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.
The Gophers football team is starting it season-ticket renewals today, and this web page plays off the charged atmosphere at the Syracuse game last fall.
I was in Detroit covering the Twins that weekend but watched parts of the Gophers’ 17-10 win in a sports bar. People tell me it was the kind of night that reminds people what’s possible at TCF Bank Stadium.
When spring practice opens March 26, the Gophers will be without offensive linemen Ed Olson (ankle surgery) and Zach Mottla (broken leg). But the coaching staff is still excited about the depth of the O-line. Brian Bobek, Jonah Pirsig, Isaac Hayes and among those who'll get a chance to show what they can do.
And here’s a look at one of the linemen who played a key role last year:
Position: Offensive lineman
Eligibility: Redshirt junior
High School: Kenosha (Wis.) Tremper
Recruiting flashback: Listed as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Epping had an offer from Jerry Kill’s staff at Northern Illinois, but committed to Tim Brewster and the Gophers. Epping was a Wisconsin All-State selection as a senior and actually was a standout defensive player in high school.
Early college: He redshirted in 2010 and played in all 12 games in 2011, starting eight.
2012 rewind: Epping and Josh Campion were the Gophers' only offensive linemen to start all 13 games. Epping moved from left guard to center, when the Gophers had to turn to their third option there after injuries to Zach Mottla and Jon Christenson.
2013 outlook: Epping’s intensity showed in the bowl game when he took back-to-back personal foul penalties. His versatility showed when he willingly moved to center, with his team in a pinch. And his accountability showed when he owned his mistakes with the media after two fumbled snaps against Northwestern. Throw in his durability, and the Gophers are glad to have him around for the next two seasons.
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