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.
On Saturday at 4 a.m., ESPN’s national recruiting director Tom Luginbill was up studying videotape of recent Gophers commit Isaiah Gentry, a wide receiver from Cincinnati’s Moeller High School.
Luginbill tweeted about what he was doing, and this led to a quick exchange with a follower who has an Auburn logo for an avatar:
@ATL_JAY Yeah, good player too. Jerry Kill might be one of the top 5 coaches in CFB right now.— Tom Luginbill (@TomLuginbill) February 1, 2014
Two days later, ESPN held a media conference call with Luginbill, and I asked him to explain what inspired his tweet.
I used part of that answer in this story analyzing the class the Gophers are expected to unveil on National Signing Day. Here’s a longer version of Luginbill’s answer:
“Coaching can be defined in a lot of ways, but when you take a football team like the one [Kill] had this fall. You go through the off-the-field situation you had with the seizures and the epilepsy, you win eight-plus games with a roster -- and I don’t mean this to sound negative -- but that roster had no business winning eight games, and I think that’s a sign of coaching.
“In many ways, he’s like a Jim Grobe at Wake [Forest], when he had a great run there. There are guys out there that I don’t think get the credit they deserve, and [Kill’s] certainly one of them.
“And I think he’s in the process right now of enhancing the roster with more speed, more athleticism. It’s just not something you do overnight by waving a magic wand, it’s a process.
“All I know is, if you don’t believe in his process, then you haven’t been paying attention to his history because all he’s done is won.”
Note: Check back here in the morning for the latest Gophers signing updates, including the much anticipated decision by Jeff Jones at 10 a.m.
The Gophers added a third receiver to this year's recruiting class Monday night, when Conner Krizancic, from Mentor, Ohio, flipped his commitment from Cincinnati to Minnesota.
Wide receiver was a main position of need for the Gophers, and they have addressed it with three commitments in the past week. Krizancic joins Melvin Holland Jr. (from Ashburn, Va.) and Isaiah Gentry (Cincinnati Moeller), and all are ranked as three-star recruits by Rivals.com.
Krizancic tweeted the news:
Gary Moore, a defensive tackle from Mobile (Ala.) Murphy High School, has committed to sign with the Gophers after flipping from Southern Mississippi, according to Minnesota.247sports.com.
Moore is the 18th commitment in this year's class for the Gophers, who have up to five more slots to fill heading into National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Moore is 6-4, 285 pounds, yet can run the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds. He also had an offer from Northern Illinois.
This story on AL.com notes that Moore has a connection to the Gophers, as Murphy High School also is the alma mater of junior wide receiver KJ Maye.
Frank Ragnow plans to announce his college decision today at 3:15 p.m., at Chanhassen High School. The 6-6, 290-pound offensive lineman announced earlier this month that he had narrowed his choices to Arkansas, Minnesota and Florida State.
The final decision appears to be down to Arkansas and Minnesota, with Florida State having filled its offensive line needs in this class.
The Gophers first offered Ragnow a scholarship before his junior year and have made him one of their top priorities in this class. He is a consensus four-star recruit and ranks as the third-best prospect in this year’s class from Minnesota behind Minneapolis Washburn running back Jeff Jones and East Ridge center J.C. Hassenauer.
I will be in Chanhassen for Ragnow's announcement, so check back here for the news.
Former Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson is heading to Rutgers, his father, Pat Nelson, said today.
Nelson, who announced he was transferring from Minnesota two weeks ago, took an official visit to Rutgers on Sunday and also was considering Kansas State.
Bruce Feldman, of CBSSports.com, first reported the news.
Pat Nelson said his son also considered Texas Tech, San Jose State and San Diego State.
"Rutgers certainly fit the bill really well for Philip," Pat Nelson said. "And also, Ralph Friedgen -- it looks like he’s going to be coming on board [as offensive coordinator]. He’s in a real good situation there with a mentor who really understands the pro-style offense."
Philip Nelson will need to sit out for one year under NCAA transfer rules, but he'll be able to redshirt and still have two years of eligibility remaining. When an athlete transfers within the Big Ten, he typically loses a year of eligibility, but that rule won't apply to Rutgers until after that school officially joins the conference on July 1.
Nelson will enroll in classes at Rutgers on Friday and will be in spring practice this year.
The Gophers aren't scheduled to play Rutgers until Oct. 22, 2016. That game at TCF Bank Stadium will come during Nelson's senior season.
"Philip wants to make it really clear that he would not trade his two years he had with Coach Kill at Minnesota," Pat Nelson said. "He really likes Coach Kill and is very appreciative of the time he got to spend with him.
"Philip is a very pointed individual, and he understands where he wants to go and how to go about it. And I give him a lot of credit for basically being able to take a chance and go out there and be able to find the correct opportunities for him."
|Sports (4)||Football (12)|
|College football (572)||Bowl games (18)|
|Gopher coaches (101)||Gopher quarterbacks (76)|
|Gopher recruiting (53)||Gopher road games (23)|
|Gophers disciplinary action (13)||Gophers injuries (87)|
|Gophers on TV (10)||Gophers preseason practice (66)|
|Gophers recruiting (23)||Gophers spring football (67)|
|TCF Bank Stadium (8)||The Big 10 (67)|
|NCAA: football (7)||Gophers game day (112)|
|Gophers postgame (48)||NCAA (17)|
|Gophers awards and honors (25)||Gophers post season (11)|
|Gophers roster moves (18)||Coaching (44)|
|Gophers player capsules (13)|