CHICAGO -- It was a newsy day for the Gophers here at Big Ten Media Days, as Coach Jerry Kill mentioned several items of note. A quick recap, as the team gets ready to start practicing Friday:
* TE Maxx Williams (knee) is back to full speed. In fact, quarterback Mitch Leidner said Williams and fellow tight end Duke Anyanwu have posted running speeds as quick as anybody on the team, including the wide receivers and defensive backs. Scary.
* Kill said incoming freshmen tight ends Gaelin Elmore and Jerry Gibson are both candidates to play immediately at the H-back position. Mike Henry played there last year at 5-11, 230 pounds. Elmore is 6-6, 260 pounds, and Gibson is 6-3, 230. They’ll probably start out at tight end – Gibson actually might line up at wide receiver – but the Gophers will look for ways to get them on the field, too.
* RB Donnell Kirkwood had surgery earlier this summer (not sure what the injury was) but is working his way back to full speed. “He hasn’t been the same, but he feels good now,” Kill said.
* DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun is fully recovered from his ACL injury. He looked terrific by the end of spring practice.
* DB Derrick Wells (shoulder surgery) missed spring practice but is back to 100 percent. “He may be as healthy as he’s been,” Kill said.
* WR Connor Krizancic has a hamstring injury. Kill said his status for the start of camp is uncertain.
* Melvin Holland Jr. is the most advanced of the incoming freshmen receivers, Leidner said.
* LB Cody Poock had surgery to repair a torn ACL in March, but believe it or not, Kill said the coaches are considering clearing him for practice. Kill said a decision will be made Thursday.
“If he can come in and do pass shell and non-contact, we’ll probably bring him in,” Kill said. “Is he going to be guaranteed to be ready to be able to play by the Big Ten schedule? I don’t know. I know that’s his goal. But if we get into that thing, and he’s not 100 percent, we will not play him, because he can get another year [of eligibility].”
* The Gophers gave offensive lineman Jon Christenson some time off recently, hoping to get him in good shape for the start of fall camp. Christenson, a starting center last year who is coming off a broken leg injury, could move to guard.
* Kill injured an hamstring doing up-downs (a conditioning drill) about 10 days ago and is walking with a limp. But as for his epilepsy, things sound great.
“I trained hard in the offseason, too,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of walking. I dropped about 12-13 pounds, quit drinking Coke and Diet Coke. I’m drinking water. All the things that can help bring on [seizure] situations, I’ve made sure I addressed.”