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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Rodrick Williams looks like a man on a mission this spring

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers spring football Updated: March 26, 2014 - 2:32 PM

Chip Scoggins came to practice Tuesday, and I promised him he’d see something electrifying from Berkley Edwards. I was convinced Edwards was good for at least one of these moments per day after watching the first five spring practices.

Alas, Edwards didn’t break a long one this time, but Rodrick Williams burst through the line at one point and darted for the sideline on a long run. Slowed by a turf toe injury last fall, he’s definitely running better this spring and looks like he’s on a mission.

On March 8, the 5-11, 235-pound Williams ran right over linebacker Cody Poock on a run, then shouted at the defense, “Give me somebody who wants to hit!”

On the next play, Williams had an excellent block in pass protection and drew immediate praise from Coach Jerry Kill. Blocking was a real weakness for Williams in 2012 as a freshman, so he’s come a long way.

“Competition makes everybody get after it, that’s for sure,” Kill said, noting that the battle for playing time is especially fierce at running back.

David Cobb is coming off a 1,200-yard season. Edwards -- while only 5-9, 190 pounds -- looks like something entirely new and dynamic for the offense. And Donnell Kirkwood is running much better after spraining his ankle in last year’s season opener. Don’t forget: Kirkwood led this team with 926 rushing yards just two seasons ago.

And then there’s incoming freshman Jeff Jones – the program’s highest rated recruit in ages.

Cobb and Kirkwood are seniors this fall, but between Edwards, Jones and Williams, the team’s running game appears to be in good hands for the foreseeable future.

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