Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
The Gophers added another football commitment Monday after a key recruiting weekend, as Jaylen Waters, a linebacker from Texas, announced his plans to play for Minnesota.
Waters is a consensus two-star linebacker from Copperas Cove High School, the alma mater of former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
The 6-2, 233-pound Waters is Minnesota's ninth commitment for the 2015 class, and the second linebacker, joining Julian Huff, from Bolingbrook, Ill.
Waters attended camp at TCF Bank Stadium this weekend, along with the Gophers' annual recruiting barbecue. On Saturday, the Gophers got commitments from Canadian running back Jonathan Femi-Cole and Michigan safety Ray Buford.
Waters, who also had offers from Nevada and Texas State, announced his decision on Twitter:
Excited to say that the University of Minnesota will be my new home in 2015 & where I will further my education. Golden Gopher Commit ����✏️��— Jaylen Waters (@Texas_boy49) July 21, 2014
The Gophers knew this would be a key recruiting weekend, with a camp at TCF Bank Stadium followed by their annual barbecue, and Saturday they landed two three-star commitments.
Rivals.com ranks the 5-11, 218-pound Femi-Cole as the 47th best running back in the 2015 class. The Gophers recruited him while they were in Canada pursuing defensive lineman Julien Kafo, who signed in February and will be a freshman this fall.
Rivals.com ranks the 6-0, 190-pound Buford as the No. 43 athlete [position not determined] in the 2015 class. He had reported offers from Boston College and Western Michigan among others.
Gophers recruiting coordinator Billy Glasscock didn't mention names, but signaled the program's excitement Saturday night on Twitter:
The Gophers now have eight commitments for their 2015 class.
While the Gophers continue waiting and hoping running back recruit Jeff Jones can become academically eligible this summer, they know for certain another member of their 2014 recruiting class didn't make it.
Ra'Shaun Croney, a defensive back from Pahokee, Fla., hit a snag, trying to meet his academic requirements. The consensus three-star recruit also had offers from South Carolina and Arkansas and committed to Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College at one point.
The Gophers made him a late addition to their 2014 class on March 31, knowing they were taking a chance. They are loaded with defensive backs for this fall and plan to use Croney's scholarship on an additional defensive back for the 2015 class.
Cretin-Derham Hall defensive end Jashon Cornell had his pick of the nation’s top college football programs as one of the country’s highest rated recruits in the 2015 class.
On Wednesday morning, Cornell announced his choice: Ohio State.
Cornell and Justin Hilliard, a linebacker from Cincinnati, timed their announcements together on ESPN.com -- and both picked the Buckeyes.
It was reminiscent to November, when Tyus Jones of Apple Valley and Jahlil Okafor, of Chicago, announced simultaneously that they’d be playing basketball for Duke.
“I think it was my relationship with [Buckeyes defensive line coach] Larry Johnson, and my auntie lives 30 minutes from their stadium,” Cornell said. “I have family down there, so I don’t have to worry about getting homesick.”
Heading into this announcement, Cornell had said his five finalists were Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Iowa. The Gophers made a strong push but realized months ago that Cornell wouldn't be staying home.
Cornell said the Gophers "were actually number six on my list. The reason they weren’t in my top [five] is because when I was coming to the last couple weeks of my decision, they didn’t recruit me like they were. They were originally in my Top 5, and Iowa just stepped in because they had me call them a couple times.”
Last year at this time, ESPN.com had Cornell ranked as the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the 2015 class. Cornell has since slipped to No. 16 on that list, and Hilliard is ranked No. 15. Rivals.com has Cornell ranked 76th in the nation, with Hilliard ranked 49th.
The 6-3, 260-pound Cornell joined a list of other highly ranked Cretin-Derham Hall football players to leave the state for college over the years, including Seantrel Henderson (Miami), James Onwualu (Notre Dame), Michael Floyd (Notre Dame), Rafael Eubanks (Iowa) and Matt Carufel (Notre Dame).
The Gophers landed a quarterback they've been coveting Monday night, when Demry Croft, from Rockford (Ill.) Boylan Catholic, gave them a verbal commitment.
Croft is a 6-5, 190-pound dual-threat quarterback who impressed Gophers coaches at a camp this past month. A consensus three-star recruit, Croft has a big frame, a good arm and plenty of athleticism. Northern Illinois is among the other schools that have offered him a scholarship.
Croft tweeted the news (@Princeofthe66): "I have decided to further my education at the University of Minnesota [class of] 2015."
Without mentioning a name, Gophers recruiting director Billy Glasscock tweeted his own excitement (@BillyGlasscock4): "Big time news tonight for Gopher Football! Golden Ticket!!"
Croft is the sixth player to commit to the Gophers for the 2015 class.
Here's a look at Croft's junior tape on Hudl.com:
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