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Randy Johnson

Producer | Puck Drop
Phone: 612-673-7664
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Randy Johnson is the producer of Puck Drop for the Star Tribune. He previously was the beat writer for University of Minnesota football and hockey, along with other college sports.


Johnson also spent 17 years as sports copy editor/layout editor at the Star Tribune after five years in a similar role with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. From 1991 through 1995, he was assistant sports editor and Penn State football beat writer for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.
Recent content from Randy Johnson
Minnesota Whitecaps co-head coach Ronda Engelhardt spoke to players during an early practice. The team won the NWHL title, but there are questions abo

Whitecaps founder: Boycott endangers U.S. women's pro league

Minnesota Whitecaps founder Jack Brodt's comments came after more than 200 players vowed not to play next season unless a financially stable league is established
Minnesota Whitecaps celebrated Lee Stecklein's game-winning overtime goal that gave the Minnesota Whitecaps the NWHL title in March.

Whitecaps, Olympians won't play women's pro hockey until demands met

More than 200 women's hockey players, including members of the Minnesota Whitecaps and gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. Olympic team, say they won't play in any North American league until demands are met.
Goaltender Hunter Shepard helped lead Minnesota Duluth past Notre Dame for last year’s NCAA championship in St. Paul. Now Shepard and the Bulldogs a

UMD's goalie brings 10-0 postseason run into Frozen Four semifinal

Hunter Shepard's route to Minnesota Duluth didn't follow a direct path after being named the top high school goalie in the state five years ago.
Defenseman Jackson LaCombe is one of the standouts for Shattuck-St. Mary's top-ranked boys' prep team. The Gophers recruit entered the national tourna

Shattuck-St. Mary's hockey teams take aim at national titles

The Faribault boarding school's boys' and girls' prep teams are ranked No. 1 and are favorites to win USA Hockey Tier I national titles. They are a combined 83-10-7.
Brothers Jack (3), Nick (center) and Ryan (11) Poehling have combined for 24 goals and 42 assists for St. Cloud State.

Poehling brothers give St. Cloud State a line to rely on

The three brothers have been together on the same line since a teammate went down with an injury for the Huskies, who have the top seed in the NCAA men's hockey field.
Minnesota State Mankato's Marc Michaelis, a junior from Germany, has 19 goals and 22 assists this season.

Minnesota trio of No. 1 seeds aims for Frozen Four

A quick look at St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State Mankato.
Coach Scott Sandelin's UMD team is one of three from Minnesota that has earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's hockey field.

UMD wins NCHC Frozen Faceoff in double overtime over St. Cloud State

Nick Swaney scored on 2-on-1 rush 7:29 into the second overtime, giving the Bulldogs a 3-2 victory.
St. Cloud State leading scorer Patrick Newell.

Minnesota rules: St. Cloud State, UMD, Mankato land No. 1 hockey seeds

For the first time since the formation of a 16-team NCAA men's hockey field in 2003, Minnesota — or any state for that matter — has three No. 1 seeds.
St. Cloud State forward Robby Jackson scored in the second period

St. Cloud State beats Colorado College 5-2 in NCHC semifinals

Patrick Newell and Nolan Walker scored goals 24 seconds apart in the first period for St. Cloud State, which advanced to Saturday night's championship game

Minnesota Duluth's big third period breaks stalemate with Denver in NCHC semifinal

Hunter Shepard made 25 saves in a 3-0 shutout.
St. Cloud State’s Easton Brodzinski (26) and teammates celebrated a goal at last year’s NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

No. 1 St. Cloud State ready for rugged NCHC tournament

St. Cloud State headlines league tournament that has three of the NCAA's top five teams.
The Gophers were excited last weekend. They still are. “There’s a buzz in the air,” forward Brannon McManus said.

Gophers are 2 wins from NCAA berth (and 1 loss from being done)

Minnesota is 7-1 in its past eight games going into Big Ten semifinal vs. Irish.
The St. Cloud State team bus got stuck in a drift in Watonwan County on Sunday.

St. Cloud State hockey team stranded, sheriff offers jail for shelter

The Huskies' bus got stuck on a road near St. James, where the sheriff gave them shelter and food -- and would have put them up in the county jail, if needed.
The Gophers return home this week for the first time since their Feb. 1-2 split with Michigan.

Gophers hockey will try again to build on success after repreated stumbles

Bob Motzko has seen it all season. His Gophers men's hockey team puts together a solid, consistent, successful weekend. Then it regresses.
Ohio State forward Tanner Laczynski celebrated a goal at the NCAA Frozen Four in St. Paul last April.

