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 freshman quarterback transfers to Hutchinson CC

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers roster moves Updated: January 14, 2015 - 11:28 AM

Dimonic Roden-McKinzy, a quarterback who redshirted for the Gophers last season, has enrolled at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, a Hutchinson official confirmed for the Star Tribune today.

The news of Roden-McKinzy's transfer was first reported by Gopher247.com. There had been speculation that Roden-McKinzy would transfer after being passed on the depth chart last season by fellow freshman Jacques Perra, a walk-on from Roseville.

Jerry Kill's staff has a good relationship with Rion Rhoades' staff at Hutch, so it's possible the Gophers helped arrange this with the understanding that Roden-McKinzy could get playing time and possibly return to Minnesota. Classes at Hutchinson started on Monday, and Roden-McKinzy is currently listed as a provisional student.

Roden-McKinzy was a consensus three-star recruit coming out of Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kan. He ran the scout team offense leading up to the Citrus Bowl, mimicking Missouri's Maty Mauk. But Perra had already passed him on the depth chart, behind Mitch Leidner and Chris Streveler.

Former Washburn coach Jenkins to work as volunteer for Gophers

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers post season Updated: January 13, 2015 - 12:30 PM

Giovan Jenkins is stepping down as Minneapolis Washburn's football coach to become a volunteer in the Gophers' football department, Washburn Athletics Director Reginald Perkins announced Tuesday.

Jenkins spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach and head coach at Washburn, helping the Millers win 13 Minneapolis Conference championships and advance to the section finals six times, with one state tournament appearance.

Jenkins coached Ra'Shede Hageman and Jeff Jones on their way to joining the Gophers. Beginning in March, Jenkins will be volunteering for the Gophers in a non-coaching capacity.

ESPN.com puts Gophers football in 'way too early' Top 25

Posted by: Joe Christensen under NCAA: football, Gophers post season Updated: January 13, 2015 - 11:10 AM

ESPN.com never wastes any time looking ahead to the following season, and sure enough, the site's 'way too early' Top 25 is out, along with the conference power rankings.

The Gophers sit No. 25 on the national list and No. 4 in the site's "Too Early Big Ten Power Rankings." From the Top 25 entry:

Why they might finish higher: The Gophers continue to make strides under coach Jerry Kill, who guided them to an 8-5 record and their first New Year's Day bowl game in 52 years in 2014. There are some key pieces to replace on offense and defense this season, but the bulk of the two-deep depth chart is coming back.

Why they might finish lower: The Gophers are losing Cobb and Williams, their top two weapons on offense. Williams, who caught 36 passes for 569 yards with eight touchdowns, is entering the NFL draft after his sophomore season. Cobb ran for 1,626 yards and 13 touchdowns, and the Gophers will have a difficult time replacing his production. Quarterback Mitch Leidner played better in a 33-17 loss to Missouri in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, but he has to continue to improve as a passer. The Gophers were too one-dimensional on offense this past season.

Cobb headed to Senior Bowl; Botticelli, Thompson and Wilson to NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers awards and honors, Gophers post season Updated: January 8, 2015 - 2:41 PM

David Cobb is one of four graduating Gophers seniors who'll be in action this month in collegiate all-star games. Cobb has accepted an invite to play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala.

He'll be joined there by Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah, Michigan State's Jeremy Langford and Auburn's Cameron Artis-Payne, among other top running backs.

The Gophers also will have three recent grads in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl -- Cameron Botticelli, Cedric Thompson and Damien Wilson. That game is Jan. 17 in Carson, Calif., and the head coaches are Mike Holmgren and Mike Martz.

The Senior Bowl will be on NFL Network. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will be on ESPN2.

Cobb and Wilson's excellent adventure takes them to Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Posted by: Joe Christensen under NFL draft, Gophers post season Updated: January 7, 2015 - 2:34 PM

David Cobb and Damien Wilson shared a two-bedroom apartment at Roy Wilkins Hall on University Avenue the past two years while starring for the Gophers. Now, the two cousins have both graduated and have moved on to another two-bedroom apartment -- in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

They went right from the Citrus Bowl to the next chapter, extensive workouts for the NFL Draft. I chatted with their new agent, Jake Presser, today, and he's excited for both of them. Presser works for the Sportstars agency, which is based in New York.

Anyway, it was fun for me for hearing about their latest doings after photographer Renee Jones Schneider and I visited their on-campus apartment back in October for this story.

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