Staff Directory 6370506

Randy Johnson

College football reporter | Puck Drop
Phone: 612-673-7664

Randy Johnson covers University of Minnesota football and college football for the Star Tribune, along with serving as a producer for Puck Drop, the Star Tribune’s enhanced online hockey coverage.


Johnson also spent 17 years as sports copy editor/layout editor at the Star Tribune after five years in a similar role with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. From 1991 through 1995, he was assistant sports editor and Penn State football beat writer for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.
Recent content from Randy Johnson
Gophers coach Bob Motzko

Gophers men's hockey hires top assistant away from Ohio State

Steve Miller will serve as the Gophers men's hockey team's associate head coach after spending the past five years in that position at Ohio State.
Jaxon Howard, right, is the top-ranked recruit in Minnesota for the Class of 2023.

Cooper star Howard tells college choice tonight; U among 4 finalists

Jaxon Howard, the No. 1 football recruit in Minnesota, will announce his college decision on Friday at 6 p.m., during an event at Cooper High School.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson hurdles high over USC safety Chase Williams, left, and cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart when the teams played

Big Ten stunner: USC, UCLA join in seismic shift for college sports

Big Ten presidents unanimously approved the move Thursday night. The two traditional sports powers who had been mainstays of the Pac-12 will start conference play in 2024-25.
Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (front) and teammates signed autographs last summer in an appearance at Baldy’s BBQ in Lakeville.

Fans can get special access to U football players — but they'll pay

Gophers players are launching a fan-membership club with plans to split the money equally. Here are some of the things you can get by paying $199.
Gable Steveson went 85-2 in his Gophers career.

Gable Steveson named Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year

In addition to winning an Olympic gold medal winner, Steveson was undefeated for Gophers wrestling team and won his second straight NCAA championship.
Audience members listen to speakers during a celebration of life honoring Marion Barber III, the former Gophers running back who died June 1, Wednesda

Family, friends, fans gather to celebrate, mourn Marion Barber III

The former University of Minnesota running back, who died June 1 at his Frisco, Texas, apartment, was celebrated at a public memorial at Huntington Bank Stadium.
3M Arena at Mariucci

Former Owatonna goalie commits to Gophers men's hockey team

Zach Wiese has played the past two seasons in the Tier III NA3HL for the Rochester Grizzlies.
Marion Barber III, who was found dead June 1 in Texas, ranks fifth all-time in rushing in Gophers history with 3,276 yards and second with 35 rushing

Memorial for Barber is Wednesday at Huntington Bank Stadium

The Barber family also has started a scholarship fund in the honor of Marion III at the University of Minnesota's College of Education in Human Development.
The Gophers took the field for their 2021 regular-season finale against Wisconsin.

South Carolina receiver chooses Gophers over Ivies, HBCU

Tyler Brown had received 15 offers in recent weeks from schools. That list included Harvard, Penn and North Carolina A&T.
The Gophers took the field for their 2021 game against Maryland.

Gophers add two to 2023 recruiting class, get 1st commitment for 2024

A receiver from Florida and running back from Pennsylvania commited over the weekend, and so did Mason Carrier, a three-star linebacker from Detroit Lakes entering his junior year.
P.J. Fleck and the Gophers football program continue to benefit from their “Summer Splash” initiative.

Gophers land Pennsylvania running back, 16th commitment in 2023 class

The three-star recruit rushed for 1,697 yards and scored 31 touchdowns last season.
Chaz Lucius, left, played 24 games for the Gophers in 2021-22 before signing with Winnipeg. Cruz Lucius announced he’s going to Wisconsin.

Hockey star who committed to Gophers at age 13 flips to Badgers

Cruz Lucius played for Gentry Academy before joining the U.S. National Team Development Program. His brother left the U to turn pro in April.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck has 15 players committed to his 2023 recruiting class.

Shakopee athlete Monroe commits to Gophers football program

Three-star recruit Garrison Monroe is the seventh Minnesotan to pledge to the U's 2023 class.
Anthony O’Neal scored the Panthers’ first goal last Friday.

All-Black hockey team draws from all over U.S. for Richfield tourney

The Panthers — a team with 17 players from eight different states — competed in a Minnesota Showcase event last weekend.
Coach P.J. Fleck and the Gophers are putting together their 2023 recruiting class.

