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.
Considering Da'Jon McKnight is the only returning wide receiver who has caught more than two passes for the Gophers, it's safe to say that wideout is an area of concern for Minnesota. So while they might not be getting the most attention among Jerry Kill's first recruiting class this week, the four receivers who signed up on Wednesday might have the biggest impact next fall. There's certainly an opportunity, right?
Kill was lavish in his praise of Edina prep Devin Crawford-Tufts, who "can run right by people." And Marcus Jones, from Wake Forest, N.C., is "like (David) Gilreath at Wisconsin -- 5-8, 170, and he can fly. Great speed, great athleticism, very, very quick." (That comparison must sting Gopher fans a little, since Gilreath is a Minneapolis native who chose the Badgers over his hometown team.) It doesn't hurt his stock that Jones graduated early and is already taking classes at Minnesota.
Ge'Shun Harris, who Kill estimated now weighs 220 or 225 pounds, "is an outstanding receiver," Kill said, and considering he's already played two seasons at Arizona Western Community College, figures to have the best shot at claiming a starting job next fall.
Harris has already made an impression with his physical condition. "You walk out (during workouts) and you want to see people stand out -- he stands out right now," Kill said. "It's not hard to figure out who he is, which is a good thing."
Then there's Quentin Gardener, who Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every called one of the five "sleeper" signees nationally.
"Gardener started off the season strong as a go-to receiver for Oklahoma State commitment J.W. Walsh. His ability to create space using his running back-shaped body, coupled with soft hands, made him a dangerous weapon," Every wrote. "And he has the power and strength to break simple arm tackles, similar to Hines Ward."
Gardener was overlooked by major programs, however, because he strained the MCL ligament in his right knee, causing him to miss five games for Guyer High in Denton, Texas, and when he came back, he was switched to cornerback.
"This versatile athlete will be adding serious ball skills and a mental toughness that the Gophers will surely take advantage of," Every wrote.
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