Ohio St. dominates Big Ten men's hockey; U and others scramble

The Gophers, swept last week at Penn State, and the rest of the conference are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament.
Gophers goalie Steve Janaszak makes a save against Bowling Green on March 19, 1979, as defenseman Mike Greeder (28) swoops in to help.

'79 Gopher hockey champs will gather to remember 'golden time,' Herb Brooks

Herb Brooks coached the third title team in a six-year span, and players will gather Saturday for a reunion.
Notre Dame running back Dexter Williams, left, celebrates a touchdown with Micah Dew-Treadway, center, and quarterback Ian Book during the second half

Fleck gets transfer from Notre Dame, but loses defensive tackle Smith

When P.J. Fleck assembled his 2019 recruiting class during December's early signing period, he left left wiggle room to delve into college football's growing transfer market.
Jahmile Addae coached at Arizona before coming to Minnesota.

Gophers lose defensive backs coach Addae to West Virginia

Jahmile Addae will return to the school for which he was a four-year starter and three-time All-Big East defensive back from 2001-05.
Kirk Ciarrocca came to the Gophers with head coach P.J. Fleck.

Gophers offensive coordinator Ciarrocca staying in Minnesota

The offense made big strides from 2017, the first year under coach P.J. Fleck and Kirk Ciarrocca, who is known for his work with quarterbacks.
Kirk Ciarrocca, the Gophers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, is being pursued by West Virginia for a position on its coaching staff, b

U offensive coordinator Ciarrocca being pursued by West Virginia

Kirk Ciarrocca has coached under P.J. Fleck since 2013 at Western Michigan. Also, defensive line coach Marcus West is leaving to join the coaching staff at Charlotte in Conference USA.
Coach P.J. Fleck and the Gophers hoisted the Quick Lane Bowl champions trophy after stomping Georgia Tech 34-10 in Detroit on Wednesday.

Ibrahim, Johnson help Gophers crush Georgia Tech in Quick Lane Bowl

Mohamed Ibrahim -- the game MVP -- rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns and Tyler Johnson caught two touchdown passes in one of Minnesota's most dominant performances of the season.
Gophers starting linebacker Kamal Martin (21, shown in a game earlier this season against Northwestern) did not make the trip to the Quick Lane Bowl a

Gophers LB Martin suspended, doesn't make trip to Detroit

Kamal Martin, a junior from Burnsville, was a mainstay in the starting lineup and was the team's fourth-leading tackler during the regular season with 59.
Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck has a slew of talented freshmen, especially on offense, including (from left) wide receiver Demetrius Douglas, quart

Gophers view Quick Lane Bowl berth as a gift

It's not 'just' the Quick Lane Bowl for coach P.J. Fleck and his roster full of freshmen.
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall handed off to running back Jerry Howard last month. Marshall has run for 896 yards this year, Howard 561.

Gophers' biggest bowl challenge: Georgia Tech's triple-threat attack

The run-heavy approach features quarterback sweeps, pitches to a trio of running backs, motion and misdirection. "When you get a triple-option team, everything changes," P.J. Fleck said.
Gophers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, seen talking with the media after a practice.

Time in D-III helped prep Rossi to be Gophers defensive coordinator

Rossi embraces the path he took from Division III to the Big Ten, he says, because "when you're there, you have to do everything."
A 6-6 record got Gophers coach P.J. Fleck a bowl game and extra practice time. But how much value does that provide a college football program?

How much of an edge will the Gophers get by making it to a bowl?

North Score: Michael Rand and Gophers beat reporter Randy Johnson debate and discuss the possible added value to the Gophers program by its presence in Wednesday's Quick Lane Bowl.
Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck announced the team's 2019 signing class on Wednesday.

Next stop for Fleck: College football's new 'free-agent market'

Coach P.J. Fleck talked about the new national database that lets athletes submit their names and desire to transfer, allowing coaches from other schools to contact them.
Gophers quarterbacks Zack Annexstad, left, and Tanner Morgan will compete with each other and two newcomers for the starting job next fall.

Gophers' starting quarterback job could be a four-way race next season

When the Gophers open the 2019 season against South Dakota State, either Tanner Morgan or Zack Annexstad will start, right? Not so fast, coach P.J. Fleck said.
From left: Jason Williamson, Owatonna running back going to the Gophers; Bryce Benhart, Lakeville North offensive lineman heading to Nebraska; Quinn C

Fleck's recruiting hits Top 40 chart again. Will it bring football gold to U?

