August 2013 Archives


Sophomore forward, Allie Reinke, is a dynamic player and a talented graphic design student who is making a difference for the Gophers on and off the field. Here's your chance to get to a know a little about Reinke including her goals for the season, her favorite non-athletic building on campus and her "walk out" song!



Reinke Allie 01-11.jpg

Name: Allie Reinke

Number: 21

Position: Forward

Year: Sophomore

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Stillwater, Minn.


What about Minnesota made you decide that you wanted to be a Gopher?:

I grew up watching this team, coming to games with my club team and wishing that one day I could play for them too. I love being so close to the city and all the opportunities it brings as well as a fantastic education.


What is special/different about this specific team?:

We have a very new team this year and I think we meshed very quickly with each other. Team chemistry really makes a team become great, so I am looking forward to what we bring to the table in the Big Ten.


You've helped out off the field as well, how has working on the programs helped you as a player and as a soon-to-be professional?:

It has taught me a lot of the basics of editing in general. I like the challenge of staying within the brand and the behind-the-scenes look of what it takes to be a graphic designer.


When did you first start playing soccer?:

When I was 7.


What is your favorite soccer memory?:

Playing with my club team and all the crazy things we have done together.


What is your favorite local Minneapolis restaurant and what do you order when you are there?:

Wilde Roast in St. Anthony. I like to change it up every time I go.


How do you prepare/get pumped up for a game?:

Go to our team meal at Kafe 421, listen to music and relax in the locker room until the coaches come in.

The first weekend went well for the Gophers. How was it being on the field with the team for the first time?:

It is always so fun playing under the lights with all the fans in the stadium. It is nice to be able to settle in with the team on the field and pull out the win.


If you could give any advice to the younger players on the team, what would it be?:

Confidence is key... don't get frustrated when things may not be going your way, just keep working through it.


What is your "walk out" song and why?:

"Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore, I really like the intro and every time it comes on I just want to get up and dance.


What do you think is your biggest strength on and off the field?:

I think I am a very determined and have a good work ethic. These two things have helped me a lot trying to get to where I want to be.


What are you looking forward to most this season?:

Winning games and all the outreach Gopher soccer does. The volunteering is really fun!

What is your biggest goal for the season?:

Playing in the NCAA Tournament.

How has playing soccer at Minnesota influenced the way you feel about the game?:

Seeing how much people support and love to watch us makes me want to perform even better and has created a whole new aspect of fun while playing.

What is your favorite non-athletic building on campus and why?:

The MacNamara Alumni Center. Being a design major, I think the inside is really awesome, so I love going to events in there.

Who is your biggest role model and why?:

My parents, they are awesome and have taught me so much about how to live a happy life.



This weekend the Golden Gophers will travel for the first time this season for a match against the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa. I sat down with captains Katie Thyken and MacKenzie Misel to talk about their travel "must-haves" in preparation for the trip. Here's what they had to say about what they can't live without when they are on the road! Go Gophers!

Katie: 
  1. My orange crocks 
  2. My own bag of sour patch kids
  3. A CD case full of movies
  4. Either my panda pillow pet, Peter, or my Dalmatian stuffed dog, Max
  5. A deck of cards and possibly a cribbage board
MacKenzie: 
  1. Extra contacts/glasses because I have horrible vision and to be without them, especially during a game would be a tragedy for me. 
  2. My pillow/blanket. I am probably the only current player who cannot read/study on road trips due to motion sickness so I try to sleep the entire time. 
  3. Electronics and their chargers. (iPhone, iPad, iPod, computer)
  4. Nail polish/remover because I have to have my nails done.
  5. A good attitude. - Traveling can get stressful especially when you are in a group of 20+ and there is lots of equipment.

Defense and Special Teams Lead the Way

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By athletic communications assistant Michael Molde

After battling to a 16-13 halftime lead against UNLV by scoring a touchdown late in the first half, Minnesota was looking for someone or something to give it a spark in the second half.

That spark came from a guy with two surgically-repaired anterior cruciate ligaments, junior defensive back Marcus Jones. The speedy Jones, whose previous two seasons were ended by ACL tears, took the second half kickoff at Minnesota's 2-yard line and raced down the UNLV sideline for a 98-yard return for a touchdown.

"It couldn't happen to a better person, with what Marcus Jones has been through," head coach Jerry Kill said. "Two ACL injuries, and his return was well-executed. I think maybe one guy got his hand on him."

Jones' score was the Gophers' first kickoff return for a TD since Duane Bennett's 96-yard return versus Wisconsin on Nov. 12, 2011, and it stretched Minnesota's advantage to 23-13 just 12 seconds after the half.

Late in the game, Jones showed his speed again, as he made a touchdown-saving tackle on a 64-yard run by UNLV's Shaquille Murray-Lawrence. Jones gained probably 5 yards on Murray-Lawrence, who had broken through the middle and looked like he'd outrun the defense for a long scoring run. But Jones pulled him down at the Minnesota 11-yard line.

"He got out there (on defense) and made a heck of a play right away," Kill said. "They eventually scored, but he ran a guy down and showed that he could really run. It couldn't have happened to a better kid."

Midway through the third quarter, special teams played a role in another touchdown, as senior nose tackle Ra'Shede Hageman reached up to block a 37-yard field goal attempt by UNLV kicker Nolan Kohorst. Senior defensive back Martez Shabazz gathered in the ball at the UNLV 49 and returned it 51 yards for a score, giving the Gophers a 30-13 lead.

Go Gophers! Briean Boddy-Calhoun
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Boddy-Calhoun made his first career interception.
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"I think it (the blocked FG) was a big boost for us," Hageman said. "(Martez) Shabazz caught everybody off guard on the other team. He's been making those kind of plays all through practice, so I wasn't surprised by his play. I was able to get the block and then I pushed the ball forward and Shabazz picked it up. It was definitely a game-changer."

Then, early in the fourth stanza and with UNLV driving deep into Minnesota territory, junior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun stepped in front of a Nick Sherry pass attempt and returned it 89 yards for the third touchdown from the Gophers' defense and special teams.

Boddy-Calhoun's score made it 37-16, and the Gophers coasted to a decisive 51-23 win before a crowd of 44,217 at TCF Bank Stadium. In all, Minnesota's defense broke up nine pass attempts, blocked two other passes and came up with two interceptions.

Jones accounted for 149 return yards in the game, with 134 yards on kickoff returns and one punt return for 15 yards. The returns shaped the course of the second-half surge, as Minnesota outscored the Rebels, 35-10, after the intermission.

Nelson, Leidner Score First Career Rushing TDs

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By athletic communications assistant Michael Molde

Sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson made his eighth career start for the Golden Gophers on Thursday night, helping to propel Minnesota to its highest point total ever at TCF Bank Stadium.

The Gophers turned in a very successful debut to the 2013 season, soundly defeating UNLV, 51-23, before a crowd of 44,217. Nelson completed 10-of-22 pass attempts for 99 yards and a touchdown, while also leading the Gophers with 12 rushing attempts for 83 yards and two TDs.

Go Gophers! Philip Nelson
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Nelson ran for two touchdowns in the win.
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The rushing touchdowns were the first of his brief career, and the rushing total also topped his previous best of 67 yards during his first-ever collegiate game at Wisconsin last fall. With the speedy Nelson utilizing his feet, he helped Minnesota sustain drives, going 8-of-14 on third-down conversions.

Nelson gave Minnesota its first lead of the game, breaking free for a 48-yard run up the middle just 1:15 into the second quarter. Just seconds before halftime, he helped the Gophers retake the lead, 16-13, by lofting a touchdown pass to freshman tight end Maxx Williams with 0:18 remaining before the break.

"We knew we had to score at the end of the half. In practice, we worked a lot on the two-minute drill and I think tonight we executed it very well," Nelson said. "When we practice against our own defense, we have a tough time scoring on them in two minutes. I think we did a really great job finishing off the drive the way we wanted to."

In the second half, Minnesota received a boost from its defense and special teams, which combined for three touchdowns to break the game open, and Nelson added his second rushing touchdown midway through the final stanza to give the Gophers a 44-16 lead before giving way to redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner.

In limited minutes, Leidner made his mark, as well. The 6-foot-4, 233-pounder rushed three times for 25 yards and the team's final score of the game, plowing his way into the end zone for a four-yard TD run with 0:42 left.

It was an impressive performance from the Gophers' top two signal-callers, as they limited mistakes and displayed the type of run-pass threats that have been typical in head coach Jerry Kill's offenses.

Nelson's second pass of the game, a long heave down the Minnesota sideline, was intercepted at the 15 yard line. But he was able to avoid any further turnovers, while also directing a Minnesota offense that wasn't whistled for a penalty until the fourth quarter. The Gophers ended their season-opener with just one penalty for five yards.

"I think Philip, just by watching, has a lot of confidence, and the one pick he threw could go either way," head coach Jerry Kill said.

Overall, it was a heck of a start to the season for the Gophers' highly-touted QB from Mankato West High School, and it will give next week's opponent, New Mexico State, lots to prepare for.

#1 Day Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 1 Ernie Wheelwright and Tutu Atwell
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

One day more. Tomorrow is the day when Gopher football season truly begins. While you're waiting, here is one final countdown blog. Tutu Atwell and Ernie Wheelwright each wore No. 1 at Minnesota, and they will bring us down the final stretch until kickoff.

Atwell set Minnesota receiving records with 171 career receptions (now third) for 2,640 yards (now third). His 62 receptions in 1996 were a record at the time. That season, he scored a game-winning touchdown against Ball State.

As a senior in 1997, Atwell led the Big Ten with 2,073 all-purpose yards. One of his most memorable games came against Iowa State that year. He accounted for 349 all-purpose yards, with two kick return touchdowns and a receiving touchdown:


Over his career, Atwell put together a string of 34 consecutive games with a reception. He signed with the Detroit Lions as a free agent in 1998. Atwell did not spend long in the NFL, but his name is still all over the Gopher record books.

Wheelwright is one of the few receivers who has surpassed some of Atwell's numbers. He made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2004. He set Minnesota freshman receiving records for yardage (654) and touchdowns (7), which still stand. Rivals.com named him to its Freshman All-American Second Team.

Wheelwright has Minnesota's second-most receiving touchdowns with 26. From 2006 into 2007, he caught a touchdown pass in seven consecutive games. The streak included a 37-yard TD against Michigan State and a 64-yard TD against Iowa, both wins.

