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 landed one of their most coveted targets on this year's recruiting trail tonight, when Melvin Holland Jr., a wide receiver from Briar Woods High School in Ashburn, Va., gave them a verbal commitment.
Holland is a consensus three-star recruit who also had offers from Wisconsin, Rutgers, Boston College and Wake Forest.
Then, less than one hour later, the Gophers received a commitment from Jared Weyler, an offensive lineman from Dayton (Ohio) Centerville High School. Weyler had offers from Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio).
Also tonight, Chanhassen offensive lineman Frank Ragnow tweeted (@Knarfwongar) that he will announce his college decision on Friday at 3:15 p.m. Ragnow has narrowed his list down to Minnesota, Arkansas and Florida State.
The Gophers have made it clear they have room for both Weyler. They now have 16 players committed with signing day coming Feb. 5.
Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson enjoyed his official visit to Rutgers but also is considering Kansas State, his father Pat Nelson said in an e-mail.
Pat Nelson wrote: "Visit [to Rutgers] went very well. Philip very impressed. Kansas State now interested and talking with them."
Philip Nelson announced he was transferring from the Gophers two weeks ago. He'll be able to sit out a year, under NCAA transfer rules, and still have two years of eligibility remaining because he has yet to use his redshirt.
This would be true even if he picks Rutgers because the Scarlet Knights don't enter the Big Ten until July 1.
Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson has an offer from Rutgers and will make an official visit there Sunday, his father Pat Nelson said in an e-mail Saturday night.
Rutgers will be joining the Big Ten this season, but they aren't scheduled to play the Gophers until 2016.
Philip Nelson, who announced he was transferring from Minnesota last week, has been working out in Arizona with Terry Shea, the former Rutgers coach. Shea also has given quarterback instruction to the likes of Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford.
* Khari Blasingame, a safety from New Market, Alabama, flipped his commitment from Minnesota to Vanderbilt on Saturday night.
* But the Gophers added a verbal commitment from Jonathan Celestin, a linebacker from Jonesboro (Ga.) Mundy Mill High School. That's the same school running back Rodney Smith attends, and he just committed to the Gophers this week.
Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones, a key recruit for the Gophers, was scheduled to make an official visit to Florida this weekend and Michigan next weekend, but those plans have been canceled, Washburn coach Giovan Jenkins confirmed today.
Florida and Michigan, which intensified their recruiting efforts for Jones after his big performance in this month's Under Armour All-American Game, have turned their attention elsewhere. Tennessee has been in contact with Jones, but at this point, he doesn't have an official visit scheduled to Knoxville.
Jones, who is ranked as the nation's 44th best recruit by Rivals.com, made a verbal commitment to Minnesota last February but has kept his options open. He has yet to qualify academically to play Division-I but is very close, with three more chances to take his ACT exam.
Jones has made official visits to Minnesota and Iowa State and plans to announce his final decision on National Signing Day, Feb. 5.
At this point, things continue to look better and better for the Gophers to keep Jones in state. They received a verbal commitment from Jonesboro, Ga., running back Rodney Smith on Thursday, but they have made it very clear to Jones that their goal was to get both him and Smith in this year's class.
I'll have a longer story on Jones as part of our 16th annual Super Preps package in Sunday's editions.
Rodney Smith, a running back from Jonesboro (Ga.) Mundy High School, committed to the Gophers on Thursday night, becoming the 14th commitment in this year’s recruiting class for Minnesota.
The 5-11, 195-pound Smith is rated as a three-star recruit in the 247Sports.com composite rankings and rushed for 2,201 yards as a high school senior. He reportedly narrowed his choices to the Gophers and East Carolina University.
Smith announced his decision on Twitter (@Numerouno1_), saying “I am committed to the University of Minnesota! #SkiUMah.”
The Gophers are still waiting to find out for sure if Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones will sign his letter of intent after giving a verbal commitment last February. Jones canceled his official visit to Florida for this weekend, according to GopherIllustrated.com.
The Gophers would welcome the chance to sign both Smith and Jones in this year’s class.
|Sports (4)||Football (12)|
|College football (572)||Bowl games (18)|
|Gopher coaches (101)||Gopher quarterbacks (75)|
|Gopher recruiting (53)||Gopher road games (23)|
|Gophers disciplinary action (13)||Gophers injuries (87)|
|Gophers on TV (10)||Gophers preseason practice (66)|
|Gophers recruiting (23)||Gophers spring football (66)|
|TCF Bank Stadium (8)||The Big 10 (67)|
|NCAA: football (7)||Gophers game day (112)|
|Gophers postgame (48)||NCAA (17)|
|Gophers awards and honors (25)||Gophers post season (11)|
|Gophers roster moves (18)||Coaching (44)|
|Gophers player capsules (13)|