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Randy Johnson

Reporter | Gophers football
Phone: 612-673-7664
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None
Randy Johnson is a sports reporter for the Star Tribune. He is the beat writer for University of Minnesota football and hockey, along with other college sports. Football and hockey at all levels are his main areas of interest.

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
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.
Shannon Brooks, recovering from a knee injury, was on track to play Saturday.

Brooks back with Gophers, but Fleck says player's status 'evolving'

Senior running back Shannon Brooks was on track to play his first game Saturday in Nebraska, but his weekend arrest could change that.
Ohio State running back Mike Weber

Big Ten office admits measurement needed before Ohio State awarded key first down

With the Gophers up 7-3 early Saturday, Ohio State faced fourth-and-2 from the Minnesota 44. Mike Weber was given credit for a 3-yard gain, though the ball was spotted ahead of where Weber was down
Minnesota's wide receiver Demetrius Douglas ran past Ohio State's defensive end Jashon Cornell and defensive back Alex Williams, right, during the fou

Ohio State benefited from extra yard on early fourth-down play vs. U

Rather than dwell on one call, coach P.J. Fleck took away some positives from a game in which the Gophers twice had the lead on a College Football Playoff contender.
Shannon Brooks (left)

Investigation continues into alleged assault by U football player Brooks

Shannon Brooks was released from the Hennepin County jail because 'further investigation is needed' in connection with an incident between Brooks and his roommate early Sunday.
Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin caught a TD pass despite the defensive efforts from the Gophers' Coney Durr during the first quarter Saturday.

'Season Two.' Can Gophers win race to six wins and a bowl?

After dropping from 3-0 to 3-3, the Gophers begin the second half of their season on Saturday against shockingly winless Nebraska.
Shannon Brooks

U running back Brooks arrested, suspected of assaulting roommate

Brooks, who has been sidelined all season because of a knee injury, was booked into the Hennepin County jail about 2:40 a.m. Sunday, according to the jail log.
Ohio State’s wide receiver Terry McLaurin caught a pass for a touchdown despite defensive efforts from Minnesota’s defensive back Coney Durr durin

Gophers spook Ohio State before Buckeyes pull away 30-14

Too many mistakes, not enough breaks for the U allow the third-ranked Buckeyes to remain unbeaten.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins dropped back to pass during the second half against the Gophers on Saturday.

Gophers-Ohio State game recap

A quick look at Saturday's game.
Gophers defensive back Jacob Huff tipped up Ohio State running back Mike Weber during the fourth quarter Saturday.

Gophers run defense shines against Buckeyes

Ohio State ran for only 92 yards, but the Buckeyes were able to do damage in the air.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins leads an offense averaging 49 points per game. He has thrown 25 TD passes and completes nearly 72 percent of his

'He's a stud.' Gophers face huge challenge in Ohio State QB Haskins

The backup to J.T. Barrett last year, Dwayne Haskins has passed for a nation's-best 25 touchdowns this season and is averaging 319.8 passing yards per game.
Daniel Faalele (pictured with his mother, Ruth, and brother, Taylor), all 6-9 and 400 pounds of him, will start at right offensive tackle at Ohio Stat

400-pound freshman moves into starting spot on Gophers' offense

True freshman Daniel Faalele, all 6-9 and 400 pounds of him, will start at right offensive tackle against Ohio State on Saturday.
Minnesota quarterback Zack Annexstad was sacked by Iowa's Chauncey Golston during the second quarter

Protection problems: Annexstad sacked five times by Iowa

Doing most of the damage for the Hawkeyes was defensive end Anthony Nelson, who had three first-half sacks, including two on back-to-back plays in the second quarter.
Nate Stanley is in his second year as Iowa’s starting quarterback and, at 6-4 and 242 pounds, he’s tough to get on the ground.

Iowa QB Stanley a big fish in a Big Ten pond

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley was a standout the Badgers let get away.
P. J. Fleck.

Fleck's salary isn't near the top among Big Ten coaches

USA Today released its annual study of college football head coaching salaries Wednesday.
Jordan Howden stopped Maryland’s Anthony McFarland on a third-quarter run last month in College Park, Md.

