MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s no position more important than quarterback, and so there’s no improvement more important to the Gophers than that of Mitch Leidner this spring.

He’s ahead of schedule after having foot surgery following last season, expects to be fully cleared by doctors in about two weeks and has made a major commitment to getting better.

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On and off the field.

Leidner has been limited to no-contact drills in spring practice, but he doesn’t feel like it’s held him back.

“I think I’ve been doing really well with it,” he said. “It’s allowed me to really step back and be able to observe the game, and I can still see all the coverages and guys rotating in the secondary and what the d-line’s doing up front, and still go through all my checks and reads and progressions, so all that stuff’s been good for me. And then I just get another mental rep of it when I go up and watch film.”

Coach Tracy Claeys has noticed.

“Very pleased with how hard he’s (working),” Claeys said. “He’s been a professional. When he’s not in classes, he’s been up here studying film… And the kid puts a lot of work into it.”

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That work has continued off the field. Leidner said he’s lost 16 pounds since surgery by eating healthier, smaller portion sizes at meals.

“I feel really comfortable at this weight,” he said. “And I think I can get to a pretty comfortable speed that I can run at.”

This is how committed Leidner is to getting better this fall: In order to lose all that weight, he basically gave up his favorite food. That’s no small thing.

“I occasionally, during the season, would like to go over to Manning’s over in Como and get their five dollar burger and fries on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so I kind of cut that out all winter,” Leidner said. “I know Helen over there is probably mad at me.”

But if it means a better Leidner, Gopher fans sure won’t be.

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“I’m feeling really good,” he said, “and it’s helped me out in my recovery process, I’d say.”