Gophers’ top-rated football rookie put ‘scary’ health behind him

“Whoa, what is this?” “ Bixby wondered.

The Gophers’ top-rated football rookie in the 2022 class decided to fight – “pain is a state of mind,” he said – but it got worse. During a workout, he recalls, his throat started to close.

“It was scary,” said Kyle Goblirsch, Bixby’s stepfather.

After several doctor visits, Bixby was diagnosed with hives, an allergic skin condition. Her treatment included monthly injections and strong allergy medications. “Claritin times 10,” Goblirsch said.

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The treatments have made Bixby autoimmune, and with the pandemic, Kyle and Trey’s mother Heidi Bixby-Goblirsch has prevented Trey from attending in-person classes at the private school outside of Cleveland, which means that he was not eligible to play football his junior season.

Kyle, from Prior Lake, and Trey moved to Minnesota, and Trey enrolled at Eden Prairie for his senior year. His condition was improving over the past summer, and with nearly a calendar year without physical activity, he was cleared by medics to play for the Eagles in 2021.

After a stellar second season in 2019, the Gophers offered Bixby a scholarship in 2020, and the 16-year-old – then 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds – jumped at the chance to play for the program he was for. grew and became U’s First Commitment to Class of 2022.

Through Bixby’s health issues, the Gophers honored their scholarship offer. With a four-star designation, he is the U’s highest rated rookie in this class. He and his future teammates can sign national letters of intent starting Wednesday morning.

In the year of inactivity, Bixby went down to 6-5, but his weight dropped to 195 pounds, and when he made his official visit to Minnesota in June, he would stop his meds and weigh up to 212 lbs. It’s still not a weight worthy of a top defensive line hopeful, which the U penciled in to play 5 techniques or 3 tackle techniques.

“I was still looking pretty much for skin and bones,” Bixby said.

Gobrilish said he kept U staff up to date on Bixby’s health issues. “Their big problem was trying to figure out what was going on at every step,” he said.

During the official visit, Gobrilish sat down with PJ Fleck and he remembered the head coach saying, “’We are here to support you. We will stick with you. “

The Gophers have always supported scholarship offers to enlist when injuries have occurred after enlistment, but Gobrilish was a Gophers recruiting analyst for seven years at 247sports, so he knows scholarships are sometimes withdrawn by some. programs.

“I am not naive,” Gobrilish said. “I have it covered. I know if he can come back and what that might mean. This, hopefully, from their point of view made it easier where, “You don’t need to sugarcoat anything with me.” “

Gobrilish said Bixby’s diagnosis did not come quickly, with trips to the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic made more difficult with COVID-19 restrictions.

“Then it became mental health management, make sure we don’t spiral up,” Gobrilish said. “For him it was, ‘What am I if I’m not a football player?’ It was tough for a 16 year old kid who just signed up and you think you’re ready. He’s had a great sophomore year, and the next thing you know, it’s all on hold. “

An aggravating factor in his condition is the way he has limited his ability to sweat. His body temperature skyrocketed, forcing him to take more showers or put an ice pack on his body. He was wearing Under Armor cooling gear to help make up for it.

“There was the fear of the unknown,” Bixby said. “It was, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to lead a normal life again or if I’m going to be able to walk a block or two.’ “

Gobrilish relied on Fleck’s ‘Row The Boat’ mantra to get Bixby to keep an oar in the water and keep moving forward.

“It was extremely difficult,” Bixby said. “I have reached one of the lowest mentally points that I have ever seen. It was hard to keep rowing and get over that, but I finally got there. I’m just glad I got to do it.

Bixby was cleared to play in Eden Praire’s third game of the season, against eventual Class 6A state champion Lakeville South. Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant started the year with little expectation of Bixby playing this season, so this development has been a boost.

Bixby was back to 240 pounds, but it wasn’t as much muscle as he would have liked. He had only had four practices before his debut, and in the game he made a few tackles. But he curled up and injured his ankle in the first half, sidelining him and in a protective boot for weeks.

“I realized that I would be fine… I would be able to overcome that; I had been through something that was 10 times worse, ”Bixby said.

The injury, however, did not keep him away from the Eagles.

“He was very committed to our team and was at every practice and helping the coaches when he couldn’t train,” Grant said. “He was the biggest cheerleader on the sidelines. He didn’t have an investment in Eden Prairie, it wasn’t like he grew up with us. He couldn’t have been a better young man, so I can certainly understand why Minnesota offered him.

Bixby returned later in the season, but was not a routine three-way player. He started playing more like his old self in the playoff game against Farmington, contributing a few tackles for lost yards and forcing a fumble to help seal the victory.

Grant had watched his St. Edwards movie in second grade and knew what kind of player he could be. Bixby’s biological father, Christopher Moore, attended St. Thomas Academy and played the defensive end at Duke in the mid-2000s.

“(Trey) was a beast, a big, physical kid,” Grant said. “… I know he’s got all the size, reach and technique. When he is in good health, he will become a great football player.

Bixby has had no symptoms for months, without medication since last summer, and has changed his diet.

Bixby loves Thanksgiving, but he started a meal plan the day before. “I tried to temper it (with food) and it didn’t budge,” Gobrilish said. “He stayed on his diet and I was like, ‘Wow, you really mean it. “”

Part of the reason Bixby returned to Minnesota was to graduate in late 2021, which would not have been possible in the Ohio system. But he won’t be enrolling at U in January and instead will focus on rebuilding his body (somewhere in the 240-260 pound range) and join the program with the rest of the real freshmen in June. .

“It will be a big relief, obviously,” Bixby said of the signing day. “I’ve been waiting for him for a while, and it’s good to know he’s finally around the corner.”

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