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.

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Gophers WR Jamel Harbison returns from knee injury with strong showing in spring game

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers spring football Updated: May 1, 2013 - 2:14 PM

Jamel Harbison can’t wait for practice to start again, on Aug. 1. The Gophers receiver who started last year’s season opener as a true freshman, only to tear his ACL in the first quarter, showed how far he has come during last Saturday’s spring game.

Harbison, who was granted a medical redshirt for last year, had five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, leading the second-team offense. Not bad consider he's only eight months removed from major knee surgery.

“Jamel’s a dangerous receiver,” Leidner said. “You want to get the ball in his hands.”

The wide receiving corps is the biggest question for the offense. Derrick Engel had five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown in the spring game, but fellow starter Isaac Fruechte managed just one catch for five yards, and Devin Crawford-Tufts was out with a leg injury.

Those are the Gophers three projected starters for this fall, but Coach Jerry Kill makes no secret that the team is looking for more playmakers. Harbison and KJ Maye (two catches, 36 yards in the spring game) are both candidates, as are incoming recruits Drew Wolitarsky and Eric Carter.

Earlier in spring camp, Harbison said his speed was about 85 percent, coming back from the knee surgery.

On Saturday? “Ninety-five percent, just because the tempo was up a little more,” he said. “Felt good cutting on it and everything. So it’s not a problem right now.”

That’s good news for Minnesota's offense.

Note: Former Gophers TE John Rabe has been invited to Vikings rookie camp.

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