The Gophers' incoming recruiting class is ranked 33rd in the nation, hitting the top 40 for the second straight year. College football writer Randy Johnson explains what it means, and reminds you who was coaching last time that happened.
P.J. Fleck

U regents approve Fleck extension, under contract through 2023

In his second year with the Gophers, P.J. Fleck guided the team to a 6-6 record including a victory over Wisconsin and an invitation to the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit.
Coach P.J. Fleck (above) and athletic director Mark Coyle did not return messages Tuesday seeking comment about players who have been disciplined.

Several U players disciplined, face possible bowl game suspension

At least six Gophers football players have been disciplined and have not been allowed to practice recently in preparation for the Quick Lane Bowl.
Blake Cashman was the Gophers’ top defensive player this season.

Cashman will skip Gophers' bowl game to prepare for NFL draft

Senior linebacker Blake Cashman, the team's leading tackler, announced on Twitter that he won't play in the Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl.
Second-year coach P.J. Fleck has a chance to lead the Gophers to a winning season in their return to the Quick Lane Bowl.

'It's the next right step.' Gophers face Georgia Tech in Quick Lane Bowl

The Gophers will face a unique challenge on defense and a coach who will be on the sidelines for the final time as their reward for making a bowl game in P.J. Fleck's second season.
TaQuon Marshall, one of the signal-callers in Georgia Tech’s two-quarterback attack, has accounted for more than 1,700 yards of offense and 11 touch

About Georgia Tech, Gophers' opponent in Quick Lane Bowl

The Yellow Jackets won their opener before losing three games in a row. But they won six of their next seven games to secure bowl eligibility before losing their regular-season finale, 45-21 at Georgia.
After 15 years the Gophers took back the Paul Bunyan Axe after they defeated Wisconsin 37-15 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

The Axe is back: Gophers end long losing streak to Wisconsin

With Saturday's 37-15 victory by the bowl-eligible Gophers, Paul Bunyan's Axe is going back to Minneapolis for the first time since 2003.

Rossi earns job as Gophers full-time defensive coordinator

Joe Rossi was named interim defensive coordinator after Fleck fired Robb Smith following the 55-31 loss at Illinois on Nov. 3, and the defense responded.
“It’s not very difficult to tell our players a little bit about this week and what it means,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said.

Rivalry game vs. Wisconsin more about opportunity for Gophers

Saturday's game might be Minnesota's only chance for nearly a full calendar year to impress that noncommittal bloc known as casual fans in this sports-saturated market.
The Gophers football team lifted up Paul Bunyan's Axe in 2003 after Rhys Lloyd's field goal.

Tradition worth breaking? Calling hero from last time U won the Axe

It's Gophers-Wisconsin week, and that means Rhys Lloyd is getting an annual chance to reminisce about a career kicking highlight.
Coach P. J. Fleck laments that the Gophers have a minus-9 turnover margin, which ranks 13th among the 14 Big Ten teams, entering Saturday’s regular-

Fleck says Gophers need to reduce turnovers

Minnesota is minus-11 in turnovers in Big Ten play, heading into the regular-season finale at Wisconsin.
Jonathan Taylor ran in for a touchdown vs. Rutgers, one of seven TDs the Wisconsin star has scored in three games this month.

Gophers seek a way to slow down Badgers' Taylor

The Wisconsin star running back is nearing 2,000 rushing yards.
Minnesota linebacker Kamal Martin interfered with a a pass intended for Northwestern's wide receiver Trey Pugh in the end zone during the first quarte

Northwestern finds offense late, leaves Gophers tough road to bowl bid

The Gophers couldn't get that sixth win Saturday because Big Ten West Division-champion Northwestern played mostly error-free football and owned the key situations in a 24-14 victory.
Blake Cashman celebrated after he sacked Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson

Gophers' senior Cashman makes 20 tackles in final home game

"We're going to miss that young man one day,'' Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "He's an incredible player.''
The Gophers last went to a bowl game in 2016, when Minnesota wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky held the Holiday Bowl trophy alongside the team after they

Can the Gophers get to a bowl? If so, where will they go?

College Football Insider: Big Ten bowl guesses start at the top with two national playoff possibilities. The Gophers need to win one of their last two games to get to a postseason game.
Northwestern running back Isaiah Bowser runs up field during a 34-yard touchdown run in the second half vs. Iowa.

