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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Perkins to be honored at Citrus Bowl Parade, alongside grand marshal Grant Hill

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors, Gophers post season Updated: December 17, 2014 - 2:41 PM

The Citrus Bowl Parade will run through downtown Orlando on Dec. 30, two days before the Gophers play Missouri, and Wednesday, the honored guests for the parade were revealed.

According to a Citrus Bowl spokesperson, the grand marshal will be former NBA All-Star Grant Hill. Minnesota’s VIP Guest will be Al-Star closer Glen Perkins, and Missouri’s VIP guest will be its chancellor, Dr. R. Bowen Loftin.

Perkins went 19-5 with a 2.87 ERA in two seasons for the Gophers before the Twins signed him as a first-round draft pick in 2004. The lefthander has posted 70 saves over the past two seasons for the Twins, making the All-Star team both years.

Last year’s Citrus Bowl pitted Wisconsin against South Carolina. The parade grand marshal was PGA veteran Justin Rose, and his “VIP guests” were both Heisman winners – George Rogers from South Carolina and Ron Dayne from Wisconsin.

The parade will feature the Gophers and Missouri marching bands, as well as various high school bands and citrus floats. For more on the parade, visit FloridaCitrusParade.com.

Note: Sun Country Airlines added five flights from Minneapolis to Orlando for the bowl game. Details here.

Maxx Williams named AP second-team All-America

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors Updated: December 16, 2014 - 11:38 AM

Gophers sophomore tight end Maxx Williams was named a second-team All-America by the Associated Press on Tuesday, adding to his list of postseason awards.

The Gophers haven't had an AP first-team All-America since tight end Matt Spaeth in 2006. Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman was an AP third-team All-America last year.

Williams was on the second team behind Florida State senior Nick O'Leary, who also edged Williams for the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.

Williams was also named a Walter Camp second-team All-American, Big Ten Tight End of the Year, and a Capital One Academic All-American.

Williams is an exceptional blocker and led the Gophers with 29 receptions for 471 yards and seven touchdowns.

Here's a look at the AP All-American team.

Moore picks Gophers over reported offers from Texas, Kansas and BYU

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gopher recruiting Updated: December 16, 2014 - 11:01 AM

The Gophers added another coveted offensive lineman to their 2015 recruiting class Tuesday, when Tyler Moore, a center/guard from Houston North Shore High School gave a verbal commitment to Minnesota.

Moore, a consensus three-star recruit, also had reported offers from Texas, Kansas and BYU.

He is Minnesota's 18th commitment for the 2015 class and fifth offensive lineman. The Gophers have made the offensive line and secondary big priorities in this class. The other O-line commits are Nick Connelly (Red Wing), Bronson Dovich (Chaska), Ted Stieber (Akron, Ohio) and Quinn Oseland (Springfield, Ill.).

Here's a highlight video:

 

Gophers football attendance climbs while national average sinks to lowest mark since 2000

Posted by: Joe Christensen under TCF Bank Stadium, NCAA: football Updated: December 15, 2014 - 2:31 PM

The Gophers had a narrow increase in home attendance this season, to 47,865 per game. According to a report from CBSSports.com, this came in a year when attendance across the nation dropped to its lowest since 2000.

The CBSSports.com report notes that Ohio State led the nation 106,296 fans per game, followed by Texas A&M (105,123) and Michigan (104,909). This ended Michigan's 16-year run as the nation's attendance leader.

The report notes that average attendance in the Big Ten was 66,939, down from 70,431 last year, which was largely the result of adding Maryland and Rutgers. Maryland had a 14 percent increase in attendance but was still at 46,981, and Rutgers had a 9 percent attendance increase to 50,639.

Nationally, the average for FBS schools was 43,483, the lowest since it was 42,631 in 2000.

Here's a look at the Gophers' year-by-year average attendance in six seasons at 50,805-seat TCF Bank Stadium:

2009 -- 50,805

2010 -- 49,513

2011 -- 47,714

2012 -- 46,637

2013 -- 47,797

2014 -- 47,865

Gophers sell 6,600 tickets to Citrus Bowl in less than five days

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Bowl games Updated: December 12, 2014 - 4:55 PM

The Gophers had sold 6,600 tickets for the Citrus Bowl as of Friday afternoon, according to Senior Associate AD Chris Werle. That's more than the Gophers sold to their past two bowl games combined (6,538).

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