In 2007, Wheelwright was the second receiver behind Eric Decker with 775 yards on 66 catches, including nine touchdowns. He hauled in a career-high three TDs against Northwestern. In all, he had six multiple-touchdown games in his career. Wheelwright signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 before ending up in the CFL.

Bonus reading: Wheelwright had to earn the No. 1 jersey
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Go Gophers!Don Lucia
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Gopher Hockey head coach Don Lucia has signed on to run this year's Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon to help raise funds for Defending The Blue Line, a Minnesota-based non-profit that aims to provide hockey opportunities for military families across the country. 

An avid runner throughout the year, Lucia will take part in the 32nd annual event, set for Sunday, Oct. 6 with a start line near the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis and a finish line near the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. Lucia and the Gophers open the 2013-14 season the following weekend at Mariucci Arena with the Ice Breaker Tournament. 

"We have a great relationship with Defending The Blue Line, and I couldn't be happier to help out with such a great cause," Lucia said. "I've been doing a lot of training, I feel good about the run, and I'm excited to be out there in a few weeks raising money and awareness for Defending The Blue Line."  

Lucia and the Gophers previously helped Defending the Blue Line raise $25,000 through the online auction of the team's game-worn jerseys from the 2013 Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field in Chicago. 

Defending The Blue Line has been accepted as a Twin Cities Marathon Charity Partner for the 2013 race. Fans are can donate to Lucia's cause at the following link (DTBL.org

Gopher Volleyball At the State Fair

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Although the team is busy to prepare for its season opener this Friday, head coach Hugh McCutcheon and seniors Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman took time to head to the Minnesota State Fair, Tuesday, August. 27. The three, along with emcee Matt Nelson entertained the crowd on a warm and humid morning at the University of Minnesota building. In case you missed it, here's a couple photos and soundbites of their experience. What's Tori Dixon's favorite fair food? Find out in the audio link below.


What They're Saying - Aug. 27

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Gophers look to beat the heat (Pioneer Press), which could be extreme (ESPN1500), and the Rebels (GopherSports)

Ra'Shede Hageman's journey (Star Tribune)

Brock Vereen's family (Pioneer Press) will be there to watch him take on his parents' alma mater (FSN)

Teammates as roommates (Pioneer Press)

Look for the Gophers to run the ball (FSN)

Middle linebacker position getting settled (Star Tribune), with Lynn and Wilson both likely to play (ESPN1500)

"More seasoned" Gophers ready to get on the field (FSN)

Gophers prepared to go deep into lineup on Thursday (Star Tribune)

Your 2013 Gophers (Star Tribune) will face some unknowns against the Rebels (FSN)

Football team a "compelling bunch" (Star Tribune)

Athletes vs. Epilepsy looks forward to working with Kill (Pioneer Press)

#2 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 2 Jack Brewer
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

We're almost there. Just two days until the Gophers open their football season. Former No. 2 Jack Brewer represents those two days.

Brewer transferred to Minnesota after one season at SMU. During his time in the Maroon and Gold, he switched back and forth between offense and defense several times. Brewer played mainly safety during his redshirt sophomore season in 1999 before going back to wide receiver. He caught 22 passes for 280 yards as a junior.

As a senior in 2001, Brewer was once again a safety. Despite all the position changes, he put together an outstanding season. Brewer led the Big Ten with 155 tackles, 89 of them solo. He was named to the All-Big Ten First Team by the media.

Brewer spent time with the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL. Since then, he has become successful off the field. Brewer put his Minnesota bachelor's and master's degrees to use, founding his own advisory and banking firm called the Brewer Group. 

He is heavily involved in philanthropic work through the Brewer Group's Jack Brewer Foundation. In 2009, he received a Congressional Certificate for JBF's work in Malawi.

#3 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 3 Ron Johnson and Bryan Cupito
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Former No. 3 jersey wearers Ron Johnson and Bryan Cupito do the honors of helping with today's countdown to Gopher football. Both rank highly in the Minnesota record books.

Go Gophers! Ron Johnson
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Johnson is the Gophers' No. 2 all-time leading receiver.
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Johnson played receiver for the Gophers from 1998 to 2001. At the time he graduated, Johnson held Minnesota career records for receiving yardage (2,989 - now second), receptions (198 - now second) and touchdown catches (31). He still holds the single-season record with 1,125 yards in 2000. His 11 touchdowns that year tied a school record. Johnson put together an impressive streak of 46 consecutive games with a reception, which tied an NCAA record.

In Minnesota's 1999 win at No. 2 Penn State, Johnson had a key catch on the final drive that ended with a game-winning field goal. He starred in the Gophers' upset of No. 6 Ohio State in 2000, hauling in eight passes for 163 yards. Another of his career highlights was a 181-yard performance against Iowa in 2001.

Johnson was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2002, and played two seasons with Baltimore before spending some time in the Arena Football League.

Like Johnson, Cupito (2003-06) set several school records during his time as a Gopher. His 7,446 career passing yards and 55 touchdown passes were records until Adam Weber broke them. His pass efficiency rating (138.34) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (2.20) records still stand.

Cupito owns the senior records for completions (214), yardage (2,819) and TD passes (22). He recorded two four-touchdown games and four 250-plus-yard games in 2006. A three-year starter, Cupito went to a bowl game each of those seasons.

In the Gophers' Little Brown Jug victory at Michigan in 2005, Cupito threw for 139 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-23 passing before an injury forced him out of the game. Two games later, he accounted for a career-high 396 yards through the air.

Gopher Volleyball Holds Open Practice

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Open Practice Photo Gallery

The University of Minnesota volleyball program invited its season ticketholders, booster club and media members to an open practice at the Sports Pavilion on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013.

The Golden Gophers began practice at 9:30 a.m. in the warm Pavilion confines. It was the first chance for fans and season ticketholders to see the 2013 team. After warmups, Minnesota conducted scrimmages until 12:15 p.m. Following the scrimmage a meal was provided in the Williams Arena clubroom, where the Point U booster club as well as the season ticketholders were introduced to the Golden Gopher squad.

The Golden Gophers will also be out at the Minnesota State Fair on Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. A large contingent of the student-athletes as well as coaches will be on the U of M stage, located near the Food Building (at the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Streets).

Minnesota opens the 2013 campaign on Aug. 30-31, at the UAB/Samford Challenge in Birmingham, Ala. The Golden Gophers open the home season, Sept. 6-7, hosting Ball State, Duke and Western Illinois as a part of the Diet Coke Classic.

Gophers Look to Beat the Heat and the Rebels

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Going into the 2012 season opener, you might have expected the Gophers to face scorching weather in the Las Vegas desert. But it turns out that this year's Minnesota-UNLV game at TCF Bank Stadium could have more extreme summer weather than the 86-degree game time temperature in Vegas.

August in Minneapolis was unusually mild for the first few weeks of the Gophers' fall camp. Temperatures starting to pick up last week, and the heat and humidity are predicted to hold up for Thursday's game. 

Due to the heat wave, the coaching staff moved both this weekend's practices from the late afternoon up to the morning. Even so, the heat index easily reached the 90s during Sunday's practice.

"You don't want your kids worn out before they play," head coach Jerry Kill said.

Changing practice times and allowing plenty of water breaks are a few ways the Gophers are combating the heat. If the thermometer reads in the 90s at kickoff on Thursday night, Kill plans to go deep into the lineup so that the players on the field are fresh.


In case you missed it: Here are some sound bites from Saturday's media availability.

#4 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 4 Ryan Thelwell
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Ryan Thelwell (1994-96) ranks fifth all-time in career receiving yards for the Gophers. The former wearer of No. 4 represents the number of days left until the Gophers face UNLV in their season opener.

Thelwell and Tutu Atwell teamed up as quarterback Cory Sauter's favorite targets. In 1996, Thelwell set Minnesota's career receiving record, finishing with 2,232 yards, which now ranks fifth. His 1,051-yard total that season was then a record, and still ranks third. Thelwell led the Gophers in all-purpose yards (all receiving).

In Minnesota's 1996 contest against Ball State, Thelwell set a record that still stands when he gained 228 receiving yards. He did so on just eight catches, including one touchdown. Thelwell seems to have been especially successful against Ball State, as he hauled in three touchdowns against the Cardinals a year earlier.

The London, Ontario, native was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers but signed with the San Diego Chargers. He played in a handful of games in 1998, but eventually ended up in his home country playing in the CFL. Thelwell was a CFL All-Star and won three Grey Cups before his retirement.

#5 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 5 Billy Cockerham
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Gopher football is getting so close that former No. 5 Billy Cockerham could count on one hand (or on the back of his old jersey) the days left until kickoff. Cockerham (1996-99) started at quarterback in his last two seasons at Minnesota.

Go Gophers! Billy Cockerham
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Cockerham was one of the Gophers' best running quarterbacks.
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The program's No. 10 all-time passer, Cockerham threw 252-for-485 for 3,483 yards and 29 touchdowns over his career. As a junior in 1998, he came in late in the game against Michigan State and helped the Gophers to a comeback 19-18 win. Cockerham threw a touchdown pass to Luke Leverson, then ran 25 yards after an onside kick to set up a field goal.

His senior year, Cockerham set what was then a school record with 2,992 yards of total offense. His quarterback rushing record of 831 yards stood until MarQueis Gray broke it in 2011. Cockerham was the team's second leading rusher, and he reached the end zone 10 times on the ground. He passed for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns.

One of Cockerham's most memorable games was the 1998 upset at No. 2 Penn State. He racked up 277 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-24 passing. Most importantly, Cockerham led the drive that resulted in Dan Nystrom's game-winning field goal. His 46-yard completion to Ron Johnson, and a tipped pass caught by Arland Bruce, put Minnesota in field goal range.

Cockerham signed with a Vikings as a free agent in 2000, and spent time as a wide receiver on the practice squad. He went to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe in 2002.

What They're Saying - Aug. 24

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Botticelli an unsung hero for the defensive line (Star Tribune)

Coach Kill's changing attitude toward epilepsy (Pioneer Press)

In case you missed it....

Rick Reilly's piece on Coach Kill from Thursday (ESPN)

The debut of the GopherSports "Brick by Brick" web series:

What They're Saying - Aug. 23

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AUDIO: Kill

Football luncheon next Wednesday. Sign up today! (GopherSports)

Commissioner Delany was in town (GopherSports) and had praise for Coach Kill (Pioneer Press)

Kill's track record of developing NFL Players (Star Tribune)

Extended Delany thoughts (1500ESPN) and an injury update (1500ESPN)

More Delany (Star Tribune)

Nice feature story on Brock Vereen (Star Tribune)

Kicking competition heats up (FSN)

Bold predictions (Gold and Gopher)

Rick Reilly on Jerry Kill: "I didn't have time for cancer," Kill says. "I was coaching." (ESPN.com)

The responses have been tremendous....



