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 update: Practice schedule changes; Ndondo-Lay makes his mark

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers spring football Updated: April 4, 2014 - 12:30 PM

The Gophers announced today that Saturday's practice (11:20 a.m., Gibson/Nagurski Football Complex) will be the final one open to the public and media before the April 12 spring game.

The team can practice up to three times next week before the spring game (since teams are allowed up to 15 spring practice sessions) but anything between the next two Saturdays is closed.

The spring game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., at TCF Bank Stadium, and will be telecast on Big Ten Network.

Ndondo-Lay making his mark

As a beat writer, I'll take any access I can get, of course. One under-the-radar player who has stood out to me this spring, for example, is Robert Ndondo-Lay. He's a redshirt junior defensive lineman from Minneapolis DeLaSalle who transferred to Minnesota last summer from Winona State.

He's a 6-5 athlete in a No. 69 jersey, and the tenacity he has charging the quarterback, if not the skill, reminds you a bit of Jared Allen. Ndondo-Lay has the size to play defensive tackle and the speed to play defensive end. He's had a ton of reps this spring with defensive end Hank Ekpe out with a virus and defensive tackle Shoobee Timms out with a hamstring injury.

"He is a high-motor guy; he plays hard," defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said of Ndondo-Lay. "When you have his size and you play hard, it gives you an opportunity. And if he continues to develop like he has, he will give us a chance to rotate our front four like we’ve wanted to.

"He’s played a little bit of defensive end, and he’s played some defensive tackle. So he really could help us in either place, if we got into a jam. So he’ll have a role on the team by the time we get to the fall."

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