Kill hopes WR McDonald can rejoin Gophers on Aug. 1

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 14, 2013 - 12:29 AM
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Gophers receiver Andre McDonald (12) caught this pass against Michigan State last season.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Gophers coach Jerry Kill said Thursday that he is “cautiously optimistic” sophomore wide receiver Andre McDonald will be ready to rejoin the team Aug. 1.

McDonald dropped out of school and missed spring practice because of a personal matter. The highly touted recruit out of Hopkins High School played in eight games last year, making 10 receptions for 121 yards.

Injury concerns

Kill said the team’s biggest questions health-wise are offensive lineman Jonah Pirsig (knee surgery), wide receiver Devon Wright (shoulder surgery), center Brian Bobek (viral infection), offensive lineman Zach Mottla (compound leg fracture) and linebacker Peter Westerhaus (lingering health concerns).

Kill said the Gophers have 17 players recovering from surgery.

That list includes offensive linemen Jon Christenson (ankle) and Zac Epping (elbow), but it sounds like they’ll be ready to go Aug. 1.

Bobek, a transfer from Ohio State, missed much of spring camp and still hasn’t recovered.

“He had a real, real serious viral infection,” Kill said. “Right now, if we were starting tomorrow, he couldn’t go. We hope by camp he’s ready.”

U sets academic record

The football team’s 994 APR (Academic Progress Rate) score for the 2011-12 school year was a program record.

A 1,000 APR is considered perfect, and the football team has bounced back from a 917 multiyear score under then-coach Tim Brewster that resulted in the loss of three scholarships.

Last June, the Gophers narrowly avoided the same penalty with a 932 multiyear APR score, but this year’s multiyear score (spanning years from 2008-2012) was a 955.

“Someday I’ll write a book on it,” Kill said. “We were one player away from losing scholarships — having 25 people on academic warning and three suspended — and now all of a sudden where we’re at, with basically only 30 new kids in the program.

‘‘… I give credit to the kids, and I give credit to the coaches and then the academic people.”

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