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.
Gophers linebacker Cody Poock has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, a person familiar with his injury said Monday.
The team was finalizing the diagnosis, with Coach Jerry Kill expected to address the injury with the media after Tuesday’s practice.
Poock suffered the injury at Saturday's practice. On Sunday, he posted on his Twitter page (@codyallenpoock), “Everything happens for a reason.”
It’s a tough blow for the Gophers, as Poock had been playing with the first-team defense, alongside linebackers Damien Wilson and De’Vondre Campbell.
Poock is expected to have surgery soon, and his ability to return this fall will depend on how he heals. Last year, Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan suffered a torn ACL injury in spring practice. He had surgery March 28 and was back playing again for the Wolverines on Oct. 12.
Gophers cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun tore his ACL in the season’s second game last year (Sept. 7 at New Mexico State) and he already has seen time in 11-on-11 drills this spring.
Poock still has three years of eligibility remaining after transferring from Iowa Western Community College. He had the grades to play Division I coming out of Spirit Lake High School last year but didn’t get the offers he wanted, so he went the junior college route.
He made 80 tackles for an 11-1 Iowa Western team and picked Minnesota over TCU. This spring, he quickly emerged as the leading candidate to replace departing senior Aaron Hill at strong-side linebacker.
Nick Rallis, a redshirt sophomore from Edina, filled in for Poock with the first-team defense for the rest of Saturday’s practice. The Gophers have been pleased with Ray Dixon’s play with the second-team defense, making him another candidate to replace Poock.
With Wilson entrenched at middle-linebacker for one more year, it’s also possible the Gophers could move his backup, Jack Lynn, to an outside spot this fall.
Caught up with Gophers coach Jerry Kill in his office today. Some quick notes:
* Spring practice will start on March 4, with the spring game on April 12. That’s much earlier than last year, as the team waited to start until March 26 with the spring game on April 27. This year, the team will hold two weeks of camp before spring break (March 17-21) and three weeks after the break.
* Players scheduled for offseason surgery include: CB Derrick Wells (shoulder), WR KJ Maye (groin), T Jonah Pirsig (hand), TE Alex Bisch (ankle), FB Tyler Hartman (shoulder).
CB Briean-Boddy Calhoun (knee surgery) will be ready for spring practice, but the Gophers plan to be careful with him. C Jon Christenson (broken leg) is doing well with his rehab but won’t participate in spring practice. C Matt Leidner (quarterback Mitch Leidner’s younger brother) has a foot injury but should be ready for spring practice.
* Two players from the 2014 recruiting class are scheduled to begin classes this month, allowing them to compete in spring practice: LB Cody Poock (a transfer from Iowa Western Community College) and QB Dimonic McKinzy from Kansas City (Mo.) Wyandotte High School.
The Gophers were holding their breath after tight end Maxx Williams suffered a knee injury in the final minute of Friday's loss to Syracuse in the Texas Bowl.
Williams limped to the bus after the game, and the team feared the worst. But Coach Jerry Kill said Sunday on his weekly WCCO (AM-830) appearance that Williams' injury won't require surgery.
"We certainly didn't want to lose that kid during [spring practice]," Kill told Sid Hartman and Dave Mona. "We found out it's not great but not as bad as it was. It won't require surgery. So that started my new year right. We're excited that it wasn't as bad as we thought originally."
Little clarity on quarterback competition
The Texas Bowl appeared to throw the quarterback competition wide open for next season between Philip Nelson, Mitch Leidner and, perhaps, Chris Streveler, who redshirted this season. Kill tiptoed around that question on Sunday, however.
"It’s one of those things that I’m not really going to say a whole lot about," Kill said. "All that will work out. … I think time will take care of all that, and we’ve got a lot of things that we need to work on. We went through those things [at Northern Illinois] with Chandler [Harnish] and Jordan [Lynch]. And Chandler, a kid that played for me at Northern had been through some times, and we had to do different things his first year as a sophomore and so forth ... so it all works out."
Gophers coach Jerry Kill addressed the media after tonight's practice. Here's a quick update on quarterback Philip Nelson, who left the Michigan State game on Nov. 30 after getting his bell rung. Nelson is fine. He has been full-go in all the team's practices since the Michigan State game.
Gophers wide receiver Derrick Engel underwent surgery this week to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and announced on Twitter that the surgery was a success.
Engel, a senior from Chaska, leads the Gophers with 25 receptions for 401 yards and five touchdowns. He suffered the injury in practice on Nov. 17, six days before the Wisconsin game.
The injury ended Engel's college career. He had walked on with the Gophers after transferring from Winona State and was put on scholarship this year.
On Tuesday, Engel tweeted (@D_Engel18): "Surgery was a success. Definitely more pain than I was expecting on day 1 tho. I thought this nerve block would be a lil stronger haha."
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