There's an interesting story in the Fargo Forum about the tough decision James Johannesson had, choosing the Gophers over North Dakota State:
>For Johannesson, the 6-foot-1, 221-pound running back who amassed an amazing 6,198 yards rushing during his high school career at Fargo South, the lure of playing for a Big Ten program in front of 50,000 fans was too hard to pass up.
>But he said picking between Minnesota and NDSU was still a tough decision. Last August when he verbally committed to the Gophers, he had a hard time breaking the news to Bison running backs coach Tyler Roehl and head coach Chris Klieman.
>“I didn’t even want to tell them … I almost couldn’t do it,” Johannesson said Wednesday morning, moments after he signed his national letter of intent during a ceremony in the South gymnasium. “I felt like I was breaking up with my girlfriend or something.”
>Johannesson said he has no regrets becoming a Gopher – even after watching the Bison win a fourth straight national title last month.<<
How good of a player are the Gophers getting? Coach Jerry Kill sounded pretty impressed Wednesday.
"North Dakota, it seems like every time the Gophers have gotten a player from that area, they’ve been an All-American," Kill said. "James Johannesson being 6-1, 220 pounds, and he ran a 4.55 [seconds in 40-yard dash] at our camp -- a lot of people don’t know all that stuff."
Kill mentioned Bismarck native Greg Eslinger, the Outland Trophy winner. Another Fargo South grad, Justin Conzemius, was a standout defensive player for the Gophers and an Academic All-American in the mid-90s. (I'm sure there have been other standout North Dakotans, too. Gophers historians, please let me know in the comments.)
Update: Eric Peterson, with the Fargo Forum, reached out with a couple more names: Sean Hoffman, a linebacker from Fargo North who played for the Gophers from 1997-2000, and Neil Fredenburg, an O-lineman from Fargo South who played for Minnesota from 1991-93. ... Dan Kwapinski from Lisbon was a D-lineman from 1999-2003 (Hat tip @tikemanner).
"Maybe need to take one or two [players from North Dakota] each year," Kill said.