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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So which will happen first -- the Gophers will complete signing day, or the temperature will rise above zero?
Minnesota has announced that the paperwork has arrived this morning from 17 of the 19 expected members of the 2011 class (plus kicker Chris Hawthorne, a transfer from N.C. State who is already in school). And there's a new addition to the scholarship class as well.
Theiren Cockran, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound defensive end from Homestead, Fla., has accepted a Gopher scholarship as well, joining Texan Michael Amaefula and Kansan Drew Goodger as new recruits at a position that Minnesota needs depth at. Cockran, who obviously will need to add a few more pounds to his athletic frame, apparently received a scholarship offer once another Floridan, Wedley Estime of Delray Beach, chose Virginia Tech over Minnesota in the final week.
That brings to 21 (plus Hawthorne) the number of new scholarship recruits expected to sign today, and according to the Gophers, all except linebacker Quinn Bauducco of Moorpark, Calif., and safety Steven Montgomery of Miramar, Fla., have signed their letters of intent.
In addition, Jerry Kill has announced that five preferred walk-ons have accepted offers to play for the Gophers, three of them from Minnesota. The list:
Jon Christenson, Minnetonka -- 6-4, 275-pound OL
Ernie Heifort, Bemidji -- 6-5, 225-pound TE
Peter Mortell, Green Bay, Wis. -- 6-2, 193-pound P
David Platner, Eden Prairie -- 6-0, 160-pound K
Luke Trucilla, Erie, Pa. -- 6-0, 190-pound WR/DB
UPDATE: Bauducco and Montgomery have now signed their letters, according to the Gophers, and there's one more addition: Joe Bjorklund, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive tackle from Rosemount, has become the sixth offensive lineman to sign a letter of intent with Minnesota. Along with six linemen recruited a year ago, that's a lot of depth for Matt Limegrover to work with over the next few years. The Gopher class now stands at 22 (plus Hawthorne).
Looks like the Gophers' class is complete. Here's the list of 2011 recruits, Kill's first class at Minnesota:
Michael Amaefula, DE, Arlington, Texas (Bowie), 6-2, 218
Quinn Bauducco, LB, Moorpark, Calif., 6-3, 225
Joe Bjorklund, OT, Rosemount, 6-5, 285
Foster Bush, OG, Menasha, Wis., 6-5, 270
Joshua Campion, OT, Fork Union, Va. (Fork Union Military Academy), 6-5, 320
Theiren Cockran, DE, Homestead, Fla., 6-6, 210
Drayquan Crawford, S, Yuma, Ariz. (Arizona Western CC), 6-1, 205
Devin Crawford-Tufts, WR, Edina, 6-2, 180
Quentin Gardener, WR, Denton, Texas (Guyer) 6-0, 190
Drew Goodger, TE, Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Shawnee Mission Northwest), 6-5, 234
Ge'Shun Harris, WR, Yuma, Ariz. (Ariz. Western CC), 6-3, 210
Marcus Jones, CB, Wake Forest, N.C. (Wake Forest-Rolesville), 5-8, 170
Grayson Levine, S, Eden Prairie, 6-0, 195
Jephete Matilus, LB, Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic), 6-1, 218
Kyle McAvoy, OG, Bloomington, Ill., 6-5, 293
Luke McAvoy, OG, Bloomington, Ill., 6-5, 278
Steven Montgomery, S, Miramar, Fla., 5-10, 184
Tommy Olson, Mahtomedi, 6-4, 275
John Rabe, TE, Iowa Falls, Iowa (Ellsworth CC), 6-4, 245
Max Shortell, QB, Shawnee Mission, Kansas (Bishop Miege), 6-6, 214
Derrick Wells, S, Lehigh Acres, Fla. (Lehigh), 5-11, 175
Peter Westerhaus, LB, Chanhassen (Holy Family Catholic), 6-3, 205
UPDATE II: There's a holdup on one of the junior-college recruits, safety Drayquan Crawford, who signed his letter of intent during the midyear JC signing period and enrolled in school. Crawford has been attending classes, so not sure yet what the delay is on listing him among the new recruits -- the football office says it's a paperwork issue -- but he's apparently not officially on the team yet.
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