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.
Bob Stein, an All-American defensive end for the Gophers in 1967, is one of 77 former FBS-level players on this year’s College Football Hall of Fame ballot.
Stein, 65, was a two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection for the Gophers and a National Scholar Athlete. He played in the NFL from 1969-1975 and was part of Hank Stram’s Kansas City Chiefs team that defeated the Vikings in Super Bowl IV.
Stein went on to become the first president of the Timberwolves and remains a Twin Cities attorney.
This year’s Hall of Fame class will be announced on May 7.
NOTABLE VIKINGS ON THE LIST
The ballot includes at least six players with ties to the Vikings: Bob Berry (Oregon QB), Eric Bieniemy (Colorado RB), Ted Brown (North Carolina State RB), Randall Cunningham (UNLV QB/Punter), D.J. Dozier (Penn State RB), Darrin Nelson (Stanford RB).
To see the entire ballot, click here.
The Gophers received a verbal commitment from Florida high school linebacker Rayfield Dixon, according to GopherIllustrated.com, which said Dixon's choices had come down to Minnesota and West Virginia. The site has Dixon rated as a three-star linebacker and lists him as the 15th commitment for this year's Gophers class.
STREVELER LOOKS TO FORGE BONDS
I spoke to Chris Streveler, the quarterback from Marian Central Catholic in Woodstock, Ill., who begins classes at the University on Tuesday. He'll be competing for the starting job during spring practice with Philip Nelson, Mitch Leidner and Dexter Foreman.
"If it happens, it happens, but I’m not going to come in and press and worry about it," Streveler said. "I hope the quarterbacks there will take me under their wing and kind of help me out. Because I’m sure coming in early, it’s going to be a big jump coming from high school to college."
Streveler is rooming with Leidner, actually.
"I think it’ll be great to be around [the other quarterbacks] and learn from them and just come in and work hard. That’s kind of my motto: just get better every day. If I do that, things will work out."
Streveler sounds like a terrific kid. We'll have more on him next week.
DUNGY TO RECEIVE NCAA'S HIGHEST HONOR TONIGHT
There was a cool aside during last night's Gophers/Michigan telecast, when ESPN showed the 1974 game program from a visit Dick Vitale made to Williams Arena as a coach with the University of Detroit.
Tony Dungy, a two-sport athlete for the Gophers at the time, played against Vitale's team that night, and was featured in the game program with a photo spread. Decades later, when Dungy was an honored guest at the Dick Vitale annual charity gala, he brought along that program for Vitale as a gift.
As mentioned here last week, Dungy will be honored again tonight, this time with the Theodore Roosevelt Award at the NCAA Convention in Grapevine, Texas. University President Eric Kaler and Athletics Director Norwood Teague will be on hand, with Kaler making the presentation.
The award is considered the NCAA's highest honor, given annually to an individual whose time as a collegiate athlete helped shape "a distinguished career of national significance and achievement."
“We are proud and honored to call Tony Dungy an alumnus of the University of Minnesota,” Kaler said in a news release. “Tony personifies what we seek to instill in our classrooms and on our playing fields: innovative thinking, influential teaching and inspirational leadership. The entire University of Minnesota community takes great joy in this remarkable tribute to one of our own.”
We’ve got some recruiting stories in the works, but for now, I just wanted to pass along a couple nuggets:
* Tony Dungy will be presented with the Theodore Roosevelt Award at next week’s NCAA Convention in Grapevine, Texas.
According to the news release, the award is the NCAA’s highest honor and is given annually to an individual “for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being thereafter have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement.”
Before becoming a Super Bowl winning coach, Dungy played for the Gophers from 1974-76 and was a two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection at quarterback. He played one season for the Gophers basketball team and was named to the all-Big Ten selection at quarterback. He was a two-time All-Big Ten academic selection as well and graduated with a degree in business.
“The greatest thing for me going to college was learning about decision-making,” Dungy said in the press release. “You are making decisions about what academic path you are going to take, and what friends you build relationships with. You learn how to handle your personal life and process information. That is what college was all about for me.”
* So far, two outgoing Gophers seniors have been selected to play in postseason All-Star games.
Troy Stoudermire will play in Friday night’s Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz. This game, which produced six NFL draft picks last year, will be broadcast on ESPN3 at 6 p.m.
MarQueis Gray, who is preparing for the NFL Combine, is scheduled to play in the Texas vs. The Nation Game on Feb. 2 in Allen, Texas. That game has been around since 2006 and has included 100 eventual NFL draft picks.
Senior defensive end D.L. Wilhite, whose 8.5 sacks tied for second-most in the Big Ten, was named Monday to the All-Big Ten second team by conference media members.
Willhite, a fifth-year senior from Lexington, Ky., is the first Gophers player to receive all-conference recognition since 2009, when wide receiver Eric Decker was chosen for the first team by the league's coaches. His sack total was the seventh-most in a single season by a Minnesota player, and his career total of 15.5 ranks sixth in Gopher history.
Three other Gophers received honorable-mention recognition: Senior cornerback Michael Carter, selected by coaches and media members; plus junior defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman and senior cornerback Troy Stoudermire, each chosen by the media. Senior linebacker Mike Rallis was named the Minnesota winner of the league's Sportsmanship Award.
Gophers linebacker Gary Tinsley formally became a University of Minnesota alum on Thursday, when his parents accepted his diploma during the University of Minnesota's spring commencement.
The Mariucci Arena crowd stood and applauded as Ronda Evans and Gary Tinsley Sr. walked across the stage to receive their son's diploma from Jean Quam, dean of education and human development, before the regular bestowing of degrees began, a university spokeswoman said. Tinsley, 22, who died of an enlarged heart in his Wilkins Hall dorm on April 6, earned a bachelor of science degree in business and marketing education while at Minnesota, while also making 198 tackles as the Gophers' starting middle linebacker.
Gophers coach Jerry Kill and athletic director Joel Maturi attended the commencement with Tinsley's parents, who flew to Minnesota from Jacksonville, Fla., to receive their son's posthumous degree. Several of Tinsley's teammates also attended the ceremony.
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