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  • Updated: May 1, 2013 - 7:45 PM

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Joe Christensen: Gophers WR Harbison optimistic after strong spring showing

Jamel Harbison can’t wait for practice to start again, on Aug. 1. The Gophers receiver, who started last year’s season opener against UNLV as a true freshman, only to tear his ACL in the first quarter, showed how far he has come during Saturday’s spring game. Harbison, who was granted a medical redshirt last year, had five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, leading the second-team offense. Not bad considering he’s only eight months removed from major knee surgery. Derrick Engel had five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, but fellow starter Isaac Fruechte managed just one catch for 5 yards, and Devin Crawford-Tufts was out because of a leg injury. Those are the Gophers three projected starters for this fall, but Coach Jerry Kill makes no secret that the team is looking for more playmakers. Harbison and KJ Maye are candidates, as are incoming recruits Drew Wolitarsky and Eric Carter. Earlier in spring camp, Harbison said his speed was about 85 percent, coming back from the knee surgery. On Saturday? “Ninety-five percent, just because the tempo was up a little more,” he said. “Felt good cutting on it and everything. So it’s not a problem right now.”

Gridiron Gold: startribune.com/gophers

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