Gophers new safety Howden has past Winfield-like moments

Jordan Howden, a true freshman walk-on from Las Vegas, is part of the Gophers' plan to replace "one of the best" in injured Antoine Winfield Jr. Hodwen is described as "a diamond in the rough" by coaches.
Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse, left, tackled Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook last month in Iowa City

Hawkeyes' front four poses big problems for Gophers football

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck is impressed by Iowa's large front wall and linebackers, calling the group "big, long, tall [and] rangy."
Maryland linebacker Tre Watson sacked quarterback Zack Annexstad during the Gophers’ Big Ten opener on Sept. 22.

Healing Gophers eager to correct mistakes made in Maryland

Coming off a 42-13 loss to the Terrapins in the Big Ten opener on Sept. 22, the Gophers used the extra time to regroup, self-assess and prepare for an eight-week grind through the heart of the conference season.

To replace Antoine Winfield Jr., P.J. Fleck could be forced to rely on freshmen again

Two true freshmen are taking repetitions at safety.
Gophers defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. wore a green sticker on his helmet in memory of Nick Connelly.

Gophers players honor former teammate Connelly following his death

The Gophers paid tribute to Nick Connelly, who died Wednesday, by wearing a helmet decal with his initials and lime-green wristbands, the color used to promote lymphoma awareness.
True freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad is one of the reasons for the Gophers’ greater optimism for 2018.

Despite striking similarities, Gophers say they're different from 2017

Another 3-0 start to the football season. Another opener vs. Maryland. Déjà vu? The Gophers think not.
Nick Connelly

'Fly high bro.' Gophers mourn death of former teammate Nick Connelly

Connelly, a star player at Red Wing, died Wednesday at age 22 after a three-month battle with cancer. He stopped playing football last season because of concussion issues.
From pupil to rival: Fleck had early fan in Maryland's interim coach

From pupil to rival: Fleck had early fan in Maryland's interim coach

It's a rare reunion of teacher and pupil, who mutually admire each other, and it comes with much on the line for P.J. Fleck's Gophers and Matt Canada's Terrapins.
Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter, who celebrated after a field goal with teammate Payton Jordahl last week, is the most accurate in team history.

Lessons of success, failure keep Gophers kicker Emmit Carpenter on his toes

A student of his craft, the Green Bay native sympathized with Daniel Carlson's troubles that cost him his job with the Vikings.
Quarterback Zack Annexstad suffered an ankle injury early Saturday but went on to throw 20 passes and help lead the Gophers to victory.

Annexstad's ankle won't keep him out of Saturday's Big Ten opener

"Zack's performance was pretty gutsy. In terms of showing he's got guts, he can fight through being uncomfortable,'' coach P.J. Fleck said.
Minnesota's wide receiver Tyler Johnson plowed through Redhawks defensive back Joshua Allen for a touchdown

Nothing to sweat about: Gophers play through misses to beat Miami (Ohio)

Three touchdown catches by Tyler Johnson and a stingy defense masked some Gophers blemishes in a 26-3 victory over the RedHawks on a steamy afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium.

Gophers defense gets a boost from possessive offense

In the first half Saturday, the Gophers held the ball for 17:14 to Miami's 12:46 in building a 19-3 lead.
Coach P.J. Fleck greeted quarterback Zack Annexstad before the season-opener

Kids are all right: Gophers true freshmen thriving more than surviving so far

Together, four fresh faces of Gophers football — including quarterback Zack Annexstad and receiver Rashod Bateman — have made a positive impact in the season's early weeks.
Shannon Brooks, shown in a 2017 Gophers game, could be back on the field sooner rather than later.

