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 Gopher recruiting

Gant's late signing gives Gophers another receiver for their 2014 class

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: June 13, 2014 - 9:22 AM

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.

South Dakota lineman picks Ohio State over the Gophers

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: June 9, 2014 - 3:11 PM

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.

Twin brothers from Illinois -- a safety and linebacker -- are latest to commit to the Gophers

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: June 5, 2014 - 3:26 PM

The Gophers added twin brothers to their 2015 recruiting class Thursday, when Jacob and Julian Huff, of Bolingbrook, Ill., gave verbal commitments.

The 5-10, 205-pound Jacob Huff is a consensus three-star safety, and the 5-11, 220-pound Julian Huff is listed as a two-star inside linebacker in the 247Sports Composite.

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.

Chaska lineman Bronson Dovich becomes Gophers first 2015 commitment

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: May 30, 2014 - 9:17 AM

Chaska offensive tackle Bronson Dovich accepted a Gophers scholarship offer Friday morning, becoming their first commitment for the 2015 class.

The 6-6, 285-pound Dovich is a consensus three-star recruit and also had a reported offer from Rutgers.

Iowa has landed eight commitments for the 2015 class, Wisconsin has six, and now the Gophers are on the board. National Signing Day is Feb. 5.

Kill seeks recruits whose hearts are with the Gophers, says he won't beg others to sign

Posted by: Joe Christensen Updated: May 22, 2014 - 1:30 PM

WILLMAR -- Jerry Kill followed wrestling coach J Robinson to the podium Tuesday at the Willmar American Legion on the first stop of the second annual Gopher Road Trip.

Robinson had just delivered an impassioned speech, citing a time when he brought in some highly ranked recruits who turned out to be duds. He could tell from the moment they stepped on campus their hearts weren’t in it. From then on, Robinson said, he has sought out recruits who have a passion for becoming Minnesota wrestlers.

The results speak for themselves, as Robinson’s Gophers have won three NCAA titles, with another runner-up finish last season. Kill loves Robinson and referred to him again Tuesday as the toughest person he knows.

Later in his speech, Kill said, “We’re not going to beg people to come to the University of Minnesota. We didn’t do it at Northern [Illinois]. We didn’t do it at Southern [Illinois]. I want kids to want to come here.

“You start begging and doing all that stuff everybody else does to get them, it’s going to get you in trouble, number one. And second of all, if they don’t have their heart in it, you’re not going to win.

“And right now, we’ve developed a bunch of kids, and they want to win. They’re working hard.”

I’m not sure which recruits those comments could have been directed at. But I do know Kill’s staff is determined not to go through another Frank Ragnow situation, where they offer a local kid a scholarship and spend close to two years waiting on a decision, only to see him head elsewhere at the last moment.

Ragnow picked Arkansas after narrowing his other finalists to Minnesota and Florida State.

The top Minnesota recruit in the 2015 class is Cretin-Derham Hall defensive end Jashon Cornell. The Gophers have spent ample time and energy recruiting him, but he said earlier this month that he was leaning toward Michigan State. And now Alabama has offered.

The Gophers aren’t holding their breath.

They would like to sign Drayton Carlberg, an offensive tackle from Minneapolis De La Salle who has offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Oregon, etc. But before long, the Gophers are going to want to know if they’re in or out. And if they’re out, they’ll move on.

The same goes for Sioux Falls, S.D., offensive tackle Grant Schmidt, who also has an Ohio State offer. From all accounts, the Gophers still appear to be in very good position to land Schmidt, but Kill isn’t going to beg.

He wants players who are hungry and determined to keep turning around a program that has improved from 3-9 to 6-7 to 8-5 in his three seasons.

 “We had a good season [last fall],” Kill said. “I told [the players], ‘That’s great. We’ve done some things we haven’t done in a long time.’ But that’s not our mission. That’s not where we want to be, and that’s not where you [fans] want to be.

“We talk about doing one more. We’ve got to work harder than anyone else. That’s who I’ve been my whole life.”

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