Former Gophers football coach Glen Mason will have a great interest in the NFL playoffs, with no fewer than nine of his Minnesota players on postseason rosters.
They include wide receiver Logan Payne, whom the Seahawks promoted this past week from the practice squad; running back Marion Barber III with the Cowboys, tight end Matt Spaeth and running back Gary Russell with the Steelers, defensive end Greg White with the Buccaneers, tight end Ben Utecht and defensive tackle Darrell Reid with the Colts, running back Laurence Maroney with the Patriots and defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery with the Redskins.
Several of the former Gophers have made significant contributions to their team's playoff push. Barber had a career high in rushing with 975 yards and finished tied for fifth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 10, down from 14 last season. Russell was on the Steelers practice squad most of the season until, after Willie Parker's leg injury, he moved up to be the No. 2 running back. His teammate, Spaeth, finished with five receptions for 34 yards and three scores.
White finished with 26 tackles, 8.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles, second in the NFL. Utecht had 31 receptions for 364 yards and one touchdown for the defending Super Bowl champions, while teammate Reid had 31 tackles and made some key defensive plays.
Maroney rushed for 835 yards and six touchdowns. Montgomery wound up with 42 tackles and a season high of six against the Patriots.Brewster to Texas
Nolan Brewster, the son of Gophers football coach Tim Brewster and the outstanding safety who has committed to Texas, said he will not change his mind and follow his brother, quarterback Clint, to Minnesota.
"He's been a Longhorn fan for a long time," Tim Brewster told Rivals.com while in San Antonio to watch his son play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a high school all-star game. "I coached at Texas for four years and Nolan really has a very strong appreciation for the university and the state of Texas. He's made a decision to be a Longhorn for that reason."
Nolan, a top-100 ranked player, said it was a tough decision.
"With my dad having a tough season and the defense struggling, he wanted me up there pretty bad. I just always wanted to go to Texas and he knew that, but he wanted me at Minnesota. It was tough, it was real tough to tell him no. He just wants what's best for me."
Well, if you want my opinion, it's a long time until the Feb. 6 signing date. Nolan could still change his mind.No mystery
A year ago the Celtics posted a 24-58 record with Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair on the roster.
All five came to the Timberwolves in the deal for Kevin Garnett. The Celtics already had Paul Pierce, one of the best players in the league. This year the Celtics are 27-3, matching the best 30-game start in the shot-clock era.
So you wonder if there is any mystery why the Wolves are struggling, with Jefferson, Green, Gomes and Telfair a good part of their nucleus. Ratliff missed most of last season with the Celtics and he has played only six games for the Wolves because of a bad knee.
Comparing points and minutes in this season and last year, Telfair is averaging 9.9 points and 32.4 minutes per game this year after averaging 6.1 points and 20.2 minutes a year ago. Jefferson is averaging 20.6 points and and 36.5 minutes this season, compared to 16 points in 33.6 minutes last season. Gomes is down from last year, averaging 10 points in 25.4 minutes this season compared to 12.1 points in 31.2 minutes last year. Green is down from 10.4 points in 22 minutes per game last season to 4.9 points in 12 minutes this year.
These young players didn't know how to win with the Celtics, and they have to gain more experience before they will win here.Jottings
Gophers baseball coach John Anderson will receive a much deserved honor when he is inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame today. He is a great teacher and coach.
Twins General Manager Bill Smith said he hadn't talked to the Red Sox or the Yankees about a trade for pitcher Johan Santana for two weeks. Smith also reported that pitchers Francisco Liriano, Jesse Crain and Glen Perkins, who were sidelined last year because of various injuries, continue to rehabilitate and will be 100 percent by the time spring training opens. ... Padres center fielder Mike Cameron is available as a free agent, and Smith got a call from his agent Thursday. However, at this point, the Twins don't have any interest in adding any outfielders. ... Twins President Dave St. Peter reports that 40 of the 55 executive boxes in the new stadium have been sold.
Former Gophers offensive line coach Gordy Shaw has a good chance to wind up on the staff of Kevin Sumlin, a former Gophers assistant and the new head coach at Houston. Shaw also has interviewed for a spot on the Colorado State staff, and he is very interested in the St. Thomas head coaching job. He would be a perfect fit for that Tommies position, with his great recruiting ability.
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, naturally, is opposed to an expected NFL rules change that would penalize a punter for kicking out of bounds: "I think it's a dumb rule, because the thing is, is that if you try and kick it out of bounds, it's hard enough to do as it is," he said. "You run the risk of hitting it short or of kicking it down the middle to the [return] guy and causing a problem with the coverage."
Ralph Sampson III, the Gophers recruit from the Northview Titans in Duluth, Ga., continued his great play. He had 21 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocked shots in a 59-53 loss to Dobyns-Bennett (Kingsport, Tenn.) on Saturday in the Arby's Classic in Bristol, Tenn.
Former Gophers basketball player Quincy Lewis deserves credit for establishing a scholarship at the University of Minnesota.
The Gophers have decided to have FieldTurf installed in the new football stadium. Ohio State, Michigan and the NFL's Patriots and Giants have FieldTurf. ... Casey Borer, a Brooklyn Park native who played four years of college hockey for St. Cloud State, got called up Tuesday by the Carolina Hurricanes and played his first NHL game Wednesday.
Former Gophers guard Vincent Grier is averaging 12.8 points and 29.7 minutes per game for BCM Gravelines in the French National Basketball League and is leading his team in scoring.