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.
Summer semester begins today at the University of Minnesota, and so do a couple of dozen college football careers.
Nearly every high school player who signed a letter of intent last February moved into student housing over the weekend, and will attend their first classes today, getting a jump on academics before football camp opens in August.
"It's exciting when all the new guys get here," said offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover. "There's just a lot of enthusiasm for getting started. They make you wish football season would hurry up."
In part, that's because Limegrover and the rest of Jerry Kill's coaching staff have little contact with the incoming freshmen until August. The NCAA prohibits organized football activities during the summer -- no meetings to go over the playbook, no watching film with the position coaches -- so players generally hold "captain's practices," informal sessions with no coaches present.
"The only thing that can be organized is, the strength and conditioning staff can hold weight workouts," Limegrover said, "plus the academic stuff. If someone has a question, I can answer it, but basically we try to be real careful about staying away."
The coaches are busy holding clinics for potential recruits anyway; the first one of those was held Sunday, and Kill's staff has several more planned for this month. They are also evaluating recruiting films, and watching films of next season's opponents.
That leaves much of the teaching to the new Gophers' teammates
. Limegrover and the other coaches ask the upperclassmen to help the freshmen adjust. "I'll tell a guy, 'Hey, he needs to know where to throw his dirty laundry, and here's where things are around campus, and here's how we line up in the huddle," Limegrover said. "I leave it up to the kids to teach each other some of that basic stuff, because you can't really set up meetings or anything."
With the exception of one player, Miami Central High defensive lineman Jordan Hinojosa, the entire recruiting class has graduated from high school with the necessary academic credentials and enrolled at Minnesota, according to Kill. Hinojosa's status is still to be determined; he could be here in the fall, or possibly enroll at a junior college for a season.
The Gophers had considered delaying the enrollment of a few players until next January, a practice known as "greyshirting," in order to spread out their program's unbalanced scholarship load, but apparently decided against it.
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