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.
The Gophers landed their fifth recruit for the 2015 class Tuesday, when Red Wing lineman Nick Connelly gave a verbal commitment during an unofficial recruiting visit to campus, the Star Tribune has confirmed.
The 6-6, 270-pound Connelly plays both offensive tackle and defensive end and is a consensus three-star recruit. He had reported offers from Wyoming, Illinois State and Montana State.
The Gophers have commitments from two other offensive linemen for 2015 in Bronson Dovich (Chaska) and Ted Stieber (Akron, Ohio).
I'm back from a week of vacation. Here's a few quick updates:
* Searching for a fullback to replace departing senior Mike Henry, the Gophers convinced two players from Butler (Kan.) Community College to walk-on this spring. But one of those fullbacks has since left the program. Riley Oharah went through spring practice and gave it a shot but won't be coming back this fall. The 5-11, 236-pound Miles Thomas remains in the fold after a solid spring camp. As I wrote here, the fullback spot became a big hole last winter.
* An updated look at the roster shows a few number changes. LB De'Niro Laster will wear No. 1, CB Derrick Wells will wear No. 3, and DE Alex Keith will wear No. 9. Also, interesting to see some of the incoming freshmen numbers. DE Gary Moore is No. 19 -- I didn't expect to see that. (UPDATE: I just got a heads up that Moore picked that number because the day his father died was the 19th of that month.) The coaches have referred to Moore as "Baby Ra'Shede." Mr. Hageman wore No. 99, of course. That number will now belong to DE Andrew Stelter, another incoming freshman from Owatonna.
WR Melvin Holland Jr., plucked No. 21, which had been RB Jeff Jones' number at Minneapolis Washburn. Jones has No. 16 and is waiting to hear if he got the qualifying score he needed on the June 14 ACT exam. The scores are usually available 2-2 1/2 weeks after the exams are taken.
* Also, as Sid noted in last Friday's column, the Gophers received their fourth commitment for 2015 -- offensive tackle Ted Stieber, from Akron, Ohio. The 6-6, 295-pound Stieber is a consensus three-star recruit. He has family members who went to the University and still live here. "I've always liked Minnesota," Stieber told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "When I had the opportunity to play football there, it was a no-brainer for me.”
The Gophers were thrilled to land three tall and fast receivers in their 2014 recruiting class. Now they've added another one who will be in place for the start of camp, Aug. 1.
Desmond Gant, a 6-3, 200-pound sprinter from Aurora, Ill., became a late addition to Minnesota's 2014 class when he recently signed, with plans to enroll for summer session.
The story was first reported by the Aurora Beacon-News, which wrote, "Gant had to wait until after graduation to make sure he made it through the NCAA clearinghouse to be eligible before signing with the Gophers and coach Jerry Kill."
Also from the story: "An honorable mention Class 8A All-State defensive back (41 tackles) who also played wide receiver (3 TDs) and returned kicks (3 TDs) for the Tomcats, Gant caught the attention of Kill and his staff at a one-day camp last summer."
Gant joins the 6-4 Isaiah Gentry (Cincinnati Moeller), the 6-3 Melvin Holland Jr. (Ashburn, Va.) and the 6-2 Connor Krizancic (Mentor, Ohio) to give the Gophers an influx of needed wide receiver talent for this fall.
Grant Schmidt, an offensive tackle from Sioux Falls (S.D.) Roosevelt, who had reportedly narrowed his choices to Ohio State and Minnesota, committed to Ohio State on Monday, according to multiple media reports. The 6-foot-6 Schmidt is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com.
The Gophers added twin brothers to their 2015 recruiting class Thursday, when Jacob and Julian Huff, of Bolingbrook, Ill., gave verbal commitments.
Their mother, Dee Huff, posted news of their commitments on Facebook: “YES, THE TWINS VERBALLY COMMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MN TODAY!!!! … So proud of you both!!!”
Ryan Burns, of GopherIllustrated.com, posted a picture of both players from their recruiting visit.
With those two on board, the Gophers now have three commitments for 2015, including Chaska offensive tackle Bronson Dovich.
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