#6 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 6 Da'Jon McKnight
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

With six days to go until Gopher football, No. 6 Da'Jon McKnight brings us today's countdown post. McKnight (2008-11) battled knee problems to become Minnesota's go-to receiver his last two seasons.

As a junior in 2010, McKnight led the team with 46 receptions for 705 yards and 10 touchdowns -- the third-most touchdowns ever in a Minnesota season. He caught 51 passes for 766 yards and four touchdowns the next year. McKnight ranks seventh all-time with 1,859 yards. Not bad for someone who didn't start playing football until his senior year of high school.

McKnight accomplished a feat no other Gopher has done. He recorded two games with at least three receiving touchdowns. The first was against Penn State in 2010, and the second was against Michigan State the following season:


In all, McKnight hauled in 15 career touchdown passes, good for a tie for fifth in school history. Despite his nagging knee problems, he started every game of his last two seasons.

Bonus reading: McKnight's journey

#7 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 7 Eric Decker
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

We are just one week away from kickoff. Former No. 7 Eric Decker, the Gophers' all-time leading receiver, represents the seven days left until Gophers vs. UNLV.

The Cold Spring, Minn., native broke Ron Johnson's record with 3,119 receiving yards from 2006 to 2009. His school-record 227 catches included 24 touchdowns (third all-time). Decker tied a school record with 11 100-plus-yard receiving games.

He tied a single-game record with 13 receptions against Indiana in 2008. Decker posted Minnesota's top two reception totals his sophomore (67) and junior (84) seasons. His 1,074-yard total in 2008 ranks second all-time.

Decker is a tough player, as you can see in the U of M physics video below. He got hit pretty hard in the Gophers' 2009 game against Cal, but still held onto the ball for this touchdown:



A foot injury ended Decker's senior season after eight games. The Biletnikoff and Campbell Award semifinalist did not get a chance to see what could have happened had he stayed healthy. But Decker did still earn All-Big Ten acclaim for the second straight year, along with high academic honors. He was both a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award and a Lowe's Senior CLASS Second Team All-American.

A good baseball player for John Anderson's Gophers, Decker opted not to play his senior season in order to focus on football. He was an All-Big Ten Tournament selection as a junior outfielder. He was picked in two MLB drafts, but ultimately chose football.

The Denver Broncos drafted Decker in the third round in 2010. He has hauled in 22 receiving touchdowns in his first three pro seasons, the most in franchise history for a player that far into his career. Decker was second in the league with 13 TD catches in 2012. In 2011, he made the highlight reels with a 90-yard punt return. This summer, he was one of a handful of Broncos featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Bonus reading: 2008 game program feature on Decker playing two sports

Mariucci Arena Celebrates 20 Years

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Ticket from the grand opening of Mariucci Arena (courtesy of Gopher Puck Live). 
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Yesterday, Gopher Athletics celebrated a notable milestone on campus as Mariucci Arena celebrated its 20th birthday. The home of Gopher Hockey officially opened on Aug. 21, 1993 with an alumni game and has been one of the premiere hockey facilities in the nation ever since. 

We dug through our archives and came up with a couple notable Mariucci Arena facts in honor of yesterday's birthday. 

-Since opening Mariucci Arena, the Gophers are 275-112-42 at their home rink -- that's a .690 winning percentage. Recently, Minnesota went 14-3-3 at Mariucci Arena in 2012-13 while the team is 31-9-3 on home ice since the start of the 2011-12 season. 

-Mariucci Arena is made of 256,580 bricks including 2,000 from Memorial Stadium. 

-850 tons of steel and 1,917,754 pounds of reinforcing steel were used during the construction of Mariucci Arena. 

-The refrigeration piping under the ice would stretch 11.36 miles. 

We also asked our fans to share their favorite Mariucci Arena memory with us...here are some of the top responses. 

What They're Saying - Aug. 22

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AUDIO: Kill | Nelson

Maye expects to contribute (Pioneer Press)

Watch for these new faces this season (Star Tribune)

Quick notes from practice (Star Tribune)

Wide receivers progressing (GopherSports), but still a question (ESPN1500.com)

Nelson focused and ready (FSN)

Receiving Corps Shaping Up

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There have been a lot of questions surrounding the wide receiver positions during Minnesota's fall camp, but the receiving corps believes it has the tools to be effective. While battling some injuries this August, the group is working to piece together some depth.

"We feel good about what we've got going on," Isaac Fruechte said.

Go Gophers! Isaac Fruechte
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Fruechte: "We feel good about what we've got going on."
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Fruechte and Derrick Engel, both transfers who played last season, are the team's most experienced receivers. KJ Maye played both running back and wide receiver last year, but will focus on receiver in 2013. Veterans Victor Keise and Logan Hutton have seen limited game action, but head coach Jerry Kill praised them for their work and leadership during fall camp.

The Gophers have Jamel Harbison back from last year's injury. They also have true freshmen Drew Wolitarsky and Donovahn Jones. Jones started out mostly doing quarterback work, but has begun taking more reps as a receiver.

Fruechte made his Minnesota debut at UNLV last year, making one catch. He foresees this year's opener being a lot different than last year's.

"I think we've changed so much since last year, since our first game," Fruechte said. "We're a different team now. We're bigger. We're faster. We're stronger. I think our offense will look different because of that. I think certain people's roles will be expanded."

Maye has shifted between different roles throughout camp. He has spent time in the slot and on the outside.

"I'm not intimidated at all," he said about lining up on the outside.

That is the attitude the Gopher receivers have taken about the season. Even though they have dealt with injuries, and even though they do not have a lot of combined experience, they feel they have what it takes to be a valuable part of the offense.

#8 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 8 Adam Weber and Asad Abdul-Khaliq
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Asad Abdul-Khaliq and Adam Weber both quarterbacked the Gophers during the 2000s. With eight days left until the Gophers take on UNLV, these former wearers of No. 8 do the honors of helping with the countdown.

Abdul-Khaliq (2000-03) ended his career as Minnesota's all-time No. 2 passer. His 6,660 yards still put him fourth on the list. As a senior in 2003, he set three Minnesota season records: pass efficiency (a Big Ten-leading 162.3), completion percentage (.632) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (3.40).

Abdul-Khaliq's toss to Jared Ellerson against Northwestern that season went for 96 yards, the longest passing play in school history. In 2003, he also threw for a career-high 388 yards against Iowa. For a time, he held the career records for touchdown passes (55) and total offense (7,818 yards). He ranks fifth in career QB rushing.

It was not an easy path for Abdul-Khaliq, as he attended a year of military school and then redshirted a year before seeing the field. He started a few games for the Gophers as a redshirt freshman, but did not start during the conference season or the bowl game in 2000.

Abdul-Khaliq regained the starting spot during the 2001 season, and then helped lead the Gophers to bowl wins in 2002 (Music City Bowl against Arkansas) and 2003 (Sun Bowl against Oregon). The Gophers' 2003 team MVP spent some time in the Arena Football League after his collegiate career was over. He was back on campus this spring for an alumni flag football game.


A few years after Abdul-Khaliq left, Weber came along and broke some of his records. Weber's school career records include:
- passing yards: 10,917 (third in the Big Ten)
- career total offense: 11,790 (second in the Big Ten behind only Drew Brees)
- total offense plays: 1,992 (Big Ten record)
- touchdown passes: 72
- completions and attempts: 909-1,594 (No. 2 in completion percentage: .570)
- starts at quarterback: 50

Go Gophers! Adam Weber
Go Gophers!
Weber won Floyd of Rosedale in his last collegiate game.
Go Gophers!
Weber redshirted 2006, then won the starting spot as a redshirt freshman. The 2007 season saw him set single-season records of 258 completions for 2,895 yards and 24 touchdowns. In each of the next two seasons, Minnesota made it to the Insight Bowl.

The duo of Weber and current Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker provided many highlights during the pair's years together. But one of Weber's career moments came in the year after Decker's departure. In his final start in 2010, the veteran QB led a late-game drive that resulted in a touchdown as the Gophers beat Iowa 27-24 to win Floyd of Rosedale.

Weber signed with the Broncos after college, and is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneerspractice squad.

Bonus reading:
- 2003 article: a week in the life of Abdul-Khaliq
- "Asad Abdul-Khaliq teaches life after sports" (Minnesota Daily 2012)
- 2010 blog: Weber wins Floyd of Rosedale

What They're Saying - Aug. 21

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AUDIO: Kill l Claeys

Depth at linebacker is always a good thing (Pioneer Press) even when it is raw talent (FSN)

Maxx Williams following in his family's footsteps (Star Tribune)

Boddy-Calhoun seizing the opportunity (1500ESPN) while improving the defensive backfield (GopherSports)

Goal Line Club host football luncheons (GopherSports)

Nelson gets the nod (Star Tribune)

Gopher Football Weekly with Jerrk Kill schedule has been announced (GopherSports)

Minnesota season preview (The Sports Network)

All it takes is one win (GoldAndGopher)



Boddy-Calhoun Part of a Deep Secondary

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Briean Boddy-Calhoun excelled at both football and basketball in high school. One day, his football coach asked him how many recruiting letters he had received for football, and he said he couldn't count them. His coach then asked how many letters he had for basketball, and he said he had received one.

"Reality hit me right there that I'm going to be a football player," Boddy-Calhoun said.

A junior cornerback, Boddy-Calhoun said that he likes going in on blitzes, but would consider himself more of a "finesse" corner.

"I like to get the ball in my hands," he said, like the basketball player he still is when he has the chance. During fall camp, he has gotten his hands on the ball several times. In a scrimmage last week, he snared two interceptions.

Go Gophers! Briean Boddy Calhoun
Go Gophers!
Boddy-Calhoun has impressed during fall camp.
Go Gophers!
Boddy-Calhoun played in every game last season after transferring from junior college. With an added year of experience, he is part of the secondary's increased depth this year. Boddy-Calhoun said he thinks the Gophers now have 10 or 12 defensive backs who can truly play well, as opposed to four or five last fall. The secondary has been called the best group of Minnesota's defense, but Boddy-Calhoun doesn't want to put too much stock into that praise.

