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 sat down with Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones and Washburn coach Giovan Jenkins today for story that will run in Sunday's paper. Here's where things stand with the four-star recruit who now ranks as the nation's No. 44 college prospect in the latest Rivals.com rankings:
* Jones made a verbal commitment to the Gophers last February but has kept his recruiting options open.
* Jones plans to announce his college choice on National Signing Day (Feb. 5) inside Washburn's gymnasium.
* He said his five finalists are Minnesota, Iowa State, Florida, Michigan and Tennessee. Michigan State had been on that list but the Spartans have two running back commitments and recently told Jones they won't be seeking more.
* Jones has made official visits to Minnesota and Iowa State. He will visit Florida on Friday and Michigan on Jan. 31. He won't be visiting Tennessee, but said the coaches have been working on him.
* Jones has yet to qualify academically for a Division-I scholarship, but he is very close. He is within a point of getting a qualifying ACT score and plans to retake the test on Feb. 8. Jenkins said Jones would have two more chances to take the test and qualify if it doesn't happen on this try.
I came away from the interview feeling pretty confident that Jones will wind up sticking with Minnesota.
The decision, he said, "is going to come down to the relationship with the coaches, and the trust we're able to build."
I asked Jenkins for his gut feeling, and he said: "I like his relationship that he has built up with Minnesota. They’ve done a great job. They were in on him first and early and often. They are well within their contact limits, and they do a good job making sure that Jeff knows where he stands with them and their staff.
"They’ve never left me guessing or him. And in terms of a relationship already built and established, it’s going to be very hard for anybody to come in in the 13th hour and make up the ground they’ve already made up in the two three years they’ve known the man."
For more on Jones, check out our Sunday editions.
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