WILLMAR, Minn. – Gophers football coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday that he plans to work from the sideline this fall after working mostly from the press box toward the end of last season.
Kill was among the coaches who spoke at the first stop of the annual Gopher Road Trip, at the Willmar American Legion.
After missing the Oct. 5 game at Michigan because of a seizure, Kill took a two-week leave to treat his epilepsy. He coached the final seven games from the press box but returned to the sideline for the second half of the Texas Bowl loss to Syracuse.
“I’ll be on the sideline [this fall],” Kill said. “That’s who I am, and I think that’s best for our team. However, if we need to adjust something, [the coaches have] all been together a long time.”
Kill, 52, continues to drive to work each day, in a sign that he has been seizure free since last fall.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “I’ve lost a few pounds. I’ve been walking. [Associate athletic director Dan] O’Brien and a lot of people are trying to keep me in line. But the No. 1 person is me.”
Jones still not eligible
Jeff Jones improved his ACT score April 12, but the Minneapolis Washburn running back will need to improve it again June 14 to become academically eligible for the Gophers this fall, Washburn coach Giovan Jenkins said.
The June 14 test will be Jones’ last chance to gain eligibility for this fall. If he doesn’t get the right score, he might need to play one year at a junior college, before climbing to Division I.
Jones, ranked by Rivals.com as the nation’s seventh-best running back recruit, had a rough year academically as a sophomore and has been trying to make up for it. The NCAA uses a sliding scale to determine eligibility, correlating grade-point average with ACT scores. Jenkins said Jones won’t have time to raise his GPA enough to qualify, based on his current ACT score.
Kill noted the struggle another Washburn alum — Ra’Shede Hageman — had to become academically eligible. Hageman graduated in December with a degree in youth studies before the Atlanta Falcons made him a second-round draft pick.
“It’s a great story,” Kill said. “Now Jeff’s the next steppingstone, and he knows what he has to do, and he’ll get there.”
• Kill said he would have loved to see Tony Nelson, the four-time All-America heavyweight wrestler for the Gophers, try out for the football team. Nelson considered it, but he used a redshirt year in wrestling and competed for four years, using up all his NCAA eligibility.
• Add Alabama to the list of schools that have offered a scholarship to Cretin Derham-Hall defensive tackle Jashon Cornell. The Gophers remain interested but aren’t too optimistic. He recently told the Detroit News that he was leaning toward Michigan State.
• Head coaches aren’t allowed on recruiting visits in May, but Kill has 10 assistants on the road. In between phone calls with them last weekend, Kill watched closely as the Gophers softball team advanced to an NCAA Super Regional.
“The kids play hard; they’re a reflection of their coach,” said Kill, who texted that message to coach Jessica Allister. “She’s a competitor, she never gives up.”