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.

Posts about Gophers awards and honors

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

Posted by: Joe Christensen 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 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.

Florida State's O'Leary gets Mackey Award, edging Maxx Williams

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: December 10, 2014 - 9:17 AM

Florida State senior Nick O'Leary on Wednesday was named this year's winner of the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.

Gophers sophomore Maxx Williams was one of three finalists for the award, along with Miami senior Clive Walford.

Williams, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, leads the Gophers in receptions (29), receiving yards (471) and receiving touchdowns (seven). O'Leary has 47 receptions for 614 yards and six touchdowns.

Kill, Hoffner and Jennison take home AFCA regional coach of the year honors

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: December 8, 2014 - 10:07 AM

Gophers coach Jerry Kill, Minnesota State Mankato coach Todd Hoffner and Macalester coach Tony Jennison all received regional coach of the year honors Monday from the American Football Coaches Association.

These awards are voted on by their peers -- in this case, other active members of the AFCA -- with five regional winners picked at each NCAA level.

Kill was named FBS Region 3 Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. He was the only repeat winner in that division. The other honorees: Region 1: David Cutcliffe, Duke; Region 2: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State; Region 4: Gary Patterson, TCU; Region 5: Jim McElwain, Colorado State University.

Hoffner was named Division II Region 5 Coach of the Year, and Jennison was named Division III Region 5 Coach of the Year.

Kill named Big Ten Coach of Year

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: December 2, 2014 - 5:50 PM

Jerry Kill was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on Tuesday after leading the Gophers to a 5-3 conference finish and pushing Wisconsin to a winner-take-all game for the West Division title.

In a preseason poll of Big Ten writers, by Cleveland.com, the Gophers were picked to finish fifth in the West. But they kept themselves in the conference title hunt with November wins over Iowa and Nebraska, before falling 34-24 last week at Wisconsin.

The media and coaches selected Kill as Big Ten Coach of the Year over Urban Meyer, who led the Buckeyes to an 8-0 Big Ten record and an East Division title despite losing quarterback Braxton Miller before the season, and then losing J.T. Barrett in last week’s win over Michigan.

The last time the Gophers had a Big Ten coach of the Year was in 1999, when Glen Mason led them to a 5-3 conference finish, including a win over No. 2 Penn State.

Kill is 25-25 in four seasons as the Gophers coach. In the Big Ten, his teams have gone 2-6, 2-6, 4-4 and 5-3.

The Gophers (8-4 overall) will learn their bowl destination on Sunday.

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