Hartman: Record shows Kill's players are NFL-ready

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 23, 2013 - 12:32 PM

Fourteen from his Northern Illinois teams are in training camps.

One thing that Jerry Kill brings to the Gophers football program is that he can not only coach but can develop players into professionals. When NFL training camp opened, 14 players Kill had coached at Northern Illinois were wearing NFL uniforms.

On the other hand, the Gophers had seven players, coached and recruited by three different head coaches, on NFL rosters.

The list of Northern Illinois players who worked with Kill and their NFL teams: Pat Schiller and Martel Moore in Atlanta, Rashaan Melvin with Tampa Bay, Perez Ashford with Seattle, Tracy Wilson with the Titans, Sean Progar and Chad Spann with the Jets, Chandler Harnish and Nathan Palmer with Indianapolis, Alan Baxter with Pittsburgh, Doug Free with Dallas, Scott Wedige with Arizona, Larry English with the Chargers and Jason Schepler, who will be facing the Vikings this weekend, with the 49ers.

Now if you compare that list to what the Gophers have produced in NFL-ready talent you start to see why the Gophers think Kill is the man to turn things around. The Gophers have seven players in pro camps this year, with a nearly even split between players recruited by Glen Mason and players recruited by Tim Brewster.

That’s the big key: The Gophers had to use three coaches — including Kill working with MarQueis Gray — to get just seven players into pro camps, while Kill worked with or recruited 14 in three years.

From the Gophers there’s Dominic Alford, who is vying for an offensive line spot with the Browns and was recruited by Mason before playing under Brewster. Eric Decker has become a star with the Broncos and was recruited by Mason and played under him and Brewster. Brewster star recruit Gray is playing for the 49ers but at tight end after Kill converted him to wide receiver last season. Mason recruit Jon Hoese is trying to catch on at fullback with the Raiders. Marcus Sherels, another Brewster recruit, is aiming to keep his job as a Vikings punt returner and special teams standout. Mason recruit Matt Spaeth is injured but signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Mason recruit Adam Weber is trying to stick as a backup quarterback for the Buccaneers.

If you want a reason to believe that Kill is the right man for the job, look no further than his track record of producing players for the NFL at Northern Illinois.

Peterson needs work

Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was asked what kind of benefit will come from having Adrian Peterson play some preseason snaps against San Francisco on Sunday night.

“Well, I think it’s also for Adrian personally so he can exercise some of his preseason butterflies,” Musgrave said. “He’s been working very hard in practice, and it will help that he gets out there and gets the feel for the speed of the game before we go to Detroit [for the regular season opener].”

The fact that the few snaps Peterson will get this year are primarily for his benefit led Musgrave to discuss how he’s able to gauge the offense’s improvement when the team’s best player is barely on the field in the preseason.

“We want to keep him healthy, we want to keep him fresh,” Musgrave said. “He is coming off of his hernia surgery from the offseason so there is some consideration there. But in terms of assessing our other components of offense, [that is] not necessarily difficult. We know we have work to do in a lot of components, and the barometer in Buffalo showed we still have a significant amount of work to do, and we’ll have another good barometer this week, lining up there at Candlestick.”

Cap space for Twins

Depending upon how active the Twins are in free agency they could have one of the five lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball next year. Their payroll this year is $75,802,500, ranking 21st in baseball.

As many as five of their highest-paid players could be gone by next year: Justin Morneau, at $15 million, is currently second only to Joe Mauer in salary. He will either be gone next year or back at a much lower price.

Josh Willingham is next at $7 million, and he is frequently mentioned as a trade candidate. Mike Pelfrey is questionable at $4 million. Ryan Doumit makes $3.5 million and is also mentioned as a possible trade candidate. Nick Blackburn’s $3.5 million is also likely to come off the payroll as the team holds the option in the final year of his contract.

Jottings

• What is interesting about Forbes Magazine’s report on the values of the NFL franchises was that the Vikings, even with the prospect of a new stadium, are valued lower, at $1.007 billion, than the Bears at $1.252 billion and the Packers at $1.183 billion. And also surprising is the fact that the Lions, with Ford Field having been built in 2002, are valued at $900 million.

• There’s a fun fact about Mike Grant, in addition to Chip Scoggins’ interesting Sunday story about the Eden Prairie football coach. When former Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi rated presentations of candidates for the job that went to Brewster, the best one was by Grant. But Maturi just didn’t feel he could hire a high school coach even though it turned out that Grant would have certainly been more successful than the coach he hired.

• While Gray is the most familiar name on the San Francisco 49ers roster, another hopeful to make the team is Carter Bykowski, a seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State who played high school football at Eden Prairie. Bykowski is trying to make the squad as an offensive tackle.

• Gophers men’s hockey coach Don Lucia recently got a commitment from Rem Pitlick for the Class of 2015. Pitlick is the son of former Gopher Lance Pitlick, who played eight years in the NHL. Rem played last season for Shattuck-St. Mary’s and had 15 goals and 37 assists for the school’s U-16 squad.

• Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams on what first-round draft pick Sharrif Floyd is doing to stay prepared while his knee injury keeps him off the field: “The one thing that Sharrif is doing is studying tape, and paying attention out there on the field. He is listening to the veterans in terms of what they are saying, he is studying at home. He is doing everything that he is supposed to do to get himself back.”

 

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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