Kill's assistant coaches get new deals

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 4, 2014 - 6:57 AM

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys

Photo: Marlin Levison, DML - Star Tribune

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When Gophers coach Jerry Kill signed his new contract in February, he made sure it included language ensuring his assistant coaches’ salary pool would rank in the top six of the Big Ten.

Now, Kill’s assistants are about to get raises, too.

Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys agreed to new three-year deals, and the other seven assistants have agreed to two-year deals, a person familiar with the discussions said Thursday. The contracts are expected to be finalized next week.

According to USA Today research, the Gophers’ salary pool for their top nine assistants ranked seventh in the Big Ten last year. Claeys was at $346,800 and Limegrover $341,800. For comparison, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will be paid $904,600 this year.

Longevity has been a hallmark for Kill’s staff. Claeys has worked under him for 20 years, and Limegrover 16.

The new contracts also cover tight ends coach Rob Reeves (19 years with Kill), defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel (14), wide receivers coach Brian Anderson (14), running backs coach Pat Poore (14), defensive line coach Jeff Phelps (seven), quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski (five) and linebackers coach Mike Sherels (four).

Lynn embraces move

Jack Lynn didn’t want it to happen because of another player’s injury, but he was ready to move from middle linebacker to outside linebacker if it meant more playing time.

When Cody Poock suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament last Saturday, the Gophers quickly inserted Lynn into his place. Lynn had been stuck behind senior middle linebacker Damien Wilson.

A redshirt sophomore from Lake Zurich, Ill., Lynn has added at least 20 pounds of muscle since he arrived at Minnesota and now weighs 240.

“I was 230 last year, and I can feel it,” he said. “When I take on blocks, it’s a little easier to get off of them.”

Claeys said if Lynn continues progressing, it’ll be nice to have good height at linebacker. Lynn is 6-4, and the Gophers have the 6-5 De’Vondre Campbell at the other outside linebacker spot.

“So it was kind of a no-brainer [to move Lynn],” Claeys said. “It gives the younger kids a little bit more time. Because I still think De’Niro [Laster] and Rayfield [Dixon] have the skills it takes to play in the Big Ten. They’ve just got to learn how to play in the Big Ten.”

Good offensive showing

Thursday’s 11-on-11 drills included a a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Leidner to Donovahn Jones and a 70-yard touchdown run from Berkley Edwards.

“There’s no question that the execution offensively is getting better,” Kill said

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