I never thought I'd say this, but one of the most interesting battles heading into Friday's first Gophers practice will be at longsnapper. The Gophers need to replace Jared Hartman, who was perfect on 67 punt snaps last year but is forgoing his senior year of eligibility after graduating and taking an engineering job.
Two returning candidates to fill the role are Payton Jordahl, a redshirt freshman from Perham, Minn., and Trey Hansen, a true freshman from Cedar Falls, Iowa.
On Thursday, the Gophers added another walk-on -- Chase Samuels from Phoenix Centennial. He was an All-State selection in Arizona and sounds like a great story. Like Jordahl and Hansen, Samuels has the requisite accolades as a high school long-snapper with national rankings, etc. And here's a quote from Samuels on the NSCA Athletic Recruiting web site:
"Not only was I diagnosed with leukemia at age 6, I began my football career at the same age. Childhood cancer has brought me though a rough road, but everyday I instill those qualities I learned over 10 years ago into my everyday life. I plan to take my college career and accelerate technologies in order to combat the overwhelming disease that tears families apart."
It's a great reminder on the eve of camp, that these aren't just football players going through workouts. There are some amazing stories underneath those helmets.