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.

Posts about Gophers awards and honors

Kill earns Regional Coach of the Year Award from AFCA

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: December 11, 2013 - 9:16 AM

Gophers coach Jerry Kill received a 2013 Regional Coach of the Year Award from the American Football Coaches Association on Tuesday, joining Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, Baylor’s Art Briles and Stanford’s David Shaw as one of the five selections from the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Those coaches will be recognized at the 2014 AFCA Convention on Jan. 14 in Indianapolis, where a National Coach of the Year selection will be made for each of the Association’s five divisions.

Minnesota State Mankato coach Aaron Keen also won a regional award for Division II, Bethel's Steve Johnson won a regional award for Division III. Here’s a complete list of the regional winners:

Football Bowl Subdivision
Region 1: Jimbo Fisher, Florida State University
Region 2: Gary Pinkel, University of Missouri
Region 3: Jerry Kill, University of Minnesota
Region 4: Art Briles, Baylor University
Region 5: David Shaw, Stanford University

Football Championship Subdivision
Region 1: Joe Moorhead, Fordham University &
Jack Cosgrove, University of Maine (tie)
Region 2: Jamey Chadwell, Charleston Southern University
Region 3: Dino Babers, Eastern Illinois University
Region 4: Craig Bohl, North Dakota State University
Region 5: Ron Roberts, Southeastern Louisiana University

Division II
Region 1: George Mihalik, Slippery Rock University
Region 2: Scott Maxfield, Henderson State University
Region 3: Bill Conley, Ohio Dominican University
Region 4: Josh Lynn, Eastern New Mexico University
Region 5: Aaron Keen, Minnesota State University-Mankato

Division III
Region 1: Mike Welch, Ithaca College
Region 2: Jim Monos, Lebanon Valley College
Region 3: Pete Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Region 4: Tom Arth, John Carroll University
Region 5: Steve Johnson, Bethel (Minn.) University

NAIA
Region 1: Chris Oliver, Lindsey Wilson College
Region 2: Mike Woodley, Grand View University
Region 3: Larry Wilcox, Benedictine (Kan.) College
Region 4: Ross Cimpl, Dakota Wesleyan University
Region 5: Mike Van Diest, Carroll (Mont.) College

Hageman named Gophers MVP; Cobb named team's Offensive Player of the Year

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: December 8, 2013 - 2:31 PM

While waiting today’s bowl announcement, the Gophers held their annual team banquet and announced this year’s awards winners. Here’s a list, as compiled from Tweets from the @GopherFootball account:

Bronko Nagurski Award (MVP): Ra’Shede Hageman

Bruce Smith Award (outstanding offensive player): David Cobb

Carl Eller Award (outstanding defensive player): Ra'Shede Hageman

Bobby Bell Award (outstanding special teams player): Peter Mortell

Outstanding Offensive Freshmen of the Year: Donovahn Jones and Maxx Williams

Outstanding Defensive Freshman of the Year: Hank Ekpe

Wide Receiver of the Year: Derrick Engel

Offensive Back of the Year: David Cobb

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Zac Epping

Defensive Back of the Year: Brock Vereen

Linebacker of the Year: Aaron Hill

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Ra’Shede Hageman

Gary Tinsley Award (underdog): David Cobb

Neil Fredenburg Award (courage and love of the game): Aaron Hill

Butch Nash Award (competitive on field and in classroom): Jon Christenson

Paul Giel Award (honoring unselfishness, concern for the 'U'): Brock Vereen and Aaron Hill

Tony Dungy Character/Community Service Award: Chris Hawthorne

Work-Team Players of the Year: Jephte Matilus and Chris Wipson

Hageman and Vereen receive first-team All-Big Ten honors

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: December 2, 2013 - 7:41 PM

The Gophers football team hadn't been honored with a first-team All-Big Ten selection since Eric Decker in 2009. This year, they have two.

Big Ten coaches voted defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman and defensive back Brock Vereen onto the first-team all-conference list. Hageman also received first-team honors from the media, which made Vereen an honorable mention selection.

In addition, sophomore defensive end Theiren Cockran was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media.

Other honorable mention selections for the Gophers included guard Caleb Bak, punter Peter Mortell and cornerback Eric Murray (all coaches and media), linebacker Aaron Hill (coaches), tackle Josh Campion (media) and guard Zac Epping (media).

Here's a link to the Big Ten's release.

Game time set for Saturday at 2:30, Gophers climb to No. 23 in coaches poll

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 17, 2013 - 11:26 AM

The game time for Saturday's football game between the Gophers and Wisconsin finally was announced this morning. The teams will play at 2:30 p.m.

It took this long to decide because of television. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Both teams are 8-2. They play for Paul Bunyan's Axe, and the Gophers are looking to claim it for the first time since 2003.

TOP 25 UPDATE

The Gophers moved to No. 23, up two spots from last week, in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll, but Minnesota has yet to crack the Associated Press Top 25.

The Gophers received enough votes to sit at No. 26 in the AP poll, behind USC (No. 23), Ole Miss (No. 24) and Duke (No. 25).

The Badgers are at No. 16 in the AP poll and No. 17 in the Coaches Poll.

Mel Kiper Jr. currently projects Hageman as a second-round NFL pick

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: November 14, 2013 - 11:07 AM

Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman has had two quiet games for the Gophers, since I spoke to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, who had moved Hageman from a potential third-round pick to No. 22 overall on his last of top 2014 NFL draft prospects.

Today, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., held a conference call, so I spoke to him about Hageman's stock. Kiper had Hageman ranked No. 21 on his Big Board two weeks ago, but has since dropped him out of the Top 25.

The 6-6, 311-pound Hageman, who often gets double-teamed, and rotates in and out of each game quite often, registered just one tackle against Indiana and Penn State. He did swat down another pass against Penn State. For the season, Hageman has 29 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss and two sacks, in addition to seven pass breakups.

Here's what Kiper said today:

"He flashes [his potential] is what he does. Of course, you see glimpses of the big-time ability he has. He’s got incredible talent from a physical standpoint, and he can run. I’ve seen him pursue the sidelines and run like a linebacker, and he’s a big kid. I mean, this is a kid who’s got enormous potential. You coach him up in the NFL, improve his technique, and certainly in a rotation situation, he can be a very good player.

"I think he’s probably a second-round type of player now. He was on the Big Board; I took him off because obviously you don’t see that type of consistency from the first to the fourth quarters and the dominant performances like some of the other guys like say an Aaron Donald at Pittsburgh, who has 19 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.

"You’ve got guys out there that are just really taking over games, and [Hageman] hasn’t been able to do that on a consistent basis. But the flashes are enough, the physical ability. I think with the combine, when you stack him up against the other defensive tackles, I think it could put him in the second-round mix."

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