“Family is going to be a hard thing, because I’m really close with my family,” he said. “My brothers and sisters and just leaving them behind for that long of a time will be a hard thing.”
Despite being so far away from his family and friends, there is one thing of which Agyekum is sure.
“I’m really excited to start playing for Minnesota because I just want to get better, I want to be a part of the great culture they’re building up,” he said.