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.
Twelve months after giving the Gophers a verbal commitment, Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones finally made it official Wednesday, when he announced his final decision to play for Minnesota on National Signing Day.
“The staff over there is great, and it’s just a great opportunity to come in and be able to contribute right away," Jones said at a press conference in the Washburn gym following his announcement. "Coach Kill’s a genuine guy. He seems to have the best interests for his players before and after football, and right now he has about five guys on his staff that he’s coached before, so I feel like that was the best spot for me.”
Rivals.com ranks Jones as the nation’s 44th best recruit and No. 7 running back. He had narrowed his choices to Minnesota, Iowa State and Tennessee.
Jones still needs to qualify academically to play Division I, but Washburn coach Giovan Jenkins has said that Jones is close, needing just one more point on his ACT score and two-tenths of a point on his GPA.
Jones has three more chances to take the ACT, with the next coming Saturday.
Then, his next goal will be to play as a freshman.
“Yeah, that’s my goal, work hard this summer and come in and possibly have a chance to play right away.”
Jones committed to the Gophers shortly before National Signing Day last year but kept his recruiting options open as he gained in national prominence. He was named co-MVP of the Under Armour All-American Game in January and was scheduled to visit Florida and Michigan before those schools canceled.
Jones joked with reporters about not really having any doubts about coming to Minnesota.
“I had to make it seem that way for you guys, but not to me," he said. "I knew Minnesota was the right choice for me. They run the ball, and Coach Kill’s staff – you look at his track record, they win games, and so I wanted to come into a program that’s going to win.”
“He’s the best player from Minnesota and one of the best running backs in the country,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “I think he could become an impact player for [the Gophers]; that’s what they really need.”
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