Plot thickens as Gophers look to replace injured Smith in backfield

One of two freshman will start for Minnesota against Miami of Ohio on Saturday. But an unexpected name has made its way into the conversation for later this season.
Gophers' Winfield Jr., Carpenter win Big Ten weekly honors

Gophers' Winfield Jr., Carpenter win Big Ten weekly honors

Antoine Winfield Jr. was named the Big Ten co-defensive player of the week for his efforts in the Gophers' 21-14 victory over Fresno State, and was joined by Emmit Carpenter as special teams player of the week.
The Gophers made their way out onto the field through the tunnel before they took on Fresno State at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday

Young Gophers making Coach Fleck proud

Gophers Insider: An emotional P.J. Fleck heaped praise on his young team's performance Saturday night in the face of adversity after senior Rodney Smith was injured.
Minnesota’s running back Rodney Smith is helped off the field after a first quarter injury as Minnesota took on Fresno State at TCF Bank Stadium, Sa

Gophers can be proud of their penalty-free ways

The Gophers cut down on the flags in their second game, committing three for 30 yards in their 21-14 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night.
Minnesota running back Rodney Smith

Gophers running back Smith injured early in game vs. Fresno State

Senior running back Rodney Smith injured his left knee three offensive plays into Saturday night's game, in which he took a screen pass 11 yards for a first down.
Antoine Winfield Jr. is happy to be back on the field for the Gophers. But now his coaches might never let him leave that field.

Winfield thrilled to be back on field for Gophers – and now might never leave

Defense? Check. Special teams? Check. Offense? Sure seems like P.J. Fleck & Co. have something up their sleeves for the "chill-est, coolest" (and really talented) sophomore.
True freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad struggled for parts of the second half, but overall is his first game last Thursday was impressive.

Gophers offense 'not there yet' but showing early signs of big strides

P.J. Fleck's young skill position players have only played one game together. But there was a lot to like in that one game, even during season-opening mistakes.
P.J. Fleck showed his approval for the team after Gophers wide receiver Seth Green rushed for a touchdown in the second quarter

Upon further review, Gophers' opener provided plenty of highlights

P.J. Fleck had no difficulty picking highlights after Thursday night's 48-10 season-opening victory over New Mexico State, and three plays — one each on offense, defense and special teams — stood out.
At the request of Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield (right, now with the Cleveland Browns) made a pho

Gophers QB Annexstad hears from a famous walk-on

At the request of Gophers coach P.J. Fleck, reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield made a phone call to Annexstad on the eve of his first start as a true freshman.
Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. broke away from New Mexico State’s defense to return the punt 76 yards for a touchdown in the second q

Second-quarter surge: Gophers overpower New Mexico State in opener

Behind three second-quarter touchdown drives that covered 75 yards or longer and a 76-yard punt return for a TD by Antoine Winfield Jr., the Gophers overwhelmed New Mexico State 48-10 in coach P.J. Fleck's second Minnesota opener
Freshmen normally aren’t allowed to speak to the media, but Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck made an exception for quarterback Zack Annexstad (5) t

Walk-on Annexstad tuning out the noise to prepare for Gophers debut

When Zack Annexstad takes the first snap Thursday, it is believed he will be only the second true freshman walk-on in major college football to start a season opener.
Big Ten West football coaches want to end East dominance

Big Ten West football coaches want to end East dominance

Any way you want to measure, the East Division of the Big Ten been dominant. Can the West start making inroads in the coming football season?
P. J. Fleck and the Gophers are making final preparations for Thursday's football season opener against New Mexico State.

Final countdown to Gophers football opener begins

The Gophers are making final preparations for Thursday's season opener against New Mexico State.
Minnesota Head Coach P.J. Fleck watched over practice earlier this month.

Fleck effect: What's a realistic expectation for Gophers in Year 2?

P.J. Fleck showed in his first job that he can turn a program around quickly. Can he do it again, this time in the Big Ten?
Minnesota's quarterback Zack Annexstad is from Norseland, Minn., a small community near Mankato.