Northwestern to take 'championship approach' vs. Gophers

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said even though the Wildcats are assured a spot in the Big Ten title game the final two weeks of the regular season will be played with a "championship approach."
Gophers linebacker Blake Cashman recovered a fumble and ran 40 yards for a touchdown against Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium last Saturday. Cashman also ha

Will it continue? Linebackers were energy source in U's upset of Purdue

New defensive coordinator Joe Rossi said the team's linebackers were big in beating the Boilermakers. One more victory will make the Gophers eligible for a bowl game.
Gophers wide receiver Phillip Howard, who played several positions in high school, might be tried at cornerback.

Gophers wide receiver Howard might get a chance at cornerback

At Cooper High School, Phillip Howard was a jack of all trades, playing quarterback, receiver, defensive back and return specialist.
Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck

U cuts ties with top football recruit after domestic battery charge

Once the top-rated player in the Gophers football recruiting class of 2019, Jason Bargy faces charges in Illinois and is no longer in Minnesota's plans.
Linebacker Blake Cashman put some distance between the Gophers and Purdue on Saturday when he returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown.

U's defensive revival: 'We tackled well, we rallied to the ball'

P.J. Fleck had a thought about why the Gophers defense rebounded in his team's lopsided victory over Purdue. And was Blake Cashman robbed of an honor he deserved?
Minnesota linebacker Blake Cashman celebrated after sacking Purdue quarterback David Blough during the second quarter Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

New voice, new result: Gophers shine on defense to crush Purdue

In Joe Rossi's first game as interim defensive coordinator, the Gophers limited the Boilermakers to just 233 total yards and won 41-10 at cold, snowy TCF Bank Stadium.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim ran with the ball despite pressure from Purdue safety Navon Mosley during the third quarter Saturday at TCF Bank

Ibrahim's effort sets tone for Gophers offense

Operating behind an offensive line that won one-on-one battles throughout Saturday's game, the 5-10, 205-pound Mohamed Ibrahim got better as the game went on.
Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) has caught 42 passes for 578 yards and six TDs.

Bateman finds his form after standing firm to Gophers

Rashod Bateman is on a historic pace as a Gophers freshman wide receiver.
The Gophers have allowed more than 43 points per game in Big Ten play, including 55 at Illinois on Saturday.

Gophers hoping Rossi's new voice will spark better defense

The defensive problems facing the Gophers, to put it bluntly, are massive. Enter Joe Rossi, the team's interim defensive coordinator.
Gophers true freshman defensive tackle Jamaal Teague (52) had hoped to play in four games and still retain a redshirt year, but injuries might force c

Redshirt blues: Fleck showing how plans change under new rules

The reality of this season means that coach P.J. Fleck is asking more from one of his freshman that he wanted. "He's not ready to play, but he's going to play."
Former defensive coordinator Robb Smith during football practice at the University of Minnesota in 2017.

Fleck on firing Smith: 'Sooner or later you have to make a choice'

"This is not about one specific game or one specific issue," P.J. Fleck said, explaining his decision to fire his defensive coordinator, a longtime friend and colleague.
Former Minnesota defensive coordinator Robb Smith

Fleck fires defensive coordinator Smith after Illinois scores 55 points

Coach P.J. Fleck fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith on Sunday. The Gophers have given up at least 30 points in all seven of their 2018 Big Ten games.
Illinois quarterback AJ Bush Jr. runs for yards in the red zone during the fourth quarter

A forgettable Gophers rewind in 55-31 loss to Illinois

The host Illini racked up 646 yards of offense - 430 alone of the ground - with most of it in coming in sizable chunks. Illinois scored four times from 67 yards or longer.
Shannon Brooks

Season over for Gophers running back Shannon Brooks

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said after Saturday's 55-31 loss at Illinois that Shannon Brooks, a senior running back, will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury suffered in last week's victory over Indiana.
By studying and observing diligently as a Gophers backup, redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan was ready when called to start.

Gophers QB Morgan was prepared, confident when he took the reins

Tanner Morgan, a redshirt freshman, led three TD drives in the second half of a loss at Nebraska, then passed for 302 yards and three TDs in a win last week. Morgan will start again Saturday at Illinois.
Running back Shannon Brooks will not face charges for an alleged assault.

Gophers' Brooks will not face charges in alleged assault

Injured Gophers senior running back Shannon Brooks was arrested Oct. 14 and released the next day.
Virginia wide receiver Chuck Davis.