Gophers football gets two more commitments from 'Summer Splash'

Karter Menz is the top-ranked player in North Dakota and became the fifth player to pledge after 'Summer Splash' recruiting weekend.
The Gophers have added two new football recruits to their 2023 incoming class.

U adds Texas linebacker, Indiana tackle to 2023 football recruits

Latreveon McCutchin of Austin, Texas, and De'Eric Mister of Gary, Ind., pledged to coach P.J. Fleck's program after visiting campus during "Summer Splash'' weekend.
Maple Grove’s Sam Peters hauled in an 82-yard touchdown pass against Woodbury in the 2021 Class 6A state quarterfinals.

Maple Grove star first to commit to U on 'Summer Splash' weekend

Sam Peters, a 6-4, 225-pound tight end, helped the Crimson reach the Class 6A state championship game last season.
3M Arena at Mariucci will move away from the Olympic-sized ice sheet in 2023-24.

Smaller ice size coming to Gophers' 3M Arena at Mariucci

The home of Gophers men's hockey will drop from an Olympic-sized ice sheet to a hybrid size after the upcoming season as part of the university's capital improvement budget approved by the Board of Regents.
P.J. Fleck’s biggest recruiting weekend of the summer is here.

Hoping for a 'splash': Big recruiting weekend for Gophers football

The program's "Summer Splash'' weekend starts Friday and will bring in about 30 recruits, including Cooper star Jaxon Howard, and hopes to build on a solid 2023 class.
Gophers track team members Alec Basten, left, and Matthew Wilkinson are competing for the NCAA 3,000-meter steeplechase title in Eugene, Ore., this we

Gophers aiming to make splash pursuing national steeplechase title

Matt Wilkinson and Alec Basten took roundabout paths to become top contenders in a unique and physically challenging track event.
Gophers distance runner Bethany Hasz, left, here with her twin sister and teammate, Megan, will be competing in the 5,000-meter race at the NCAA Track

Gophers send 16 athletes to the National Track & Field Championships

The athletes will be competing this week in 11 events in Eugene, Ore.
Hutchinson’s Alex Elliott scored against Kasson-Mantorville in the 2021 Class 4A state final. Elliott committed to the Gophers as a linebacker.

Linebacker from Hutchinson commits to Gophers for 2023

Alex Elliott helped the Tigers win the Class 4A state championship last season and is the ninth player to commit to Minnesota's recruiting Class of 2023.
The Gophers are 26-11 since Joe Rossi took over as defensive coordinator in the 10th game of the 2018 season.

Gophers extend defensive coordinator Rossi's contract one year through 2024

The contract, pending Board of Regents approval, will pay Rossi $850,000 in 2023 and $900,000 in 2024, an increase of $50,000 both years. He'll make $800,000 in 2022.
Minnesota Duluth coach Scott Sandelin celebrated the team’s national championship in April 2019.

Minnesota Duluth gives men's hockey coach Scott Sandelin two-year extension

The three-time national championship winner now has a contract that runs through 2026-27.
Marlin Levison - Strib 10/16/04 - Assign #89988 - UM Gophers vs. Michigan State football. Michigan State wins 51-17.

Former Gophers, Wayzata football star Marion Barber III found dead

A star running back for the Gophers from 2001-04 who later played six seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, Barber died at age 38 and struggled during his post-football life.
Gophers pitcher Autumn Pease took a 2-1 loss to UCLA in last year’s NCAA tournament.

U softball faces steep climb, but thrilled to make NCAA tournament again

Minnesota opens Friday against Texas A&M and likely needs to beat Oklahoma, the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, to reach the Super Regionals.
NCAA softball schedule for Norman Regional

NCAA softball schedule for Norman Regional

The Gophers will face Texas A&M at 4 p.m. Friday in the double-elimination tournament.
Minnesota Duluth’s Sidney Morin, right, battled Wisconsin’s Annie Pankowski for the puck during the 2016 WCHA title game.

Olympic gold medalist Sidney Morin signs with Whitecaps

The former Minnetonka High School and Minnesota Duluth standout defenseman agreed to a two-year deal with the Premier Hockey Federation team. She won Olympic gold with Team USA in 2018.
Michigan’s Erick All (83) beat Iowa’s Riley Moss for a TD catch during the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game. Under new NCAA rules, FBS leagues don�

NCAA relaxes rules on football conference title games

Leagues no longer must pit division winners against each other, and the Pac-12 quickly changed its format. How the Big Ten will react remains to be determined.
Augustana will begin Division I men’s hockey play at Midco Arena in the 2023-24 season.

