Antioch's Kaliakmanis brothers commit to Minnesota
This was always the plan.
Since they started playing football together about 10 years ago, brothers Athan and Dino Kaliakmanis dreamed of playing college football together.
And they will.
The Antioch sophomores -- Athan the quarterback and Dino the wide receiver -- announced on Twitter Wednesday that they have verbally committed to head coach P.J. Fleck and the University of Minnesota.
"We always knew we were going to play together," Athan said. "I love playing with him. He loves playing with me. I'm so glad we're going (to Minnesota) together."
The brothers were at Minnesota in Minneapolis and Saint Paul for a couple of days this week on an unofficial visit. Fleck had offered Athan a scholarship in January. When he and Dino visited a month later, Fleck offered Dino as well. After discussing their football futures, the brothers knew then that they had likely found their post-high school destination.
"He was the one that came up to me and was like, 'Dude, is this it?' " Athan said of Dino. "I was like, 'After this visit, we have only a few (more colleges) to see and we'll make our decision then.' But he knew. He knew where he wanted to go. Dino's a lot more observant."
"It just felt like home," Dino said. "The coaching staff was really good. It just felt right."
Athan was Carmel Catholic's starting varsity quarterback as a freshman in 2017. He and Dino, who always played varsity for Carmel that season, then transferred the Antioch for second semester. Before he took one snap for Antioch, Athan already had scholarship offers from Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Iowa, Iowa State and Central Michigan. He then went out and lived up to the hype, setting several school passing records, as Antioch went 11-1.
Athan threw for 2,083 yards and 25 touchdowns, completing 115 of 193 passes, in leading the Sequoits to the Class 6A state quarterfinals. He also rushed for 578 yards and 11 TDs.
Since the season ended, in addition to Minnesota, he had also picked up offers from Northern Illinois, Florida Atlantic, Western Michigan and, most recently, Tennessee. He's taken other unofficial visits to Iowa, Iowa State, Virginia Tech and NIU.
Dino, who had offers from Kansas and Toledo before posting 36 receptions for 594 yards (16.5 average) and 5 TDs last fall, also was offered by NIU and Florida Atlantic.
Under Fleck, a graduate of Kaneland and Northern Illinois, Minnesota went 5-7 in its first season under him in 2017. But the Golden Gophers beat Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26 to finish the season 7-6.
"I want to be a part of what Coach Fleck is building," said Athan (6-4, 192). "I feel like the program is on the uprise. I really like where it's heading. It felt like home. I felt very comfortable there, and I just love the culture. I love everything about it."
His brother feels the same way, especially about Fleck.
"He's very entertaining, and what I also really like about him is he's very inspirational," said Dino (6-1, 195). "The way he spoke, he made you believe."