"Of course we like hearing that, but we're just out here trying to compete against each other every day," he said. "I think we have a lot of depth, and we have a lot of competition going on. I don't think we like to sit here and say...we're the best on the team. But we like to carry ourselves like that and we want to push the wide receivers and push the tight ends and linebackers to just compete."

Compared to last year, Boddy-Calhoun is pushing himself more now. As newcomer in 2012, he was happy just to be there on game days. But now he is happier to be in the competitive mix for more playing time.

"It's like night and day, how much I've progressed and how I feel," he said. "I'm taking a different mindset because I'm ready and I'm more comfortable in the defense."

#9 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 9 Tony Dungy
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

The countdown to Gopher football has reached single digits. One of the program's most famous alumni, Tony Dungy, represents the nine days left until kickoff. Long before he coached the Colts to a Super Bowl title, Dungy led the Minnesota offense as a quarterback.

At the end of his career in 1976, Dungy held Minnesota records for passing yardage (3,515) and total offense (4,680), and was fourth in Big Ten history in total offense. He now ranks ninth in Gopher history in both those categories, and eighth in touchdown passes (25). Dungy earned All-Big Ten Second Team and team MVP accolades both his junior and senior years. The 1976 team captain excelled on and off the field, twice earning Academic All-Big Ten honors and winning the Big Ten Medal of Honor as a senior.


Dungy went on to play defensive back in the NFL, for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1977-78) and San Francisco 49ers (1979). He won Super Bowl XIII with Pittsburgh. In 1980, he started his coaching career as an assistant coach for the Gophers. Dungy then assisted three different NFL teams.

His first NFL head coaching job came with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he started in 1996. In 2002, Dungy took over as the Indianapolis Colts' head coach. He became the first African-American coach to win an NFL title when the Colts won Super Bowl XLI. He is also the first NFL head coach to beat all 32 teams.

Dungy retired in 2008, but has remained involved in football and in the community. He has written books, appeared on air as a football analyst and given his time and resources to various causes. Dungy was awarded the NCAA's prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Award earlier this year.

Bonus reading: 
- Dungy visited the Gophers' practice in spring 2012

What They're Saying - Aug. 20

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Which Gopher made this preseason All-Big Ten Defensive Team (BTN.com)

Two-game packs on sale now! (MyGopherSports)

From walk-on to leader of the defense (Star Tribune)

Will the Gophers get that signature win in 2013? (ESPN.com)

Former Gopher Marcus Sherels dealing with the loss of his father (Star Tribune)

Gopher Football Weekly with Jerry Kill premiers Aug. 27. Come on out! (GopherSports)

Covering the DBs (Daily Gopher)

Derrick Wells spoke with BTN.com last week (BTN.com)



Coach Carlson's First Blog: Getting Ready for the Season

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Gopher Golf Fans-

Preparation is in full force for the start of our 2013-14 fall season starting Sept. 4. As a reminder, college golf consists of 144 days of competition and practice with a break from Nov. 9 to Jan. 19. Other than the weeks around finals, all players condition for up to six hours per week and work with the coaching staff technically for up to two hours per week, even during this break. As many of you know, this means there really is not a break for college golfers as we are constantly looking to improve 365 days a year. August is a quiet month for recruiting but once September hits, we prepare for the rigors of college golf.

Our fall season will consist of six events this year. We will travel to the four corners of the United States looking for the best competition at every stop. Seventeen competitive rounds and 40-plus practices, along with a full academic workload, will allow the players just enough time to eat in Dinkytown occasionally and meet a few new college friends.

In my third full season as head coach, I have even higher anticipation for the start of this year as we have an experienced, solid nucleus returning from a team that nearly pulled off a Big Ten Championship in 2013, only to lose a close battle to the five-time defending Big Ten Champions, the Illini of the University of Illinois.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Illinois also finished runner up at the 2013 NCAA Championship in Atlanta...  

Our returning starters include Jon Trasamar (fifth-year senior and team captain), Alex Gaugert (senior), Tyler Lowenstein (junior) and Jon DuToit (sophomore). Also seeing tournament action in 2012-13 was third-year sophomore Charlie Braniff. The two remaining returners to our team are Genki Hirayama (senior) and Kyle Beversdorf (junior). 

My second full recruiting class at the U is something that our coaching staff is very proud of as it ranks highly in the Big Ten. We have four incoming freshmen coming in from all over the world. Jose Mendez (Costa Rica), Grady Meyer (Fargo, N.D.), Daniel Luftspring (Toronto, Ontario) and Matt Rachey (Waconia, Minn.) will all have the opportunity to break into the lineup throughout the year. I could talk at length about each of our returning players and incoming freshmen but our website, GopherSports.com, does a much more thorough job of explaining their credentials and background in golf.

Go Gophers! 2002 trophy
Go Gophers!
2002 NCAA championship trophy
Go Gophers!
I do want to touch on our team's biggest accomplishments in amateur events throughout the summer months. Winning is something that comes at the end of a process, as we often talk about as a team. We try to get our players in position to win as much as possible as it is the only true way to expose both strengths and weaknesses in golf. Having said this, our team has shown that our method will achieve results.

2013 Summer Results
*Jon DuToit - MN STATE OPEN CHAMPION, USGA Amateur Public Links Qualifier
*Genki Hirayama - MN PLAYERS CHAMPION (STATE MATCH PLAY)
*Jose Mendez - CALLAWAY JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPION, AJGA CHAMPION, JUNIOR WORLD CUP TEAM QUALIFYING CHAMPION, member of Costa Rican National Team
*Alex Gaugert - fourth place at Wisconsin State Amateur
*Grady Meyer - second place at North Dakota Class A High School State Tournament
*Jon Trasamar - USGA Public Links Match Play Qualifier, PINE TO PALM MEDALIST AND CHAMPION

It is very clear that I am proud of my current and former team members at the University of Minnesota. I display the National Championship trophy in my office along with our three team awards that are rightly named: Louis Lick Hardest Worker, 2002 National Championship Team Teammate of the Year and Tom Lehman Player of the Year.  We have many successful professionals doing well on their respective tours this year so continue to check our Twitter, Facebook and GopherSports.com pages for updated headlines.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone of some great ways to get involved in our program. 
  • Volunteer at the Gopher Invitational at Windsong Farm GC on Sept. 8-9. We are looking for walking scorers and help with live hole scoring and ball spotting.
  • Participate in the inaugural Gopher Men's Golf/Gopher Women's Hockey outing at Southview CC on Sept. 16. We plan to make this an annual event.
  • Donate to our team's service fund that will be used for large program expenses that will enhance the technology available to our team members.
With each of these opportunities, feel free to contact my assistant coach, Tyler Stith, by email at tstith@umn.edu or go to GoldenGopherFund.com.

Fairways, Fairways, Fairways!

John Carlson

#10 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 10 Paul Giel
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

In our last day of double digits in the countdown, we take a look at former No. 10 Paul Giel. The College Football Hall of Famer is one of the most decorated Gophers in program history.

During each of his three football seasons (1951-53), Giel led the team in passing and rushing. He threw for 1,922 career yards and rushed for 2,188 yards, 11th in school history. Giel still ranks in the top 10 in rushing touchdowns (20), carries (551) and 100-yard rushing games (9).

Go Gophers! Paul Giel
Go Gophers!
Giel was a two-time All-American and Big Ten MVP.
Go Gophers!
Giel was a two-time All-American halfback. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1952 and a close second in 1953. Giel was also the first two-time Big Ten MVP. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1954, but chose to pursue his other sport: baseball.

For Dick Siebert's Gopher baseball team, Giel was an All-Big Ten pitcher from 1952 to 1954. He earned All-America honors twice. Giel still ranks second in Minnesota history in career strikeouts with 243. His 21 complete games rank fifth and his 2.16 ERA ranks seventh.

Giel played baseball in the pros for six years, broken up by two years of military service. He also worked in sports broadcasting before returning to his alma mater for a long tenure as athletic director.

Giel was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975. In 1991, the U of M inducted him into the M Club Hall of Fame and retired his No. 10. The Gophers also put Giel's name on their team award for unselfishness and most concern about the U of M. Giel died in 2002, but his legacy lives on.

What They're Saying - Aug. 19

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Minnesota building a program Brick by Brick (GopherSports)

Ra'Shede Hageman checks in at No. 11 (BTN.com)

AUDIO: Coach Kill spoke after Saturday's mock game at TCF

Saturday scrimmage notes on Marcus Jones and Chris Streveler (Pioneer Press)

Who do people tell Donnell Kirkwood that he looks like? (BTN.com)

Two of Coach Kill's former players - and current staff members - talk about turning around a program (Star Tribune)

Each Gopher takes a different approach to social media (Pioneer Press)

Season preview (Chicago Tribune)

QB play will be critical for Minnesota (WDAY)

Breaking down the Gophers (Quad City Times)





#11 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 11 Walter Bowser
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Former Gopher Walter Bowser wore No. 11, and seemingly played that many positions during his time in the Maroon and Gold. The winner of 16 varsity letters during high school in Virginia, Bowser continued to display all-around athleticism when he arrived in Minnesota.

Go Gophers! Walter Bowser
Go Gophers!
Bowser came to Minnesota as a quarterback, but played several other positions, too.
Go Gophers!
Bowser, a 1968-70 letterwinner, spent some time on the Gopher basketball team before focusing on football. But cutting down to one sport did not mean cutting out all variety. Bowser saw action on both sides of the ball and on special teams.

He came to the U as a quarterback, but alternated between QB and flanker as a sophomore. During his junior year, he switched to defense and starred at safety for the rest of his career. Bowser not only returned kicks and punts, but also did some punting himself.

In 1969, Bowser made his first start at quarterback. In one game, he played both QB and flanker and returned kicks. He punted 33 times that season with an average of 39.9 yards. Bowser made the switch to safety during the year and tied a school record with three interceptions in his second game at the position.

Bowser was a Second Team All-Big Ten safety in 1970. When the Gophers played Michigan State that season, he picked off two passes and returned a fumble 82 yards for a touchdown. Despite not having even two full seasons as a safety, Bowser is tied for third on the Gophers' all-time list with 11 career interceptions. He was also the team's leading kick returner in 1969 and 1970, and the leading punt returner in 1970.

Bowser went on to become a lawyer and a judge.

#12 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 12 Thomas Hamner
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

With just a dozen days left until Gopher football, we look back on the career of former No. 12 Thomas Hamner. Hamner is Minnesota's third all-time rusher with 3,810 yards.