CCHA adding Augustana as ninth member when school starts hockey in 2023

The team will be coached by a former Gophers assistant and is joining the league that includes Minnesota State, St. Thomas and Bemidji State.
Joel Eriksson Ek lost some teeth in the Wild’s final game.

Banged-up Wild: Dumba's punctured lung, Eriksson Ek's missing teeth

Matt Dumba hesitated when asked about the injury that limited his effectiveness vs. the Blues; Joel Eriksson Ek lost three teeth to a teammate's stick.
Robbinsdale Cooper’s Jaxon Howard has received more than 60 scholarship offers.

Gophers among final four for Cooper football standout Jaxon Howard

The top football recruit in Minnesota for the 2023 class has Minnesota and three traditional football powers on his list of four schools.
Gino Cappelletti (15) looked to elude the Nebraska defense during the Gophers’ 19-7 victory over the Cornhuskers in the 1954 season opener at Memori

Former Gophers, Patriots standout Cappelletti dies

Keewatin, Minn., native Gino Cappelletti starred for the Gophers in the 1950s and the Boston Patriots of the AFL in the 1960s. He was 89.
St. Cloud State athletic director Heather Weems is leaving the school to become commissioner of the NCHC.

NCHC names St. Cloud State AD Weems as its new commissioner

She replaces Josh Fenton, who helped build the league and recently became commissioner of the Summit League.
Jennifer Flowers at her introductory news conference after being named commissioner of the WCHA women’s league in 2019.

Commissioner Flowers leaving WCHA to become AD at Southwest Minn. State

The Winona State graduate spent three years in charge of the successful women's hockey league.
Scott Perunovich of the Blues moved the puck with Wild center Ryan Hartman in pursuit on Sunday in St. Louis.

Blues' injuries create time for former UMD star Scott Perunovich

Defenseman, who won the Hobey Baker Award, wins praise for his poise, and contributed again Tuesday.
Gophers center fielder Natalie DenHartog, from Hopkins, has 18 homers going into the Big Ten tournament.

Golden slugger: DenHartog looks to add to her Gophers home run record

Nobody in Gophers softball history has hit more than the 57 homers that the Hopkins High School graduate has in her four years on campus.
Jenni Morrison of White Bear Lake posed with Goldy Gopher and a rare visitor to Minnesota’s trophy case — Paul Bunyan’s Axe — during a Coaches

'Get used to it.' Gophers coaches revive caravan amid big changes

Since the last Coaches Caravan in 2019, college sports have undergone monumental changes. "There's no putting the genie back in the bottle," football coach P.J. Fleck told fans.
Former Gopher Ben Meyers, left, of the Colorado Avalanche will play for Team USA in the IIHF World Championship. He is ineligible to play in the NHL p

3 ex-Gophers among 5 Minnesotans on U.S. team for world championship

The U.S. national team leaves for Finland on Saturday, plays an exhibition game against Canada on Wednesday and opens the tournament on May 13 against Latvia.
Blues defenseman and South St. Paul native Justin Faulk won the 2011 men’s hockey national championship with Duluth.

All business on memory lane for Blues' Faulk

The former Minnesota Duluth defenseman has an excellent record with the St. Louis Blues.
David Perron was greeted by the Blues bench after a first-period power-play goal Monday night at Xcel Energy Center.

Battle of special teams between Blues, Wild no contest in Game 1

St. Louis scored two power-play goals and the Wild was 0-for-6 with a man advantage despite having plenty of good chances.
The Gophers took the field for their 2021 game against Wisconsin.

Gophers get commitment from Prior Lake defensive tackle for Class of 2023

Martin Owusu, a three-star recruit, is the ninth-ranked recruit in Minnesota and the 141st-ranked defensive lineman nationally by 247Sports.
Gophers backup quarterback Cole Kramer, a fourth-year junior, gives the Gophers a running threat at the position.

Gophers spring game: Five story lines

The backup quarterback battle, under returning offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, will be among the things to watch.
Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II was in Las Vegas for the first round of the NFL draft Thursday.

Eden Prairie's Jermaine Johnson II drafted by Jets in first round

The defensive end for Florida State was among the top players at his position last season in college football. He was selected No. 26 overall.
Thomas Rush (8) returned an interception for a touchdown during the 2019 Gophers spring game, which was moved indoors because of weather concerns.

