Gophers tight end Maxx Williams wore an orange nonparticipation jersey again at Tuesday’s practice, as the football team continues to be cautious with his left knee.

Williams sprained his medial collateral ligament in the final minute of the Dec. 27 bowl loss to Syracuse. He rehabbed the injury and went through the team’s first four spring practices.

But he was also in an orange jersey March 13 before the team took a 12-day pause for spring break, so he’s been out for two weeks.

“We’ve got to get him healed up,” coach Jerry Kill said. “He’s a good player. I know what he can do, and we’re going to be cautious. He wasn’t full-tilt, had a little bit of a setback, so we’re not going to take [chances].”

Williams led the team in receiving last year as a redshirt freshman with 25 receptions for 417 yards and five touchdowns. Another tight end becoming a factor in the team’s passing game this spring is Nate Wozniak, a 6-9 redshirt freshman.

“Spring ball’s for people who need the repetitions,” Kill said. “I already know what Maxx can do. I need to see Big Wozniak keep doing [his thing]. You build depth in the spring.”

Dialing it back

The Gophers are scheduled to hold their annual spring game April 12 at TCF Bank Stadium, but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, it would be moved inside the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.

TCU coach Gary Patterson is among the college coaches who have skipped spring games altogether in recent years. This spring, Oklahoma State is hosting an “Orange Blitz” open practice, instead of its traditional “Orange-White” spring game.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of things change with college football,” Kill said. “I think they’re all getting ahead of the game. I think we’re all nervous about that because it’s not worth it. You go through 14 [spring] practices, and then all of a sudden, you get a player hurt. It’s just not worth it.”


• Junior college transfer Cody Poock worked with the first-team defense at linebacker along with Damien Wilson and De’Vondre Campbell.

• The Gophers are giving Nick Rallis reps at middle linebacker because they believe he has the football acumen to play all three linebacker spots.

• Wide receiver Donovahn Jones, who didn’t practice March 13 after being shaken up in the previous practice, was back at full speed Tuesday.

• Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun remains in a green noncontact jersey but took part in his first 11-on-11 drills of the spring. Boddy-Calhoun suffered a torn ACL in last season’s second game.

• Kill on NFL draft prospect Ra’Shede Hageman, who dropped by practice Tuesday: “Nothing makes you more proud. Ra’Shede and I go way back here, and to see how that man has handled himself right now is just tremendous.”