At the end of the 2006 season, Vikings coach Brad Childress made it clear that Tarvaris Jackson, the young quarterback from Alabama State, was going to be the No. 1 quarterback for 2007, with the position not a priority this offseason. Brooks Bollinger would also compete for the position.
However, in later conversations with Childress, he talked about how the Vikings could be looking for a young quarterback to battle Jackson and Bollinger for the starting job, though perhaps not a top draft choice.
Well, the word around the NFL is that the Vikings are going to pay a lot of attention to Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn at the NFL scouting combine, which started on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
Quinn is likely to be one of the players the Vikings will interview to try to find out what makes him tick. If Quinn makes a great impression at Indy and in further workouts, it might be difficult for the Vikings to pass over him if he is available with the No. 7 overall pick.
Quinn started his freshman year and holds many Irish passing records, throwing for 3,426 yards and 37 touchdowns last season. Notre Dame went 30-19 in his four seasons. But after going 5-7 as a freshman and 6-6 as a sophomore, he had records of 9-3 and 10-3 under current Irish coach Charlie Weis, the ex-New England offensive coordinator who had a lot to do with the improvement of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. has the Vikings taking Ted Ginn Jr. of Ohio State with their seventh pick, using Ginn as both a wide receiver and return man.
However, after the bad experience they had taking South Carolina's Troy Williamson at No. 7 overall in the 2005 draft, I expect the Vikings to look for wide receivers in the second round and later.
The 2007 Gophers football schedule includes seven home games, with only one of the first five on the road and with Penn State and Michigan State not on the Big Ten schedule.
The Gophers open with Bowling Green on Sept. 1, followed with Miami (Ohio) at the Metrodome and a trip to Florida Atlantic, where old pro coach Howard Schnellenberger might have a very competitive team. Then they begin Big Ten play with Purdue and Ohio State at home on successive weeks.
Road games follow at Indiana and Northwestern before North Dakota State visits the Metrodome on Oct. 20.
The hardest part of the schedule comes at the end: a road game at Michigan, a much-improved Illinois team here, a game at Iowa and then ending with Wisconsin at home. The Gophers don't have a week off from the beginning to the end of the season.
Locals high in draft
Doug Risebrough, the Wild president and general manager, said recently that there are more good young hockey players in this state than maybe any similar area in the world.
Well, if you check McKeen's Draft Digest's top 300 prospects available for this summer's NHL draft, given the number of local players featured on the list, you have to believe that Risebrough is on to something.
Sam Gagner, the son of former North Stars center Dave Gagner, is rated No. 9. Gophers freshman Jim O'Brien is ranked No. 14; Cretin-Derham Hall defenseman Ryan McDonagh No. 17; and Gophers recruits Patrick White of Grand Rapids and Nick Larson of Hill-Murray are No. 24 and 36, respectively.
Other Gophers recruits in the top 100 are Mike Hoeffel, formerly of Hill-Murray, at No. 45; Virginia's Nico Sacchetti at No. 70; White Bear Lake's Jake Hansen at No. 77; and Cade Fairchild, formerly of Duluth East, at No. 81. Hoeffel and Fairchild have been playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Former Blake goalie Kent Patterson, now playing in the USHL, is ranked No. 39 and Hermantown's Drew LeBlanc is No. 98.