Hamner led the Gophers in rushing in each of his four years, 1996 to 1999. He rushed for more than 800 yards twice and exploded for 1,426 as a senior. That total is the third-best in Minnesota history. Hamner had a school-record 308 carries for those 1,426 yards, and he scored 10 of his 15 career rushing touchdowns that year.

Of Hamner's 15 career 100-plus-yard games, seven of them came in 1999, including a streak of five in a row. Hamner and quarterback Billy Cockerham twice had 100-yard performances in the same game.

Hamner was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team as a junior, and the First Team as a senior. He was then selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2000 NFL Draft.

What They're Saying - Aug. 17

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Big Ten Network stopped by practice yesterday (GopherSports)

AUDIO: Kill

Gophers getting closer (BTN.com)

Photos from practice yesterday (Instagram) and a lot of Tweets (BTN.com)

A battle at left tackle (1500ESPN)

Boddy-Calhoun has had a great camp (Star Tribune) and can play basketball too (Pioneer Press)

Coach Sawvel: "I want a guy who runs, I want a guy with length, and I want someone that has some toughness to him. He's got all three of those things." (Star Tribune)

BTN Tour Bus Visits Practice

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Photo Gallery

The BTN Tour Bus visited the Gophers' second practice of the day on Friday. BTN film crews shot footage of practice and interviewed a few players and coaches. Minnesota will scrimmage at TCF Bank Stadium tomorrow before having two days without practice.

See some of what BTN saw today through this collection of social media posts and pictures.
 

Tyler Hanson at the Legion World Series

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Incoming Gopher freshman Tyler Hanson is playing in the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. We will update the progress of Hanson and the Burnsville Cobras here during the tournament. Burnsville advanced to the ALWS by winning the Central Plains Regional. Hanson was the Regional MVP, batting .563 and picking up two wins on the mound.

Aug. 18

The Burnsville Cobras' season has come to an end, as they fell 3-1 to Petaluma today. Burnsville finished the summer with a 37-12 record, and was the second Minnesota team to make the ALWS in the past three years.

Aug. 17

Burnsville fell to Brooklawn, N.J., which is representing the Mid-Atlantic Regional. Brooklawn took a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning and ended up winning 8-1. The Cobras are still alive in the double-elimination tournament.

Up next: Burnsville vs. Petaluma (Calif.), Noon CT Sunday

Aug. 16

In the first game of the Legion World Series, the Cobras beat Napoleon, Ohio, 4-0. Hanson pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings. He scattered six hits and struck out five to earn the win. Burnsville scored all of its runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Up next: Burnsville vs.the winner of Northwest/Mid-Atlantic, 4 p.m. CT Saturday

#13 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 13 Bud Grant
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Representing the 13 days until kickoff is a former No. 13 who went on to a great career after his time with the Gophers was done. Although Bud Grant is best known for his Hall of Fame coaching career in the NFL, his athletic accomplishments at Minnesota are definitely worth remembering.

Go Gophers! Bud Grant
Go Gophers!
Grant wore No. 13 in football and basketball.
Go Gophers!
Grant was a three-sport Gopher athlete. For Bernie Bierman's football team, he was an All-Big Ten (at the time, All-Big Nine) selection in 1948 and 1949. The FWAA named him to its All-America Second Team in 1949. Grant spent time on both offense and defense during his Gopher career. In the Gophers' game against Washington in 1947, he scored a defensive touchdown off a fumble recovery, leading to a 7-6 Minnesota win.

Wearing No. 13 for basketball as well as football, Grant excelled on the court as he did on the gridiron. He was the 1948 team MVP. He was also a valuable member of Dick Siebert's squad on the baseball diamond.

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Grant in 1950, but he played for the NBA champion Minneapolis Lakers for a few years before eventually signing with the Eagles. He was a Pro-Bowler in the NFL, but switched over to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL soon after.

Grant's coaching career began when he took the reins for the Bombers at age 29. The rest is history. He eventually went on to lead the Minnesota Vikings to 11 division titles and four Super Bowl appearances, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1994.

Grant has remained connected to his alma mater. When the Gophers opened TCF Bank Stadium in 2009, Grant was an honorary captain for the game. That same year, he received the U of M's Outstanding Achievement Award.

What They're Saying - Aug. 16

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Biochemistry major and center Jon Christenson is a busy man (Star Tribune)

Scrimmage Audio: Limegrover

New video series: Brick-by-Brick (GopherSports)

Eureka! Philip Nelson (1500ESPN) and a freshman gaining notice (1500ESPN)

Meet long snapper Jake Filkins (FSN)

Two-game packs (MyGopherSports.com)

Scrimmage notes as the season nears (Pioneer Press)

Nelson's experience is showing (Star Tribune)

Legania's journey: from Hurricane Katrina to Minnesota (FSN)

The ESPN bloggers weigh in on the Gophers (ESPN.com)

Third-year charm? (Stillwater Gazette)


#14 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 14 Rickey Foggie and Marquel Fleetwood
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

With two weeks left until Gopher football, we bring you a double dose of quarterbacks. Former signal callers Rickey Foggie and Marquel Fleetwood both wore No. 14, and they represent the 14 days left before kickoff.

Foggie is the Gophers' last true freshman starting quarterback to start four straight years. The dual threat QB twice ran for 100-plus yards as a freshman in 1984, including a 153-yard rushing performance against Wisconsin. The Gophers capped off that season with an upset win over Iowa.


Foggie holds Minnesota's career records for quarterback rushing (2,150 yards), quarterback rushing touchdowns (25) and average gain per completion (16.8 yards). He ranks second in games started (42), third in pass efficiency rating (126.24), fifth in touchdown passes (34) and sixth in career yardage (5,162).

With Foggie orchestrating the offense, the Gophers made bowl appearances in 1985 and 1986, winning the '85 Independence Bowl against Clemson. They did not make a bowl Foggie's senior year, but did take back the Little Brown Jug from No. 2 Michigan.

Foggie, a South Carolina native, has made Minnesota his home. After a pro career in the Canadian and Arena Football Leagues, he began coaching. Foggie is currently the head coach at Park Center High School. He is still beloved by Minnesota football fans, and was recognized as one of the all-time "Gopher Greats" before a Gopher game last season.

Fleetwood came along a few years after Foggie's departure, and ended up surpassing some of Foggie's statistical marks. Fleetwood ranks fifth --one spot ahead of Foggie -- in career passing yards with 5,279. He saw action as a back-up in 1989 before becoming the regular starter his next three seasons.

As a senior in 1992, Fleetwood threw 192-for-385 for 2,168 yards, the 15th-best season total in Minnesota history. He twice threw more than 50 passes in a game, completing 35 of 56 against Pittsburgh. That year, Fleetwood also completed the second-longest passing play in school history when he threw to John Lewis for 94 yards against Michigan.

Fleetwood ranks fifth in career completions (465), ninth in completion percentage (.531) and 11th in touchdown passes (18). After his Gopher career, he spent some time in the Canadian Football League.

What They're Saying - Aug. 15

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Goal Line Club to host football luncheons (GopherSports)

AUDIO: Kill l Claeys

Filkins a constant on special teams (GopherSports)

Leidner continuing to improve (Pioneer Press)

Freshmen getting looks (1500ESPN)

Minnesota momentum (AP)

Tickets are available (MyGopherSports)

Edwards trending up and other news and notes (Star Tribune)

Friday nights to college heights: De'Vondre Campbell (News Press)


Minnesota season preview (Patriot News)

Filkins a Constant on Special Teams

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Jake Filkins learned to long snap in the backyard with his dad. Now he is practicing his craft on a bigger stage -- in TCF Bank Stadium and college football fields around the country. During a fall camp featuring strong competition for the kicking and punting jobs, Filkins is one of the few known quantities.

At the beginning of camp, head coach Jerry Kill said that he felt good about Filkins at long snapper and Peter Mortell at holder. Filkins is glad to have a steady role, but is more concerned about the unit's overall success.

Go Gophers! Jake Filkins
Go Gophers!
Filkins has taken care of all the Gophers' long snaps the past two years.
Go Gophers!
"It feels good," Filkins said. "But the thing is, as a specialist group, we're so close. It doesn't really matter who's in there."

As a freshman in 2010, Filkins was benched in a game after a bad snap on a punt. But when his replacement made a mistake, Filkins came right back in. After that school year, he gave up wrestling for the Gophers, which he had done in 2009-10 and 2010-11, to focus on football. During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, he took of all the long snaps -- for punts, field goals and extra points.

"We've had different kickers and different punters," Filkins said. "But the nice thing is, no matter who's punting or who's holding, we all really work as one. I guess that's probably the best thing I can say about what it's like to be a specialist. It's kind of the undesirable, the unnoticed position, but at the same time, we all embrace and we're all so close because of it. It makes it easy for me to work with anybody."

A few of the Gophers in the kicking and punting battles this fall have either had college game experience or been on the sidelines during the Gophers' games, so they have a sense of what to expect. Ryan Santoso and Justin Juenemann, the two freshmen currently practicing in that group, were more unknown.

"Going in, I was a little worried -- we all were as upperclassmen -- about what's going to happen and how we're going to mesh," Filkins said. "But they both have been great with us. They fit in nicely."

Filkins said that Kill does a good job of putting the kickers in high-pressure scenarios in practice. The Gophers have also set out a cone at 50 yards as a goal for distance on punts. Being a team player, Filkins said he has felt bad when punters have been criticized for inconsistency in recent years.

"For me, I'm just as much a part of the punt as the punter is," he said. "I'm the first half. I have to give a good ball. If he has a bad punt because of a snap that's a foot lower than it should be, then it's a reflection of what I do as well as him."

No one knows yet who will be kicking and punting when the UNLV game rolls around. But whoever it is will have a true veteran snapping him the ball.

Tyler Hanson to Play in Legion World Series

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Incoming Gopher freshman Tyler Hanson will play in the American Legion World Series after leading the Burnsville Cobras to a Central Plains Regional title. The Legion World Series runs Friday, Aug. 16 through Tuesday, Aug. 20 in Shelby, N.C.

Hanson was named MVP of the region after batting .563 in five games and earning two wins on the mound. He hit 5-for-5 with two RBI in the regional championship, helping Burnsville become the second Minnesota team to make the World Series in three years. (Eden Prairie won in 2011.)

Hanson will join the Gopher roster for the 2014 season. Before the Cobras' season started, Hanson ended his high school career with an all-state season. He batted .424 with two home runs, 20 RBI and 22 runs scored. He went 4-1 with a 1.20 ERA as a pitcher, striking out 45 and walking only four in 35 innings. Hanson played for the Metro East team in the Play Ball! Minnesota High School Baseball All-Star Series.

