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.
The Gophers received a verbal commitment from Wayzata tight end Brandon Lingen today, giving them eight commitments for their 2014 recruiting class.
At 6-5, 240 pounds, Lingen has added 30 pounds since his junior season, when an injury limited him to four receptions for 46 yards. This year, he has seven receptions for 91 yards and three touchdowns.
Lingen tweeted the news today (@Brandon_Lingen): "Proud to say that I am officially a Gopher #SkiUMah."
Lingen has no star rating with the recruiting services, but he also has drawn offers from Air Force and Florida Atlantic. He is the second tight end in this Gophers class, joining Gaelin Elmore, from Somerset, Wis.
Update: Rivals.com has since given Lingen a three-star rating.
The Gophers football team received the seventh commitment of its 2014 recruiting class tonight from Everett Williams, a linebacker from Mansfield, Texas, a source confirmed.
The news was first reported by GopherIllustrated.com, the local Rivals.com site, which has Williams rated as a two-star recruit. He also had offers from Louisiana-Monroe, Navy and New Mexico State.
Williams is the first linebacker to commit for this Gophers class. They stockpiled five linebackers in their 2013 class, signing De'Vondre Campbell, Damien Wilson, Chris Wipson, De'Niro Laster and Rayfield Dixon.
Campbell and Wilson transferred from junior colleges and moved into starting roles this season. Wipson, Laster and Dixon are on track to redshirt.
CHICAGO – Anytime Gophers coach Jerry Kill was asked about practice facilities during this week’s Big Ten Media Days, he stressed the importance of pushing forward on the University’s recently unveiled $190 million athletic facilities plan.
“Right now, we’ve got a beautiful stadium, a great place to play on Saturdays,” Kill said. “But we have to improve our practice facilities, strength training and academic facilities. This is a critical project for us.”
Last year, ESPN.com ranked the Gophers football practice facilities as the fourth-worst in the Big Ten. Minnesota ranked ahead of Purdue, Wisconsin and Northwestern, but Wisconsin has since finished a major upgrade, and Northwestern is close to breaking ground on a $220 million upgrade.
Asked Wednesday if the Gophers have had a recruit tell them that he was picking another school due in part to facilities, Kill said, "It happened about three or four weeks ago. He pretty much said, ‘Coach, I love you and the camaraderie on your staff, the longevity. I love everything about you, love your school. But boy this other school, it’s just hard. They’ve got all this stuff,’ That’s how kids are.”
Coaches can’t mention recruits by name, but Kill could have been referring to J.C. Hassenauer, the center from East Ridge who committed to Alabama last month. The Crimson Tide have won three national titles in four years and boast some of the more lavish practice facilities in college football.
The Gophers’ new $190 million plan would provide new practice facilities for football, basketball and several other sports. The plan calls for the facilities to be phased in over the next six to eight years. For now, the Gophers are doing a fundraising feasibility study. Athletics Director Norwood Teague and Kill both spoke to Chicago-based alumni on Wednesday night.
Asked how soon the Gophers could break ground, Kill said that’s a question for Teague.
“I told him, ‘You need to get a shovel in the dirt before we start camp [Aug. 2],’" Kill said. "I know I’m very aggressive. He called me a pit bull yesterday. We need to get things going. Time’s essential in life, and we don’t need to waste any getting it done.”
Andrew Stelter, a defensive end from Owatonna, announced today on Twitter (@Steltz_78) that he has committed to the Gophers.
The 6-4, 247-pound Stelter becomes the sixth player in the 2014 class to commit to Minnesota. He had offers from Iowa State, Harvard, Princeton and Yale and was on Stanford's radar, too. Rivals.com lists Stelter as a three-star recruit.
Stelter had 12 sacks last fall as a junior for the Huskies.
One day after landing a top tight end recruit from Wisconsin, the Gophers football team got a commitment from one of the top centers in the country.
Connor Mayes became the fifth 2014 commitment for the Gophers. He is rated as a three-star prospect and as the No. 5 center in the nation by Rivals.com. He also has offers from Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Christian, Kansas State and Baylor.
The Gophers also made an offer to the No. 6 center on that list - East Ridge’s J.C. Hassenhauer. But he reportedly has committed to Alabama.
Mayes, from Van Alstyne (Texas) High School, is the younger brother of Alex Mayes, an offensive lineman who just arrived at the University as part of their 2013 class.
On Sunday, the Gophers received a commitment from tight end Gaelin Elmore, from Somerset (Wis.). He has offers from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State.
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