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.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
Coach Jerry Kill was understandably happy with the 27 scholarship players and four walk-ons who formally committed to Minnesota on Wednesday, and especially the speed that the new recruits will add to the Gophers.
Take the quartet of wide receivers who chose Minnesota, for instance. "I tell you what, those are four guys that can get it and go," Kill said of Jamel Harbison, Isaac Fruechte, K.J. Maye and Andre McDonald. "I think people in the Big Ten will tell you that -- they can run, they're athletic."
A few other comments from the Gophers coach about his first true class at Minnesota:
-- "I feel good about this group and where we need [to be to] compete in the Big Ten."
-- On whether quarterbacks Philip Nelson or Mitch Leidner could play next fall: "I want them to come in and think they're going to play, and work hard. We'll see what happens. ... If a freshman is going to play, he has to handle is academically and athletically." Both quarterbacks, he noted, were recruited by Iowa but chose Minnesota. "I feel like we're getting two of the better quarterbacks in the Midwest. ... They're both smart and they're both talented, and [you] don't worry about it. It will all work out in the long run."
-- "Out of all the home visits I made, I think we lost one kid at the end, a kid named Drew Davis [who] is going to North Carolina State. We all enjoyed Drew on his visits. Smart kid. [N.C. State] offered him last week, [and] that's home, five minutes from his house, and he committed there."
-- "We felt there was some need, certainly, in the secondary, that we needed some immediate help." The Gophers signed seven defensive backs.
-- "We've got to keep the best players in the state. We have to. So we've got to be a little more patient. This is our state. ... The great thing about Andre [McDonald], when I sat at his house, there was no question this is what he wanted to do. He figured out this was what was best for him, and that was good. That's what it comes down to."
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