Another positive factor for Jerry Kill — now that the Gophers football coach had his contract extended through 2018 and the University of Minnesota administration showed confidence in him by raising his salary from $1.2 million in 2013 to $2.1 million in 2014 — is that recruits know he will be around for a while.
The deal also reassures members of the current squad that Kill will be coaching them.
Kill is excited about the opportunity to coach several young players who redshirted last year. One he likes to talk about is running back Berkley Edwards of Novi, Mich., whose father, Stan, and brother, Braylon, played for Michigan and in the NFL. He has four years of eligibility remaining.
Kill said the offense needs improvement and that Edwards is one of the players who could make that happen.
“Well, I don’t think there is any question that Berkley Edwards on the offensive side will really, really help us,” Kill said. “He’s got a lot of athletic ability. We can use him a lot of ways. He’s going to be a really, really good player.
“It allows us to have somebody in there [who] can line up at tailback. He can line up in the slot. He can line up a lot of places. I think there’s no question he has a chance to make our offense a lot better. I don’t think there is any question about that. If I was taking one guy that can specifically really make a difference, Berkley would be the one.
“I’d say he’s between 190 and 195 [pounds], about the size of Chad Spann that we had at Northern Illinois. He’s just phenomenally quick.”
Kill said he believes it is important to improve the offense, and Edwards is one of the new players who will help.
“If we can improve on offense, which I know we’re going to, that will allow us to continue to grow the program in the right direction,” Kill said. “Because we’re playing pretty good defense. We just need to take the next step offensively.”
U puck future bright
I mentioned to Gophers men’s hockey coach Don Lucia that he had a very young squad and asked if that means a bright future for the team.
“We have a chance to be real good again next year,” Lucia said. “We have to wait and see what happens come the end of the year. You never know. I don’t really anticipate anybody will leave at the end of this year but we’re just going to enjoy the year we have and then sit down with the kids after the season and see what their plans are.”
Lucia was asked if there have been any talks with the NHL and NCAA about changing the rules about kids leaving college programs after one year to turn pro.
“No, that’s not going to happen,” Lucia said. “The only window we had was with the last collective bargaining agreement. That’s been done, so there’s nothing that can be talked about doing until the next CBA, and I think that’s another seven-year contract. So you know what, it’s just working with the NHL teams and trying to work together.”
• It’s amazing to look at Timberwolves history and see that Kevin Love had the franchise’s 31st triple-double Saturday night. Of those 31, Kevin Garnett has 19 of them and no other player has more than two.
The Wolves went more than five years without a triple-double until Garnett’s first one in January 1998, and after he left, they didn’t have another one for five years until J.J. Barea did it at Oklahoma City two years ago.
• If former Vikings star Sidney Rice, who is expected to be released by Seattle because of salary cap issues, can pass a physical, you would think the Vikings, who are short of receivers, would be interested in signing him.
Rice signed with the Seahawks three years ago but played in only eight games last season because of injuries. During his three years with Seattle, Rice caught 97 passes for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns.
• Former Gophers forward Rodney Williams continues to put up respectable stats for the Delaware 87ers in the NBA D-League. In 20 games, Williams is averaging 10 points and 2.7 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game. Williams is also shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 79.7 percent from the free-throw line. … Williams’ former Gophers teammate Trevor Mbakwe is also playing well for Virtus RM in the Italian Serie A League. The forward is averaging 9.3 points on 58.8 percent shooting to go along with 10 rebounds per game. Mbakwe is second in the league in rebounding.
• After starting the season 1-9, former Gophers men’s basketball coach Dan Monson has his Long Beach State 49ers in the Big West Conference race after defeating UC Davis 79-57 on Thursday. The 49ers are 8-4 in conference play and in third place.
• Former Gophers quarterback Adam Weber, who spent time with Denver and parts of another season with Tampa Bay, is working out daily at the University of Minnesota hoping to catch on with somebody. I know former Vikings coach Brad Childress thought Weber had a pro future when he watched Weber with the Gophers.
• Former Twins pitcher John Verhoeven is in his first season as pitching coach for Azusa Pacific. Verhoeven was the head coach at Biola for 16 seasons.
• Baseball America released their Top 100 Prospects for the 2014 season and four Twins made the list. They are outfielder Byron Buxton [first], third baseman Miguel Sano [sixth], pitcher Alex Meyer [45th] and pitcher Kohl Stewart [52nd].
• ESPN.com recently released a list of who they believe were the best recruiters in the nation in college football for the Class of 2014. At No. 6 was former Gophers head coach Tim Brewster. Brewster recruited three ESPN 300 recruits for Florida State, including Dalvin Cook, the No. 21 overall prospect and third-highest-rated running back in the nation.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.