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.
It’s almost time for spring football -- at Northwestern, at least. The Wildcats open spring practice Wednesday.
The Gophers don’t start until March 26, with the annual spring game on April 27, which gives us plenty of time to study the roster. Let’s keep the player capsule series going today with a look at another one of the key returnees on defense:
Position: Defensive back
High School: Lehigh (Fla.)
Recruiting flashback: Minnesota was one of two Division I programs to offer Wells a scholarship. The other was Ball State. Wells was listed as a two-star recruit by Rivals.com, and committed to Minnesota a week before signing day in 2011. Coach Jerry Kill’s staff can use him as a prime example of how they can take unheralded players and turn them into standouts.
Early college: Wells played 11 games at cornerback as a true freshman in 2011 and finished with eight tackles.
2012 rewind: Wells switched to safety and made an immediate impact in the season-opener at UNLV, with eight tackles and two interceptions. He finished non-conference play with 32 tackles in four games. But he lacerated his knee in the second Big Ten game, against Northwestern, and remained on the injury report, as the knee needed restitching two times. He wound up playing in all 13 games and started 11, finishing tied for third on the team with 74 tackles. He didn’t have another interception after the UNLV game, but he recovered a fumble against Illinois.
2013 outlook: In Wells, Brock Vereen and Cedric Thompson, the Gophers will return three experienced safeties this year, but they need to replace two starting cornerbacks, in Michael Carter and Troy Stoudermire. So it’s possible Wells could be asked to move back to corner. Either way, he’ll look to build on a breakout season.
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