Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

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Thursday update: Willie Mobley lands at New Mexico State; a look at the Gophers walk-on class

Posted by: Joe Christensen under College football, Gophers recruiting Updated: February 7, 2013 - 11:08 AM

On National Signing Day, with every recruit seemingly loaded with promise, Gophers coach Jerry Kill probably summed it up best.

"They're all paper tigers until they come through academics and go play," he said.

Sometimes, the recruits do OK academically, but they get injured, or for some other reason, all the talent that recruiters saw in high school just doesn't translate to college.

Willie Mobley was a four-star D-line recruit for Eden Prairie in 2008. Then-Gophers coach Tim Brewster recruited him hard, but Mobley picked Ohio State. After redshirting for the Buckeyes, Mobley transferred to Orange Coast (Calif.) College and then to Arizona.

He tore an ACL in 2011, but in three years at Arizona, he played in 23 games and made just 27 tackles, as colleague Patrick Reusse notes on Twitter.

On Wednesday, Mobley turned up on the signing list at New Mexico State, as the Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen reports. Mobley got his undergraduate degree at Arizona, and now he's transferring as a grad student. He'll need to get a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA by showing an injury contributed to his 2008 redshirt year at Ohio State.

If it works, Mobley will face the Gophers when they visit New Mexico State in the season's second game, on Sept. 7.

GOPHERS WALK-ON CLASS

On that note, every school has several walk-ons eager to prove the talent evaluators wrong. Other kids might be more heavily recruited, but these players can't wait to get to fall practice and show what they can do.

On Wednesday, the Gophers announced five walk-ons who have signed admission acceptances at the University. A closer look:

Jeffrey Borchardt, WR, Wayzata, 6-0, 185: Second-team All-State selection. Scored six TDs (four rushing, two receiving) in 49-14 playoff victory over Champlin Park. All-State in track as a junior.

Michael Conway, QB, La Crosse Aquinas (Wis.), 6-5, 205: Named La Crosse Tribune Football Player of the Year after throwing for 1,950 yards and 20 TDs and rushing for 800 yards and 11 TDs.

Chad Fahning, OL, De La Salle, 6-6, 270: First-team All-State selection. Turned down a scholarship from Western Michigan. Can play either guard or tackle. Started 34 games in high school.

Matt Leidner, OL, Lakeville South, 6-2, 280: Second-team All-State selection recorded 105 pancake blocks as a senior. His older brother, Mitch, redshirted at QB for the Gophers last season.

Conor Rhoda, QB, Cretin-Derham Hall, 6-3, 195: Threw for 1,400 yards and 19 TDs, and rushed for 600 yards and three TDs. Along with Notre Dame recruit James Onwualu, helped lead the Raiders to a 6-3 finish.

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