What They're Saying - Aug. 14

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Secondary aiming high (GopherSports)

AUDIO: Kill l Vereen l Wells

Vereen confident (FSN)

What's your excuse? (Facebook)

15 Days (GopherSports)

Will where the versatile Donovahn Jones play? (Pioneer Press)

Buy Tickets! (MyGopherSports.com)

Wells is ready for the challenge (Star Tribune)

Paper says UNLV at Minnesota is chance for Rebels to make a statement (Las Vegas Sun)

Key schedule stretch will determine Minnesota's fate (Gold & Gopher)



#15 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 15 Sandy Stephens
Go Gophers!
Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

The number of today's countdown, 15, is one of five retired by Minnesota football. It belonged to Sandy Stephens, one of the Gophers' all-time greats. The College Football Hall of Fame inductee played quarterback for the Maroon and Gold from 1959 to 1961.

After a 2-7 season in 1959, Stephens helped lead the Gophers to an 8-2 record, a share of the Big Ten title and a national title in 1960. Minnesota capped off the season with the program's first Rose Bowl appearance. The Gophers lost that 1961 Rose Bowl, but were still named national champions.

The next year, Minnesota got another chance in Pasadena. This time, game MVP Stephens rushed for two touchdowns and threw for 75 yards on 7-for-11 passing as the Gophers beat UCLA, 21-3.


Stephens was named a First Team All-American and the Big Ten MVP, and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1961. He was the first African-American quarterback selected for an All-America First Team.

In 1962, Stephens was drafted in both the NFL and AFL, but neither team that picked him wanted him to play quarterback. He did play quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for a few seasons.

Stephens died in 2000, but his legacy lives on. The U of M retired his No. 15 that year, and his name and number are on display at TCF Bank Stadium now. In 2011, Stephens was finally inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bonus reading: 
- ESPN blog post on Stephens' College Football HOF induction
- FSN's take on the induction
- 2000 Sports Illustrated article after Stephens' death
- 2008 Big Ten feature: Stephens dreamed of a Rose Bowl before he put on the M

Gopher Secondary Aiming High

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The Gophers' pass defense ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in 2012. Despite losing two of its starters, the Minnesota secondary does not anticipate any type of drop-off.

Go Gophers! Brock Vereen
Go Gophers!
Vereen: "To be the best secondary in the Big Ten is our goal."
Go Gophers!
"Mike Carter and Troy Stoudermire were great players, but we still have confidence going forward that we'll be a better secondary," senior safety Brock Vereen said. "To be the best secondary in the Big Ten is our goal."

Vereen is one of the secondary's top returners. He switched from cornerback to safety last year, and continued to grow into the position as the year went on. Vereen is even more comfortable in that spot now that he is in his second season playing there.

Junior Derrick Wells is another returning starter, although he will be at a different position than last fall. He moved from safety to cornerback, and is bigger than both the departing senior starters he will help to replace. Like Vereen, Wells anticipates the defensive backs continuing to build upon last year's improvements.

"I think we are more athletic in the secondary," he said. "We have a lot of speed, a lot of size."

Eric Murray's name has been tossed around as one to watch this year, but Wells also mentioned that Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Martez Shabazz have potential for good seasons.

Head coach Jerry Kill emphasized the team aspect of defense. The linemen, linebackers and secondary all need to be effective in order to truly stop opposing offenses.

"I think if the team gets better, the secondary will be good," Kill said.

With a veteran defensive line and some up-and-coming linebackers, the Gopher defensive backs are not on their own. And with the goal of being the best in the Big Ten, they certainly will not lack motivation and intensity.
 

Gophers Volunteer at Wing Ding

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Go Gophers! Community service
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
University of Minnesota women's basketball captains Rachel Banham, Sari Noga and Micaella Riche took time out of their busy summer schedules to volunteer at the 20th Annual Wing Ding: A Benefit for Tubman, which earned them a note of appreciation from the Tubman organization itself.

Each year, local Twin Cities restaurants serve up all-you-can-eat chicken wings and desserts to raise money for Tubman, which is the state's largest provider of domestic violence services. Special for all who attended the benefit, was that Banham, Noga and Riche were just some of the special guests serving them their delicious dishes.

To learn more about Tubman, visit their website at tubman.org, and for more information on its annual Wing Ding, visit wingdingfling.com.

#16 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 16 Rhys Lloyd
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Former No. 16 Rhys Lloyd represents the 16 days left until the Gophers take on UNLV. Now would be a good time to relive one of Lloyd's most memorable moments:


The 2003 Wisconsin game was not the only time Lloyd made a game-winning field goal. He also drilled a 42-yarder to beat Oregon in the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve that year.

A native of Dover, England, and a graduate of Eastview High School in Minnesota, Lloyd transferred to the U from junior college in 2003. He had an immediate impact, converting from 52 yards on his first field goal attempt as a Gopher. A few games into his Minnesota career, he took over punting as well as kicking duties and continued to do both through 2004.

Lloyd holds Minnesota's top two season totals for extra points, making 59 in 2003 and 43 in 2004. He ranks 10th in school history in career scoring (180 points) despite playing for only two years. Lloyd's two seasons rank fifth (2003) and seventh (2004) in scoring. He is fourth in field goal accuracy (.722) and tied for the fourth-longest field goal (54 yards).

Lloyd has been a member of various NFL teams, most notably the Carolina Panthers. He was the Panthers' primary kickoff specialist from 2008 to 2010, leading the NFL with 30 touchbacks in 2008.

What They're Saying - Aug. 13

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"Five Is One" is the goal for the O-line (GopherSports.com)

Audio: Kill talks after Monday practice

Receivers are confident (Star Tribune)

Keise hopes perseverance pays off (Pioneer Press)

Trap game? (ESPN.com)

Looking for that signature win (The Daily Gopher)

Three-point stance (ESPN.com)

Offensive Line: "Five Is One"

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Not one senior played on the Gopher offensive line in 2012. With no departing seniors, there are no automatically open spots to fill on the depth chart. This fall, a bigger pool of linemen are competing for the same number of spots as before.

Go Gophers! Caleb Bak
Go Gophers!
Bak is a returning starter for Minnesota.
Go Gophers!
"It's been a lot of good competition, which is great," right guard Caleb Bak said. "When you have competition, people below each other will help fuel people above each other. Competition is just naturally good."

Although Bak started the Gophers' final 11 games last season, he must still take the competition from his teammates seriously. At the same time, the linemen know they are all on the same side.

"Everyone's really friendly with each other," Bak said. "It's a very friendly atmosphere."

Junior left tackle Marek Lenkiewicz, who is competing with senior Ed Olson for the starting spot, echoed that sentiment. He said the offensive line's motto is, "Five is one." The line must work as a single unit in order to be effective. 

Lenkiewicz said that continuity within the group, being together with many of the same guys for the past few years, is important. Everyone from 2012 is back again with another year of experience.

"It's fantastic," Bak said. "It's something you don't get a lot. Most programs you're going to go into, you're going to have people who play only their junior or senior year. Here, we have a bunch of guys who played their freshman and sophomore years. We're coming in with a lot of experience, so it's looking to be a good year for the offensive line."

#17 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 17 Cory Sauter
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

With 17 days left until Gopher football, today's countdown is brought to you by Cory Sauter. A quarterback for Minnesota from 1994 to 1997, Sauter held multiple school records at the end of his career.

Sauter still holds a record with seven 300-plus-yard games. He also has the sophomore record for touchdown passes (18) and the junior record for completions (200). Sauter's career total of 6,834 yards now ranks third in Gopher history. He is now second in attempts (945) and completions (539) behind Adam Weber, and fourth in touchdown passes (40).

Sauter is tied for second in completion percentage (.570). His 7-for-7 game against Ohio State in 1995 ties a game record for accuracy. The list of his top-10 statistical accomplishments goes on and on.

A few of Sauter's favorite targets were Ryan Thelwell and Tutu Atwell. Watch highlights of Sauter and that duo below.


Sauter was named co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after passing 23-for-37 for 285 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois in 1996. Sauter completed a career-high 29 passes against Northwestern in 1995, and threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan State that same season. 

After his Gopher career, Sauter was on a few NFL rosters as well as playing in NFL Europe. He then started coaching and is currently the head coach at Southwest Minnesota State.

Bonus reading: 1997 game program feature on Sauter

What They're Saying - Aug. 12

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Scrimmage recap (GopherSports.com)

Scrimmage audio: Kill l Zebrowski l Nelson l Leidner

Nelson composed in scrimmage (1500ESPN.com)

Talking QBs after the scrimmage (Pioneer Press) but remember they are still young (FSN)

Edwards dazzles with speed (Pioneer Press)

Nelson, new faces shine in scrimmage (Star Tribune)

Coach Kill tackles epilepsy (Star Tribune)

Kill opens up about epilepsy (Star Tribune)

Catching up with MarQueis Gray (Minnesota Daily)

Athletic Gophers noticeable at scrimmage (GoldAndGopher.com)



#18 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 18 Antoine Burns
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

Antoine Burns wore No. 18 for the Golden Gophers from 2000 to 2002. The wide receiver transferred to Minnesota from Rochester Community College, where he was a junior college All-American.

Go Gophers! Antoine Burns
Go Gophers!
Burns is in the Gophers' 1,000-yard receiving club.
Go Gophers!
An injury limited Burns to three games in 2000, but he played in every game for each of the next two seasons. In his 27 career games, Burns hauled in 75 receptions for 1,006 yards and seven touchdowns. He is one of 22 receivers in Gopher history to pass the 1,000-yard mark.

The career of the Gophers' No. 2 all-time receiver, Ron Johnson, overlapped with Burns' time at the U. Burns was the team's No. 2 receiver behind Johnson in 2001, catching 30 passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns. The next year, Burns was again among team leaders, with 44 receptions for 526 yards and four touchdowns.

Burns signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent in 2003, and was picked up by a few different teams before moving on to his hometown AFL team in Milwaukee.

Gophers Scrimmage in Front of Fans

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On a beautiful Saturday evening in Minneapolis, the Gophers scrimmaged at TCF Bank Stadium, the last practice open to fans. The team did not play a true game with special teams, but instead ran series of plays with different sets of personnel. A good turnout of Gopher fans lined the field to watch.

