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.
Andrew Stelter, a defensive end from Owatonna, announced today on Twitter (@Steltz_78) that he has committed to the Gophers.
The 6-4, 247-pound Stelter becomes the sixth player in the 2014 class to commit to Minnesota. He had offers from Iowa State, Harvard, Princeton and Yale and was on Stanford's radar, too. Rivals.com lists Stelter as a three-star recruit.
Stelter had 12 sacks last fall as a junior for the Huskies.
One day after landing a top tight end recruit from Wisconsin, the Gophers football team got a commitment from one of the top centers in the country.
Connor Mayes became the fifth 2014 commitment for the Gophers. He is rated as a three-star prospect and as the No. 5 center in the nation by Rivals.com. He also has offers from Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Christian, Kansas State and Baylor.
The Gophers also made an offer to the No. 6 center on that list - East Ridge’s J.C. Hassenhauer. But he reportedly has committed to Alabama.
Mayes, from Van Alstyne (Texas) High School, is the younger brother of Alex Mayes, an offensive lineman who just arrived at the University as part of their 2013 class.
On Sunday, the Gophers received a commitment from tight end Gaelin Elmore, from Somerset (Wis.). He has offers from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State.
Gaelin Elmore, a tight end from Somerset (Wisc.) High School, committed to the Gophers on Sunday, giving them their fourth commitment for the 2014 recruiting class.
Rivals.com has Elmore ranked as a three-star recruit and the nation's 22nd best tight end in the 2014 class. He also had offers from Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan State.
The Gophers didn’t have anyone drafted this year, but three players have latched on with NFL teams as undrafted free agents:
* TE/QB MarQueis Gray agreed to a deal with the 49ers.
* CB Troy Stoudermire agreed to a deal with the Bengals.
* And CB Michael Carter announced today that he has agreed to a deal with the Vikings.
Also, GopherIllustrated.com reported today that the Gophers have received their third verbal commitment for the 2014 class. Steven Richardson, a DE from Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago, joins Minneapolis Washburn RB Jeff Jones and Kansas City Wyandotte QB Dimonic McKinzy on Minnesota’s commitment list.
I sat down with Gophers AD Norwood Teague this morning to get his thoughts on the football program with spring practice in full swing. Teague has been understandably busy of late, replacing men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith with Richard Pitino.
Asked what that move signifies for the football program, Teague said, “I think it shows we have high expectations, but when I look at football, I don’t know if anybody on this Earth has higher expectations for himself or his program than Jerry Kill. I mean, he is relentless. So the basketball change was difficult, but I think something had to happen. But with football, I mean, let me tell you something: Jerry Kill runs 100 miles per hour every day, and he has high expectations for himself, no doubt.”
Asked to describe his vision for a successful football program, Teague said it’s a team that’s “in the upper half of the league and competing for championships, and one that there’s an incredible amount of hope each year for our success and people seeing improvement. Not only the way the program is managed, but seeing improvement in recruiting and also -- this is very big for football -- seeing improvement in player development, and also your retention."
Asked how excited he is for this fall, knowing Kill’s track record for success in Year 3, Teague said: “I’m real excited, but I think we’ve all got to be careful about putting a number on how many games we think we should win to see progress. Building a football program is an art. And as long as I’m excited about what I see, which is what I am excited about -- his management of the program, his building of the program, doing all the right things behind the scenes, recruiting really well, developing our kids and making retention a big priority -- then we’re growing.”
Kill’s recruiting classes at Minnesota have ranked toward the bottom of the Big Ten, but Teague said, “That does not cause me any pause. I follow recruiting quite a bit, and ... football kids develop. They grow. A lot of football is growing into your body. And I am so confident and so impressed with Jerry’s group and how they evaluate. They trust their own judgment and I think that’s tremendous.”
Pitino’s contract allows him to spend up to $50,000 per year on a private jet for recruiting. Will Kill have access to a private plane now, too?
“Yeah, we’ll do that for Jerry moving forward,” Teague said. “It won’t necessarily be in his contract, but when appropriate, we’ll use those planes. They provide a lot of logistical benefits more than any type of luxury. To get our coaches from one point to another quickly, to see multiple recruits in one day and get them back for practice is invaluable.”
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