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.
I'm picking the order for this series randomly, following my own curiosity. After starting with Ra'Shede Hageman, let's stay on the defensive side of the ball today and look at another key fifth-year senior.
2013 class: Fifth-year Senior
High School: St. Charles (Mo.) Lutheran
Recruiting flashback: Hill walked on for the Gophers after a standout career at Lutheran High School, where he was a two-time team MVP in football, two-time team MVP in basketball and a two-time All-State selection in track. In football, he was All-State as a senior and named his conference's player of the year.
Early college: He redshirted in 2009 and started two games in 2010. In 2011, he missed the first three games with injuries but played in the final nine, recording 32 tackles.
2012 rewind: Hill played in all 13 games, starting 11 times, and finished with 74 tackles, tying him with Derrick Wells for third-most on the team behind Troy Stoudermire and Mike Rallis. A kinesiology major, Hill also was an Academic All-Big Ten selection for the second time.
2013 outlook: Hill is the team's lone returning starting linebacker, as Minnesota looks to replace departing seniors Rallis and Keanon Cooper. Hill is a candidate for the MLB spot, but it sounds more likely that he'll stay on the outside, with junior college transfer Damien Wilson among those who will get a look in the middle.
Hill had nine or more tackles four times last year. He showed his playmaking ability with his interception against Michigan State and the touchdown-saving tackle he made in the third quarter against Texas Tech. This fall, the Gophers will be counting on him to make big plays like that all season.
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