EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The three Vikings who are Golden Gophers alumni said Wednesday they were sad to learn of the retirement of University of Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill but also glad that a man who often put others first made a difficult decision in the best interest of his personal health.
Kill made the announcement Wednesday morning that he was retiring immediately because of medical reasons.
Rookie Isaac Fruechte, who is on the practice squad this season after leading Gophers receivers in 2014, said Kill is a "great man and a father figure to a lot of people."
"Coach Kill is near and dear to my heart, so this is kind of tough for me," Fruechte said. "I know a lot of guys are having trouble with it, but it's something that you've got to take time and get healthy. Our thoughts and prayers are with him."
Fruechte, the son of a high school coach, said Kill reminded him of his father.
"I can't say enough great things about him He's done a lot for this program, for this state," Fruechte said. "The state of Minnesota should be jacked to have him and that staff here and they should be honored."
Brock Vereen, who began the season in Chicago and joined the Vikings practice squad earlier this month, played three seasons for Kill.
"It's unfortunate, but for someone who's spent his whole life doing everything for everyone around him, I guess I'm happy he gets to do what's best for him and am very thankful for everything he's given to the University."
Vereen said "selflessness" is one of Kill's most impressive attributes.
Punt return specialist and cornerback Marcus Sherels predated Kill's start at The U, but said "(Kill's) been great with alumni."
"It's obviously sad that we're losing a good coach and an even better man, but you know, with health issues, it can be scary," Sherels said. "We wish him nothing but the best, and I'm glad he's doing it for himself and his family."
Sherels' brother, Mike, coaches Gophers linebackers.
RELATED: Mike Zimmer said Kill is "an awful good football coach and he's got that football program going in the right way."