Go Gophers! Philip Nelson
Go Gophers!
Nelson looked sharp in Saturday's scrimmage.
Go Gophers!
Philip Nelson and the first team opened the scrimmage with a touchdown on their first drive. Nelson went 4-for-4 passing for about 41 yards. Donnell Kirkwood also picked up some yards on the ground. Nelson connected with KJ Maye a few times, capping off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass.

On the first team's next series, Nelson completed both of his passes. His first incompletion came during his third series.

During Mitch Leidner's first few turns calling the shots, the Gophers ran more rushing plays than passing plays. Leidner tucked and ran several times himself throughout the scrimmage. He mixed in more passes as the night went on.

All five quarterbacks got into the rotation. Chris Streveler got around the edge for a long run that would have been a touchdown had the play not been whistled dead. Donovahn Jones played both quarterback and wide receiver, his first time lining up at receiver this fall. Fellow freshman Conor Rhoda connected with Jones on a long pass, but Jones was ruled out of bounds on the catch.

Another freshman turning heads was Berkley Edwards. On the first play of a series, he took a handoff from Streveler and blazed about 70 yards and into the end zone.

After two practices today, the Gophers will have Sunday off before doubling up again on Monday.
 

2013 Gopher Volleyball Season Underway

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2013 Gopher Volleyball First Practice

The University of Minnesota volleyball team conducted its first practice of the 2013 season. The Golden Gophers hit the Sports Pavilion court on Saturday, Aug. 10. Running in the morning, the Gophers held physical testing with their strength coach, Sara Wiley, while head coach Hugh McCutcheon ran the first practice of the 2013 season. 

The Gopher head coach headed into the season answering five burning questions prior to the start of the 2013 season. The short queston/answer session can be found here.

Here's a photo gallery of the first day as well as coach McCutcheon's audio interview afterwards.

#19 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 19 Benji Kamrath
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

*Saturday's scrimmage is open to the public. It begins at 4:40 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. at the Lake of the Woods entrance.

With 19 days left until Gophers-UNLV, Benji Kamrath represents the countdown today. He was a backup quarterback, but he saw significant action in a few Gopher wins.

Go Gophers! Benji Kamrath
Go Gophers!
Kamrath played the whole second half against Wisconsin.
Go Gophers!
One of Kamrath's most notable games was against Wisconsin in 2003. Starter Asad Abdul-Khaliq left the game with an injury at the end of the first half and did not return. Kamrath took over for the second half, completing six of 10 passes for 93 yards. He helped the Gophers get down the field to set up Rhys Lloyd's game-winning field goal on the final drive.

Kamrath played in 11 games his senior season, accounting for two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown. Previously, in 2002, Kamrath started in place of an injured Abdul-Khaliq and led the Gophers to a win over Northwestern.

His playing career ended after graduation, but Kamrath has stayed involved in the sport he loves. He is currently the head football coach at Watertown High School in Wisconsin.

What They're Saying - Aug. 10

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Saturday scrimmage open to the public (GopherSports.com)

Audio: Kill l Limegrover l Hageman l H. Ekpe

Scrimmage time (Star Tribune)

Gophers ready for first scrimmage (1500ESPN.com)

Last chance to see the Gophers before the season starts (Pioneer Press)

A loot at the Gophers (PennLive.com)

Minnesota searching for signature win (ESPN.com)



Saturday Scrimmage Open To Public

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The University of Minnesota football team will hold its first scrimmage of fall camp on Aug. 10 at TCF Bank Stadium. The doors at the Lake of the Woods gate will open at 3:30 p.m. for fans and the scrimmage will begin at 4:40 p.m.

Saturday's scrimmage is the last open practice for the public and media before the season starts in earnest on Aug. 29 at home against UNLV.

What They're Saying - Aug. 9

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Coaching staff's loyalty tough to break (FSN)

D-line looking to prove people wrong (Pioneer Press), says to expect "pleasant surprises" (FSN)

Cockran grows into his frame (Pioneer Press)

Rodrick Williams feeling more comfortable (GopherSports.com), working on blocking (1500ESPN.com)

Three kickers competing for spots (Star Tribune)

Defense trumps offense in goal line drills (1500ESPN.com)

#20 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 20 Justin Conzemius
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Gophers vs. UNLV (Aug. 29): Buy Tickets

There are 20 days left until the Gophers kick off the season against UNLV, so today we revisit the career of former No. 20 Justin Conzemius. He played for Minnesota from 1992 to 1995.

Conzemius ranks ninth in school history in career tackles with 317. He led the team with 113 tackles, including 70 solo, as a junior in 1994. Conzemius also ranks tied for 11th all-time with eight career interceptions.

One of his finest performances came against Purdue in 1993. "The Fargo Flash" intercepted two passes, recovered a fumble, recorded a sack and tallied 11 tackles. His 55-yard interception return for a touchdown gave the Gophers the lead, and they went on to win 59-56.


Conzemius was a true student-athlete for the Gophers, earning Academic All-America First Team honors once and Second Team honors twice. He also received the team's Butch Nash Award twice for being competitive both on the field and in the classroom.

Williams Making Progress

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In 2012 fall camp and in the early part of the season, Donnell Kirkwood emerged as the Gophers' No. 1 running back. But late in the season, freshman Rodrick Williams came on strong and showed that he could contribute, too.

"The last game made me more comfortable with the rest of the team," he said. "In the beginning of the year, I was kind of just running downhill, not watching. Last year it progressed."

Now a sophomore, Williams said he understands more about the importance of tempo and of working together with the offensive line. He is also expanding his game by learning the pass block.

"He's working at it," head coach Jerry Kill said. "Still got to get better, but he's working at it."

The running back group overall will continue to work on that skill--both newcomers and returners. Whiile Williams may still be learning himself, his year of experience does allow him to help freshman Berkley Edwards get used to Minnesota football.

"What's good is he listens a lot," Williams. "He actually tries to listen and learn the play instead of making excuses for other things."

Williams has been impressed with Edwards, and said that his speed could provide a game-changing contrast to Williams' and Kirkwood's pounding running style. Style differences--from those two to Edwards to David Cobb, Cole Banham and James Gillum--are Williams' favorite aspect of his group of teammates.

While these styles can complement each other effectively in game situations, some backs will still get more carries than others. Fall camp is a battle for playing time, and Williams is enjoying it.

"It's a competitive sport," he said. "Competition just makes the game fun.

What They're Saying - Aug. 8

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21 days away (GopherSports.com)

Audio: Kill l Murray l Cockran l Hawthorne

Sky's The Limit (The Gazette)

1,000-yard back? (FSN)

Camp news and notes (Star Tribune)

Hawthorne have a leg up on kicking competition? (Pioneer Press)

Hawthorne inspired by hoops assistant coach (Pioneer Press) and is kicking with confidence (GopherSports.com)

Reusse weighs in on #YEAR3 expectations (Star Tribune)

Rebecca Kill introduced Coach Kill yesterday at Dunkers (Pioneer Press)

Best case, worst case for the Gophers (BTN.com)

Pirsig cleared for contact (Pioneer Press)

Minnesota called a trap game for one Big Ten opponent (ESPN.com)


#21 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 21 Marion Barber III
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Buy Tickets for Gophers-UNLV (8/29)

With Laurence Maroney representing No. 22 in the countdown to Gopher game day, it's only fitting that Marion Barber III follows directly after at No. 21. During his final two seasons, Barber combined with Maroney to form a potent rushing duo.

Go Gophers! Marion Barber III
Go Gophers!
Barber in the 2004 Music City Bowl
Go Gophers!
Barber, the son of Gopher great Marion Barber Jr. and older brother of Dom Barber (No. 23 on the countdown), played three full seasons in the Maroon and Gold (2001, 2003-04). He surpassed his father's career rushing total and ranks fourth in school history with 3,276 yards.

Barber missed most of the 2002 season with an injury, but came back with an All-Big Ten season in 2003. In the Gophers' game against Ohio, he tied a school record rushing for four touchdowns. No one has equaled it since then. His 17 rushing touchdowns that year put him second on the all-time season list.

Over his Minnesota career, Barber ran into the end zone 35 times, No. 2 in school history. His 2004 (1,269 yards) and 2003 (1,196 yards) season rushing totals rank ninth and 12th, respectively. He surpassed 100 yards in 14 games.

Barber went to the NFL Draft in 2005, when the Dallas Cowboys picked him in the fourth round. He played in the pros for six years, and was a 2007 Pro Bowl selection. That season, Barber rushed for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns, and caught 282 yards' worth of passes for two touchdowns.

Bonus reading: An August 2004 feature on Barber and Maroney, who ended up sharing team MVP honors that season

Kicking with Confidence

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Who will kick for the Gophers this fall? That has been one of the biggest questions for the program as the 2013 season approaches. Coaches and players continue to reiterate that the spot is wide open, but senior Chris Hawthorne currently has an edge as the only kicker with college game experience.

"Chris has kicked at another school as a young player," head coach Jerry Kill said. "He's kicked here. He's been through a lot in his career. He can be a great role model, a great teacher for the young guys who come in. I think that whole group in general has worked hard, and he's done a nice job."

Hawthorne, who transferred from N.C. State before the 2011 season, kicked in seven games that year before suffering an injury. In 2012, Jordan Wettstein took all but two kicks for the Gophers. But still, Hawthorne remembers how it feels to kick in pressure situations.

"Somebody's got to step up and prove that they're going to take that job," Kill said.

Freshmen Ryan Santoso and Andrew Harte are Hawthorne's challengers. At 6-5 and 260 pounds, Santoso does not look like the typical kicker, and he can get quite a bit of power into his kicks. While Santoso is a scholarship player and Harte is a walk-on, Harte has also proven so far in camp that he belongs in the mix.

More than one of the trio could see action this season. Kill said he would consider using different kickers for field goals and kickoffs.

For now, the position battle continues. Hawthorne said that one of the keys to practice is putting pressure on himself. It also helps when teammates stand in front of the kickers and yell during field goals.

"Coach always talks about treating every practice like it's a game," Hawthorne said. "It's not about the amount of reps. It's about making reps count."

Hawthorne went to a kicking camp this summer, and also worked with a specialist coach. At the camp, he was one of the top performers in a field goal contest.

"It felt good, but at the same time, there's no pads on out there," he said. "There's no people flying at your legs. So it doesn't really mean that much. But just from a confidence perspective, it meant a lot."

Hawthorne, Santoso and Harte are all kicking with confidence in practice right now. Any of the three could take that first kick against UNLV on Aug. 29.


Good afternoon, Gopher fans!