Randy Johnson's Five Spot: Surprising division leaders

With a month left in the regular season, some conference races have interesting division leaders.
Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern team looked like a non-factor in the Big Ten West after a 1-3 start to the season with home losses to Duke and Akron.

Everyone is chasing Northwestern in the Big Ten West

Colllege Football Insider: Only a late-season collapse can keep the Wildcats from reaching Indy.
Minnesota's linebacker Blake Cashman (38) celebrated a safety in the second quarter Minnesota took on Miami (Ohio), Saturday, September 15, 2018 in Mi

Walk-on wonderful: Linebacker Cashman making big plays for U

The former Eden Prairie star has been nominated for a national honor given to the most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim, left, is expected back from an undisclosed injury to play against Illinois on Saturday. Shannon Brooks, right, w

Next back up: Ibrahim gets Saturday's start in Gophers backfield

The Gophers have needed their depth at running back in a season that has been marked by injuries to players at that position.
Tanner Morgan (2) will start again for the Gophers on Saturday at Illinois, but it’s not clear if the team will have Shannon Brooks (4) available af

Morgan will start for U at quarterback against Illinois

The redshirt freshman quarterback was named Big Ten co-freshman of the week on Monday after leading the Gophers over Indiana.
Gophers receiver Tyler Johnson fell into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night against the Hoosiers.

Gophers' Johnson continuing to prove quite receptive

Gophers junior Tyler Johnson caught five passes for 102 yards and touchdowns of 8 and 18 yards Friday night. It's his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) celebrated with Seth Green (17) and wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell after Bateman’s decisive TD catch Frid

Long TD allows Gophers to escape with a win over Indiana after late blunders

The Hoosiers rallied from 22 points down to tie the Gophers, but a long touchdown pass sealed Minnesota's first Big Ten win of the season
Gophers coach P. J. Fleck looked for answers last week at Nebraska

Don't count Fleck among those 'shocked' at Gophers' struggles

P.J. Fleck this week reiterated that he expected a difficult season and that patience will be required with the Gophers football team. They have not won a Big Ten game this season.
Nebraska wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. (8) makes a catch and runs for a touchdown in front of Minnesota defensive back Jordan Howden (23) during th

After defensive collapse, Gophers football team goes back to basics

With the season in a downward spiral and Friday night's game against Indiana at TCF Bank Stadium quickly approaching, the Gophers need an answer for a reeling defense.
Zack Annexstad

Availability of Gophers QB Annexstad still uncertain

Zack Annexstad suffered an internal midsection injury late in the first half at Nebraska on Saturday and Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said Tuesday, "I'm not sure yet" if Annexstad will play Friday night vs. Indiana.
Minnesota's quarterback Tanner Morgan ran for a first down during the third quarter as Minnesota took on Nebraska at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Octob

Injury could force quarterback switch for Gophers against Indiana

Tanner Morgan replaced Zack Annexstad in the second half at Nebraska and led a pair of touchdown drives at the start of the third quarter.
Zack Annexstad warmed up before Minnesota took on Nebraska on Saturday.

Gophers QB Annexstad sent to hospital with injury

Zack Annexstad did not play in the second half of Saturday's game at Nebraska because of a midsection injury suffered shortly before halftime. He was sent to a hospital but was expected to be released.
Nebraska defensive back Lamar Jackson stopped Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman from making a grab during the second quarter

'We didn't come close': Gophers trounced by previously winless Nebraska

The Cornhuskers went ahead by four touchdowns in the second quarter, and racked up 659 yards for the game in their 53-28 victory sending the Gophers to their fourth consecutive loss.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) was named Big Ten freshman of the week after he had 157 rushing yards and two TDs at Ohio State.

Redshirt freshmen Ibrahim, Andries power Gophers ground game

On Saturday at Nebraska, running back Mohamed Ibrahim and lineman Blaise Andries, among many others, hope to build on last week's performance at Ohio State in which the Gophers ran for 178 yards.
Minnesota defensive back Antonio Shenault ran with the ball after an interception during the third quarter against Miami (Ohio). But in three Big Ten

Gophers defense is after the big prize — turnovers

While some teams celebrate fumbles and picks with chains, backpacks and robes the Gophers need to start taking the ball away from opponents to make any turnover prop worthwhile.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost

Stumbling, winless Huskers face Gophers stuck in agonizing slump

Nebraska is off to an 0-6 start with several close losses under new coach Scott Frost, the quarterback on Nebraska's last national championship team in 1997.
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