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U football assistant DeLattiboudere has his ‘Tonight Show’ moment

In his 15 months as a Gophers football assistant coach, Winston DeLattiboudere III has worn several hats — defensive line coach, newcomers coordinator and, as of January, assistant head coach. He added a new one in March — contestant on the game show "Password" during an episode of "The Tonight Show" that featured Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel as opponents.

It all started when DeLattiboudere's wife, Shelby, commented on a social media post, and that led to NBC personnel reaching out to her.

"She was asked if she knew any coaches; she's married to a coach," DeLattiboudere said Monday. "So, all of a sudden, she tells me, 'Hey, I need you to be on this Zoom, and you're going to be playing Password against these people.' "

He was skeptical at first.

"I thought it was a scam the whole entire time," he said. "I'm like, 'This is a scam, but my wife asked me to do it. I don't want to argue with her right now, so I'm just going to keep on going.' The first round turned into the second round turned into the third round, and all of a sudden, I'm getting an email, 'Hey, don't tell anyone, but you're going to be on "Password." ' "

DeLattiboudere had to tell one person — Gophers coach P.J. Fleck, who kept the information on the down low. Soon, DeLattiboudere was flying to Los Angeles for his 15 minutes of late-night fame.

"It was an awesome experience overall," he said.

DeLattiboudere quickly changed his focus from Password to pass rush once he returned to spring practice. His aim: build on the improvement that saw the Gophers go from 19 sacks in 2022 to 26 last year, including a 9.5-sack improvement from the defensive line.

"One thing that we talked about a lot was pass rush conditioning," he said. "That's something that's looked over a lot by not only defensive line coaches but coaches in general. How many reps, how many moves, how many things can you stack in a two-minute drill or in a time where you know sacks will be able to eliminate an offense from being able to drive the football?"

Depth on the back end

Nick Monroe coaches cornerbacks for the Gophers, and during spring practice last year, something was missing: cornerbacks.

"The room has doubled," Monroe said. "There's bodies out there now. There's competitive depth. Last year during the spring game, we were flipping guys back and forth between the Maroon team and the Gold team. It's a totally different tone right now, and it's a lot more fun."

One of those added bodies is Ethan Robinson, a transfer from Bucknell who has one year of eligibility remaining. Robinson, 6-0 and 180 pounds, played in 31 games over the past three seasons, collecting 154 tackles, breaking up 25 passes and intercepting five passes. That experience is welcome in a secondary that lost a productive corner in Tre'Von Jones.

"The guy is professional in every way," Monroe said. "He's a winner. He's a playmaker."

Looking toward the future

One of the biggest holes for the Gophers to fill on defense will be at safety, where Tyler Nubin is off to the NFL. One player who might help fill the void is Koi Perich, the four-star incoming freshman from Esko who will join the program in June.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but we're going to do everything we can to prepare him as best we can that when we kick off on Saturday, everybody has to be ready," safeties coach Danny Collins said.