Gophers spring football game moved indoors due to weather

The game will be played in the indoor practice facility at 1 p.m. Saturday, and it no longer will be open to the public because of space constraints.
Gophers forward Chaz Lucius (29) celebrated after scoring against North Dakota in November.

2 freshman leave U hockey: Lucius signs with Jets; Broz plans to transfer

First-round draft pick Chaz Lucius signed a three-year, contract with Winnipeg and forward Tristan Broz put his name into the NCAA transfer portal.
Joel Eriksson Ek of the Wild beat Arizona goalie  Karel Vejmelka in the third period Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.

Wild, Blues battle for home ice. What Minnesota needs to win it

The teams are tied with 109 points going into the final two days of the season. Here's a look at the schedule and possible outcomes.
Kevin Fiala’s ten-game point streak ended against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.

Wild vs. Flames preview: The fight to claim home ice

The Wild have lost to the Calgary Flames in both previous games this season.
Former Gophers holder Casey O’Brien, here at his Mendota Heights home in 2020, revealed that he is battling cancer for a sixth time, and will have s

Former U holder O'Brien reveals he's battling cancer for 6th time

"It's not gonna let me off the hook that easy," said Casey O'Brien as he talked about facing lung surgery and another set of challenges.
Defensive lineman Boye Mafe got a hand after benching 225 pounds 21 times during the Gophers annual pro day before NFL scouts on March 16.

Former Gophers standout Boye Mafe burnishes his resume for NFL Draft

Mafe dominated in the Senior Bowl and performed well in several areas at the NFL Combine, opening first-round possibilities.
Offensive lineman Daniel Faalele ran during a three-cone drill during the Gophers annual pro day before NFL scouts on March 16.

Ending a drought: U to have first offensive lineman drafted in 16 years

Sixteen years, 185 games and six head coaches later, a long drought for the U is about to end. Daniel Faalele is certain to be drafted and one of his teammates could get taken, too.
The Gophers took the field for their 2021 game against Wisconsin.

Illinois prep tight end fifth to commit to Gophers football for 2023

The three-star recruit from Benet Academy in Lisle, Ill., will be part of Minnesota's Class of 2023.
(Left to right) Boye Mafe, Ko Kieft and Blaise Andries watched their teammates compete before NFL scouts at the Gophers pro day on March 16.

Nine from Minnesota to watch out for in the NFL draft

A half-dozen Gophers and three former Minnesota high school stars are among those who could be taken during the seven rounds of the draft.
Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan passed during an open spring practice on Saturday inside the Athletes Village football training facility on the camp

Gophers spring football practice puts emphasis on improving passing game

Return of offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca has quarterback Tanner Morgan feeling confident in early going.
The Gophers took the field before last year’s victory over Wisconsin.

Gophers receive commitment from Georgia prep CB Zaquan Bryan

The 5-11, 180-pounder helped lead Benedictine Military School to the Georgia Class 4A state championship last year.
Gophers forward Matthew Knies

Olympian Knies returning to U men's hockey for another season

Matthew Knies was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this past season as a freshman.
Ryan Hartman

Wild's Hartman fined $4,250 by NHL after Tuesday's actions vs. Edmonton

Ryan Hartman made a hand gesture toward Evander Kane that resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct fine.
Evander Kane of the Oilers and Ryan Hartman of the Wild fought during Tuesday’s game.

Wild's camaraderie on display when Hartman sticks up for Kaprizov

Ryan Hartman saluted his teammates for sticking up for one another after Kirill Kaprizov and Edmonton's Evander Kane mixed it up. Hartman said the fine for his role was 'well worth it.'
Gophers forward Ben Meyers

Gophers co-captain Ben Meyers signs with Colorado Avalanche

Meyers, a native of Delano, Minn., was highly sought after as an NHL free agent. He can play for Colorado right away but won't be eligible for the NHL playoffs.
Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim averaged 153.7 yards rushing per game in 2020. His coaches hope he can return to that form this season.