Fleck: Freshman walk-on Annexstad not on 'short leash' as U's starting QB

Zack Annexstad arrived on the University of Minnesota campus in January, young enough to still be in high school but bold enough to dream big.
Gophers true freshman Zack Annexstad made an eight-month climb up the depth chart and earned the starting quarterback job for the Aug. 30 season opene

Gophers teammates say they believe in their new quarterback

"The biggest thing for me is that when you talk about Zack Annexstad, he's a guy who completely blows away people's expectations," linebacker Carter Coughlin said.
The competition between redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan and true freshman Zack Annexstad to emerge as the Gophers starting quarterback for the Aug. 30

Fleck says he's still not ready to name starting quarterback

The competition between redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan and true freshman Zack Annexstad to emerge as the starter for the Aug. 30 season opener against New Mexico State goes on.
Gophers defensive linemen Jerry Gibson and Winston DeLattiboudere (46) appeared in football uniforms Monday but wore other uniforms over the summer. R

Gophers linemen find summer work at the zoo

Gophers defensive linemen Winston DeLattiboudere and Jerry Gibson spent part of the summer as security guards at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.
The Gophers’ Zack Annexstad, left, and Tanner Morgan have become potential starting quarterbacks despite their lack of experience.

Zeroing in: Gophers have two freshman QBs ready to start

One of two untested freshmen who have grown into the Gophers quarterback role will emerge as the new starter. But who will it be: Tanner Morgan or Zack Annexstad?
Gophers defensive back Chris Williamson, left, tried to elude a teammate at a recent practice. He can play several spots.

Two transfers from SEC teams hope to make impact with Gophers

Defensive back Chris Williamson transferred from Florida and defensive tackle O.J. Smith from Alabama.
Gophers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca

Ciarrocca encouraged by progress of U offense: 'It's ... like an orchestra'

Six practices into Gophers training camp, Ciarrocca isn't ready to equate his offense to the New York Philharmonic, but he sees signs of his charges being capable of making some good music.
(Left to right) Maryland coach DJ Durkin, Gophers coach P.J. Fleck and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald

College football coaches rush to agreement: New redshirt rule is good

Beginning this season, Division I players are allowed to play up to four games without burning a year of eligibility. Under the old system, playing even one game, in most cases, would have cost the player a year.
Coach P.J. Fleck took to the field for the Gophers’ first open practice, overseeing a team that he called more advanced at this time than the 2017 s

Fleck schooling Gophers on an accelerated curve

Four days into training camp, P.J. Fleck gave the public its first view of his second Gophers football team, with Saturday's open training camp practice at the new indoor facility.
Redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan, right, and early enrollee true freshman Zack Annexstad will compete for the Gophers' starting quarterback job.

Fleck's choice for Gophers starting QB? 'Whoever wins team' in camp

There's no sugarcoating the Gophers' finish of the 2017 football season, which ended with losses to Northwestern and Wisconsin by a combined score of 70-0.
Senior Blake Cashman was limited during spring practice because of a shoulder injury but is ready to compete for a starting job at weak-side linebacke

Gophers' Cashman is on the comeback trail

Senior Blake Cashman was limited during spring practice because of a shoulder injury but is ready to compete for a starting job at weak-side linebacker.
Badgers coach Paul Chryst said that expectations inside his team’s locker room are “really high” coming off a 13-1 season.

Badger breakthrough? Wisconsin well-positioned to contend for College Football Playoff

The Badgers return a wealth of talent from last year's team that went 13-1, the only blemish a 27-21 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten title Game — a setback that likely cost Wisconsin a spot in the playoff.
Second-year Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck told the Big Ten media that he is excited about his team, which has bought into his high expectations.

Fleck says Gophers football team is young but has potential

Fleck's motto for the season is "Race to MAH-turity'' — a nod to Ski-U-Mah — and just how quickly youth and talent develop will set the tone for Minnesota's 2018 season.
The Gophers' Thomas Barber (41) was one of 51 players named to the Butkus Award watch list, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker.

Gophers linebacker Barber makes Butkus Award watch list

The junior from Plymouth led the Gophers with 115 tackles last year, including a Big Ten-best 76 solo stops.
Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck will be speaking Monday during Big Ten media days (1 p.m., BTN).

