Frank Minnifield packed up and left but wasn’t gone for long

During the University of Louisville’s most recent graduation ceremonies, President Jim Ramsey paused to recognize a former U of L football player from the early eighties.

At 5-foot-10, 140 pounds, he was considered by many schools to be too small for college football. But then UofL coach Vince Gibson was impressed with his speed, giving him a shot as a walk-on in 1979. 

He was Frank Minnifield,  and the odds were heavily stacked against him.

“At one point he wondered if it was worth it – he packed his bags and headed home,” said Ramsey.  “But, he stopped his car before he got home to think about his future.  As he reflected in his car on the side of the road, he realized the importance of continuing his education, so he turned his car around and returned to school at UofL.  The rest is history – a great history.”

Minnifield would go on to become team captain, lead the team in kickoff returns in  1981 with a 30.4 yard average and 15 yards per punt return.  He would be signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Browns where he would enjoy a nine-year career as a cornerback and make four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

After football, Minnifield would start a construction company in Lexington. Today, he runs Minnifield Enterprize, which is a purchasing agent for multiple Toyota manufacturing plants and makes parts for a Toyota supplier.

He has served as a member of the U of L Board of Trustees for five years, and last year was elected to Chairman of the Board.
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Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.