Despite departures, Gophers look promising at running back

Mo Ibrahim and Trey Potts are making progress coming back from injuries.
Gophers defenseman Brock Faber

Gophers defenseman Brock Faber announces he's coming back

Faber, a Los Angeles Kings draftee, is staying put, while Grant Cruikshank, Jonny Sorenson and Ben Brinkman have entered the transfer portal.
Minnesota State’s Jack McNeely (3), Sam Morton (6) and Wyatt Aamodt (7) stood by goalie Dryden McKay after the team’s loss to Denver in the NCAA m

A hockey title slips away, making more heartbreak for Mankato

A dominant two periods of hockey at the NCAA men's Frozen Four had produced a 1-0 lead for Minnesota State Mankato. Then everything went wrong.
Denver’s Shai Buium (26) and his teammates celebrated a goal by Ryan Barrow against Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay in the third period

Minnesota State Mankato sees NCAA hockey title dream disappear

Denver abruptly turned around the game, after trailing 1-0 to the Mavericks through two periods, with five goals in the third period, including two empty-netters.
Denver captain Cole Guttman lifted the championship trophy after the Pioneers beat Minnesota State Mankato on Saturday night in Boston.

NCAA men's hockey title game recap

Denver goalie Magnus Chrona goalie made 24 saves and kept his team in the game against Minnesota State Mankato.
Minnesota State Mankato’s Benton Maass (11) celebrated a goal against the Gophers in front of teammate Akito Hirose on Thursday in the national semi

Transfers helped both Mavericks, Pioneers reach NCAA title game

Three transfers at Minnesota State Mankato had a goal or an assist, or both in the national semifinals, while Denver had one transfer with a goal in the Pioneers' semifinal.
Minnesota State Mankato’s Ryan Sandelin and the Gophers’ Ben Meyers vied for the puck during the second period of their Frozen Four semifinal Thur

MSU Mankato's Sandelin savors rare chance to show off for his dad

Scott Sandelin, three-time winner of the men's hockey national title as Minnesota Duluth's coach, will see his son Ryan try for his first.
Minnesota State Mankato goaltender Dryden McKay, a day after stopping all but one shot against the Gophers, was getting the attention of the media aft

MSU Mankato goaltender McKay snags Hobey Baker Award

A senior from Illinois, Dryden McKay beat out a couple of Minnesotans, Ben Meyers of the Gophers and Bobby Brink of Denver.
Mike Hastings, hired by Minnesota State Mankato to coach men’s hockey in 2012, has the Mavericks in the national final.

MSU Mankato's hockey success spins from stealthy chat, pizza buffet

It began at a Pizza Ranch in Iowa, where coach Mike Hastings convinced school officials he knew the answer to "Why not us?"
Dryden McKay gives Minnesota State Mankato a record-setting final line of defense.

Frozen Four final preview: Minnesota State Mankato vs. Denver

The Pioneers are playing for their ninth NCAA title, the Mavericks for their first.
Minnesota State's Reggie Lutz (16) celebrates his goal with Jake Livingstone (23) as Minnesota's Blake McLaughlin (27) skates past during the second p

Gophers overwhelmed by Mavericks; Mankato to meet Denver for title

Minnesota State Mankato gave up an early goal, then tightened up its defense and unleashed its offense on the Gophers to win its 18th game in a row and reached the Frozen Four title game for the first time.
Bob Motzko’s Gophers will open the Frozen Four in Boston on Thursday night against Minnesota State Mankato.

Grief stays with Motzko as Gophers season helps him heal

Gophers men's hockey coach Bob Motzko thanked his team after it clinched a Frozen Four berth for all it has done to help him cope with the death of his 20-year-old son last summer.
Denver’s Carter Savoie gathered the puck to score the winning goal on Michigan’s Erik Portillo in overtime during the first men’s Frozen Four se

Denver overcomes Michigan in overtime, advances to Frozen Four championship

A goal by Carter Savoie on an assist from Bobby Brink propelled the Pioneers, seeking their ninth national title.
Game 2 recap: Minnesota State Mankato 5, Gophers 1

Game 2 recap: Minnesota State Mankato 5, Gophers 1

A pair of centers and a sturdy goaltender made up the three stars.
The Frozen Four began Thursday afternoon with Denver vs. Michigan warming up for the early semifinal.

Goalie coach Poderzay went from Mavericks to Gophers

He trained Minnesota State Mankato's goalies for six years before he joined the Gophers for this season.
Game 1 recap: Denver 3, Michigan 2 (OT)

Game 1 recap: Denver 3, Michigan 2 (OT)

Carter Savoie scored the winner and landed the first star.