Minnesota’s Trey Potts aims for redemption

Trey Potts is on a revenge tour this season. The Minnesota junior running back and Playmaker client survived a serious health scare last season, one that shortened his season and left him hospitalized. After a bright start to the 2022 season, Potts talks to Playmaker’s Nate Smith on returning to action, the bonds he formed with his teammates and coach, summer time in Minnesota, and more!

Nate Smith: You had great games against New Mexico State and Western Illinois, but most importantly, you were healthy and back on the field. So, how do you feel just playing again, with everything you’ve been through?

Tre Potts: I’m lucky to have a lot of support in my corner. You know, my teammates, family, coaches, and this University did a great job in supporting me. The doctors, everyone. When I was cleared to play football again, I was happy because, you know, I put in a lot of time and effort in the spring and offseason to get back to where I was without missing a beat. I literally cried tears coming out the tunnel. It felt so good to be back.

NS: It’s beautiful to see. I know after the game, Head coach PJ Fleck mentioned you in his press conference after the New Mexico State game and how you and fellow running back Mo Ibrahim persevered from injury. Knowing that the both of you went through the same thing, was there a conversation between the two of you as you guys were on the field?

TP: Me and Coach are super close, and me and Mo have been through a lot together. I look at him as a big brother and I look at Fleck as an extra father figure, you know, a person that will always be in your corner. He knows what I’ve been through and my journey to get to where I am today. So after we both scored, he pulled us aside and told us how much this meant to him and the team, and we could be a voice for those battling adversity. And we got game balls. I’m going to put that in the shrine one day.

NS: When you looked at Mo after the game, did you hit him with that Paul Rudd clip like, “Look at us. Who would’ve thought?”

TP: (laughs) 100%. I literally texted him that night, telling him, let’s make money this year. We got our feet wet so far, and we are not gonna stop there. That’s how it’s gotta be. 

Matt Krohn / USA Today Sports

NS: For sure. So, your running back room is crazy experienced. You’re in your fourth year. Mo is in his fifth or sixth year. You also have Bryson and Preston who have earned a few letters. How’s that experience help you out on the field this year?

TP: It’s gonna be crazy. The best thing about the four of us and our young guys are that we’re super close. We’re super connected. We love each other and bond on and off the field. It’s great to have. Everyone has their own flavor. So as long as things go well, we stay healthy, and using all of us at different times when our number is called, we are going to support the offense and things are going to be great.

NS: So, Fleck comes in – and I have this introduction with him from that video when he was still at Western Michigan. I know from the outside looking in, he seems like this crazy guy, but he gets results. What could you tell us about Fleck that the outside world wouldn’t know?

TP: I love PJ. I feel like a lot of people would think his ideas are crazy, but at the same time if you’re sitting in these meetings with him and hear what he’s saying, it makes a lot of sense. Row The Boat culture you know, you’re on the water and rowing, using your compass and keeping your energy consistent to lead you to success. You have to be on a crazy mindset to actually go somewhere and have a successful life. So I really respect him for not only giving me knowledge and helping me as a man and football player, but also for him keeping his head down and sticking with his vision no matter what anybody says. 

NS: Growing up, were there any running backs that you looked at that you admired?

TP: Being a PA guy, I loved watching LeSean McCoy and LT [LaDainian Tomlinson]. More recently, Ezekiel Elliot and Saquon Barkley, especially Saquon from watching him in high school. I take pieces from different types of backs, just because you know the game is ever changing. 

NS: I know you were recovering this spring, but was there anything you added to your game?

TP: The one thing I really worked on is definitely my ability to know when to make different types of cuts. If you’re gonna make a jump cut, a side step, things like that, making someone miss in small spaces as well as finishing a play. Just trying to mix things up a little bit. 

NS: Got a couple of short questions to ask you. What’s the best place to eat off campus?

TP: That’s difficult. I would say this place, called Osaka Hibachi. My boys will hit that every couple of weeks, the food is super good. It’s my favorite type of food.

NS: So, what’s your favorite thing to do that doesn’t involve football?

TP: The summertime is fun, shout out to my man Preston Jelen. He has a boat on Lake Minnetonka. So we will go here and there, go windsurfing. Also shout out to Coach Fleck, he’s got his lake house as well, and we will go a couple of times. Lake life is definitely peaceful. I get in arguments with Mo because I claim the East Coast cause I’m from PA, but he’s from Maryland so he says I’m Northeast (laughs). But I’m close enough to the water.

NS: You can rep the East Coast! Williamsport is weird because it’s not really Pittsburgh and Erie, so you’re not in the Rust Belt. But you can just hit the highway and be by water in a few hours. So which one of your teammates is most likely to have trouble with the water and may need help out there?

TP: Definitely Mo (laughs). How are you gonna claim the East Coast and you can’t even swim!

NS: (Laughs) Word! That’s funny, y’all literally take Row The Boat so seriously, that you’re actually rowing boats in the summer. I love it. How do you keep busy with all the NIL deals thrown your way and all the distractions that college football players face now?

TP: Honestly, I have a great support system of people around me, a close-knit group of friends and family that help me make decisions. They allow me to keep my mind on my goal with our team right now. We are connected and have a plan that we are on the road to accomplishing, so I just keep my head down and make sure I keep on top of my day-to-day goals, and on Saturday I go out and play my game. 

NS: So I know you have a shirt coming out soon, what can you say about it?

TP: So I liked the retro or vintage vibe, so all I can say is that we have this concert tour-type tee coming out soon. I think Minnesota fans are really going to like this one, so stay tuned!

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