Gophers' Fleck among Big Ten football media days' top draws

The themes for the Gophers this year will be pragmatic — just how will Fleck's youthful team improve on his 5-7 Minnesota debut and when will the coach's reconstruction effort bear fruit?
Bob Motzko

NCAA hockey committee proposes keeping options for 3-on-3 OT, shootouts

After being on the chopping block for a little more than a month, 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts might be back in college hockey.
Antoine Winfield Jr. (left to right), Thomas Barber, Carter Coughlin and Kamal Martin share an apartment together and, as they showed above, it can ge

Key Gophers football players building bonds 'that cannot be broken' on and off field

Time together on and off the field has opened up four U players to a bond they say will last a lifetime.

NCAA standardizes college hockey's overtime format

  Shootouts for an extra point in the conference standings? On the way out. Three-on-three overtime? Likely kaput. Different overtime rules for different conferences? Going…

Gophers add quarterback from Texas for 2019 class

Jacob Clark is the 24th-rated pro-style passer in the nation.
Ben Brinkman of Edina celebrated after a goal during the Section 6AA tournament in March.

Edina star Brinkman leaving school early to join 2018-19 Gophers hockey

Defenseman Ben Brinkman, who was a junior this past season, accelerated his high school education to graduate early.
How has Temi Ogunrinde’s transition from sprint to hammer thrower gone? The Big Ten champion is eyeing another title, a national championship, this

Sprinter to thrower: U track star Ogunrinde makes dramatic change

To Temi Ogunrinde, the proposal seemed preposterous. She had been a sprinter her whole life, and that's what felt comfortable.
Gophers players celebrated at the end of the game on Sunday. Minnesota beat UCLA 13-8 to advance to a super regional at Oregon State.

Gophers outslug UCLA, win regional title

His eyes moist from tears and his voice cracking, coach John Anderson was at a loss for words after the Gophers won their first NCAA title in his 37 years of running the team.
Minnesota third baseman Micah Coffey (8) celebrated with teammates after their 3-2 victory over UCLA

Gophers outlast UCLA in 10 innings, advance to NCAA region final

Micah Coffey doubled down the right-field line to score Tanner Vavra in the top of the 10th inning for the winning run. The Gophers will play the winner of the UCLA-Gonzaga game on Sunday night.
Junior college import Vic Viramontes fumbled twice in the spring game and had fallen to third on the depth chart.

Quarterback Vic Viramontes to leave Gophers football program

He surfed into Minnesota on a big wave, the California cool kid with a flow of hockey hair, a sleeve of tattoos and an impressive…
Minnesota pitcher Reggie Meyer works against Canisius in the second inning Friday.

Meyer shines, Gophers stomp Canisius in NCAA baseball opener

Reggie Meyer gave up one run and five hits over eight innings while striking out six and the Gophers scored five runs in the second inning to breeze to victory.
The Gophers are making their 19th NCAA tournament under coach John Anderson, but their first at home since 2000.

U hopes to finally win baseball regional in Anderson's 19th try

In his 37th year as coach, John Anderson might have his best shot at advancing after the Gophers won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.
Eden Prairie rising senior quarterback Cole Kramer is among those who have committed verbally to play for Minnesota as part of the Class of 2019.

Fleck couldn't land the big one, but Gophers 2019 class is filling up

Minnesota's Class of 2019 is thought to be off to a good start, despite losing Edina offensive tackle Quinn Carroll, the state's top-ranked recruit, who chose Notre Dame.
Bob Motzko, the new Gophers hockey coach hired away from St. Cloud, did not appear with other U of M coaches at a stop in the Granite City on Wednesda

Too soon: Motzko skips Gopher Road Trip stop at St. Cloud

The annual trip of Gophers coaches appearing around the state had a noticeable absence in St. Cloud. "Next year, I'll be there," men's hockey coach Bob Motzko said.
Bob Motzko is making changes at the University of Minnesota, but he’s trying to do so with a thoughtful approach. “We’re not going to come here

Motzko driving hard (and long) nearly two months into U hockey job

With a new coach in charge, changes will come. But Bob Motzko, the former St. Cloud State coach, wants to be thoughtful as he goes forward.
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