Today as summer school winds down, we turn our focus on individual player meetings with each of our student-athletes. My plan is to review their academics and give them feedback on their basketball progress and what they need to work on this fall.
Go Gophers! Mav
Go Gophers!
Coach Pitino gives Maverick Ahanmisi straight "As" after the team's summer workouts.
Go Gophers!

Our staff met early this morning and gave each guy a letter grade in four categories. They were broken down into strength and conditioning, basketball, academics and attitude. Maverick Ahanmisi was the only guy who got A's all across the board. He got an A- in leadership only because we want him to be more vocal. Joey King also got the perfect score but received a B- in his attitude. He got the grade not because he has a poor attitude, but more because he needs to find a way to channel his emotions and energy a little better.

Many of our guys will go home for a few weeks before we start up school at the beginning of September. We plan to have all of our guys back in time to support our football team on August 29. I know Coach Kill and his staff will have their team ready to go!

The last two days we did two one-hour practices. The first 20 minutes consisted of skill work, and the last 40 minutes were controlled scrimmages. A major weakness of our team right now is our inability to communicate. Certainly this is understandable with a new coaching staff, but it is something we will focus on when they return.  It is impossible to get to where we all want to go without good communication.

Yesterday was a good day if your last name was Hollins. I challenged both Andre and Austin to play like two of the most feared guards in the Big Ten, and they answered the call. The summer allowed our players to improve their fundamentals and implement our fast-paced offense. We still haven't put in our press because we simply didn't have enough time or enough subs to go 5-on-5 for a long time.

The level of conditioning the players need and the foundation for how we want to play was laid this summer, but we all understand we have a long way to go. Every member of our staff is extremely valuable. No person has shown that more than our strength coach, Shaun Brown. He helped change a lot of our players' bodies as well as their diets all in a short amount of time. The intensity and commitment will certainly be turned up even more when they return.
Go Gophers! Dre
Go Gophers!
Andre Hollins will be relied upon heavily to provide veteran leadership this season, says Coach Pitino.
Go Gophers!

There has been a lot of talk about facilities and how to improve in these areas. I truly believe we have enough right now to compete at the highest level. Our philosophy is to always talk about what we do have, not what we don't have. We have an extremely passionate fan base, an outstanding university, a marquee basketball conference, a tremendous home court advantage and one of the most desirable cities to live in the country. I have all the faith in the world in our athletic director, Norwood Teague, and his staff to continue to improve our athletic department. We are absolutely headed in the right direction.

In the meantime, our goal as a staff is to make the best of the situation at hand right now. When I first took the job, I didn't like how spread out our players' days were around campus. We practiced, lifted and studied in different buildings. We knew that we had to make a change to make it easier on our players.  With the current changes we are making we feel we have done that. We are excited to say that a dividing wall has been put up in the Bierman Athletic Building. By doing this we have essentially created a practice gym for our guys. Our players can now practice, lift and get academic support under one roof.

We plan to practice often and do individual instruction on the Bierman practice court. We are also putting brand new state-of-the-art strength and conditioning equipment in the upstairs weight room at Bierman. This fall, a typical day for our players will be individuals and weights in the morning, then study hall in our academic center -- all at Bierman. Then they head to class and practice later in the afternoon at Williams Arena.

Many coaches take a week or two in August to take a vacation somewhere before school starts back up. My family has chosen to stay in Minnesota this year. We decided to do this because I don't think there are many better places to be than Minnesota in the summer time! Our staff will get together over the next week and continue to game plan in recruiting for potential visits as well as solidifying our recruiting schedule in September.    

Go Gophers!
Richard Pitino

Eyes on Sweden: Brady Skjei Blog

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Go Gophers! TopTen
Go Gophers!Brady Skjei
Go Gophers!
On March 23, 2013, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was named the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. With Lucia behind the bench, the Red, White and Blue will compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014, in Malmo, Sweden. 

In addition to Lucia, five current Gophers are competing for a roster spot on next year's U.S. squad. Sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei, freshman forward Hudson Fasching, freshman forward Taylor Cammarata and freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski are currently participating at the 2013 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid. Freshman defenseman Tommy Vannelli is also in the hunt for a roster spot for the U.S. team. 

Next year, the U.S. program will seek its fourth medal in five years including a gold-medal performance in 2013 with Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly on the roster and assistant coach Grant Potulny on staff. As the tournament approaches, Gophersports.com will provide updates using "Eyes on Sweden".

---------------------------------

Editor's Note: Gophers sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei will contribute periodic blogs throughout the National Junior Evaluation Camp. In his first report, Skjei brings us up to speed with the first few days of camp. 

"Greetings from Lake Placid, 

We're a couple days into camp now, and so far things have gone really well. Having the experience from last year has been really helpful for me personally, and I'm doing my best to help out the new guys. So far, we've had a couple good practices/scrimmages, and I am pleased with my play so far.  I am trying to make the game simple and be a strong, shut-down guy but also jump up in the play once in a while.  

One of the best parts of the camp has been getting to know the other guys in camp and hanging out off the ice. All of the other Gopher guys have been playing strong too, and it's nice getting to know them more while we are out here.  

We had the first round of cuts yesterday, so we're down to around 30 guys. It's difficult because everyone is here for the same reason -- to help the U.S. win, and you don't want anyone to have to go home. But it's part of the game. At this point, we're all used to it, and you just move on one way or the other. For me personally, I'm just trying to work hard and compete and do what ever i can to make the team. 

One thing that everyone in Minnesota might enjoy knowing is how much respect everyone here has for Coach Lucia and the staff. 

We have a game today against Sweden, so I better wrap this up and start getting ready. Hope everybody is enjoying summer back home." 



What They're Saying - Aug. 7

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Full pads, almost full go (GopherSports.com)

AUDIO: Kill l Christenson

Damien Wilson looking to earn that spot at middle linebacker (Star Tribune)

Ra'Shede Hageman ranked the 15th best player in the Big Ten (ESPN.com)

Buy tickets! (MyGopherSports.com)

One word keeps coming up to describe the secondary and it is "athletic" (Minnesota Daily)

Josh Campion's journey to becoming a Gopher (Pioneer Press)

Gophers to keep an eye on (CBSSports.com)

Harbison working his way back (1500ESPN.com)

Wideouts do not have a lot of experience, but there is a lot of competition (FSN)







#22 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! Tyrone Carter and Laurence Maroney
Go Gophers!

Buy Tickets for Gophers-UNLV (8/29)

No. 22 has been one of the best numbers in Minnesota football history, as Tyrone Carter and Laurence Maroney are among those to have worn it. With 22 days remaining before the season opener, we look back on the careers of a pair of Gopher greats.

Carter, a safety for the Gophers from 1996 to 1999, has collected a lot of hardware over the years. He won the 1999 Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country, and was a First Team All-American as a junior and senior.

An M Club Hall of Famer, Carter holds the school record for career tackles with 528. His junior (158), senior (144) and sophomore (143) seasons rank third, tied for sixth and eighth, respectively. Carter set a record with two fumble returns for touchdowns in his third college game, against Syracuse in 1996.


After his senior season, during which he was a team captain, Carter was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round. He went on to win two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 and 2008. Carter is now retired from the NFL and remains connected to the Gopher football program.

A few years after Carter's departure from the U, Maroney arrived and took on No. 22. Like Carter, Maroney made an immediate impact. Sharing carries with Marion Barber III, the running back set a Minnesota freshman record with 10 rushing touchdowns in 2003.

Maroney's season rushing totals increased each year, and he ranks second all-time with 3,933 career yards in three seasons. His 2005 total of 1,464 yards as a junior is a season record. He rushed for 100-plus yards 21 times. His three games of 200 yards or more put him in a tie for a school record. Maroney rattled off a record-setting streak of seven consecutive 100-yard games from 2003 to 2004.

Maroney and Barber rushed for 100 yards in the same game eight times during their two seasons together. They helped run the Gophers into bowl appearances in both 2003 and 2004, and Maroney also played in a bowl game in 2005. Against Wisconsin in 2005, Maroney rattled off a 93-yard run, the second-longest in school history.

A two-time All-Big Ten First Team selection, Maroney was also named a First Team All-American by Rivals.com in 2005. He left for the NFL Draft after his junior year, and went to the New England Patriots in the first round. Maroney spent four seasons in New England, and played for the Denver Broncos in 2010.

Gophers Put on the Pads

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The Gophers are still only playing against themselves in practice, but they took another step closer to the real thing on Tuesday. The fifth practice of fall camp was their first wearing full pads.

Some Gophers said they felt a different atmosphere wearing full equipment. For others, it was not as much of a change.

"We've been in shells the last two days, so it's really not a huge difference," running back Donnell Kirkwood said. "We have pants on, but it's still 'thud.' We're not going full."

Kirkwood looks forward to the first practice when plays will be allowed to continue until an actual tackle.

"When that day comes, the level of excitement increases. It's more of a competition when you get to go full out."

#23 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 23 Dom Barber
Go Gophers!

With 23 days until the Gophers kick off against UNLV, Dom Barber represents today's countdown number. The safety continued a family tradition by lettering as a true freshman, and grew into one of the team's best players as his career progressed.

Go Gophers! 23 Dom Barber
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Barber as a senior in 2007
Go Gophers!

Like his father, Marion Barber Jr., and his brother, Marion III, Dom Barber earned a varsity 'M' in his first year as a Golden Gopher. Unlike them, he played safety instead of running back. He played in 21 games his first two years, but did not start until 2006.

Barber then started 12 of 13 games and led the team with four interceptions as a junior. He made 74 tackles, broke up four passes, forced two fumbles and recovered one. Barber was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten.

He stepped it up even more as a senior. A leader of the Gopher defense, Barber tallied a team-best 100 tackles (71 solo) and broke up eight passes in 2007. He added a 46-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Michigan.

Barber was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team, and received the team's Bronko Nagurski (MVP) and Carl Eller (outstanding defensive player) Awards. The Houston Texans drafted him in 2008, and he played in 25 games during the first two of his four years with the squad.

Hint: Look for Barber's older brother later in the countdown!

Eyes on Sweden: Four Gophers Make Cut

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On March 23, 2013, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was named the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. With Lucia behind the bench, the Red, White and Blue will compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014, in Malmo, Sweden. 

In addition to Lucia, five current Gophers are competing for a roster spot on next year's U.S. squad. Sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei, freshman forward Hudson Fasching, freshman forward Taylor Cammarata, freshman defenseman Tommy Vannelli and freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski are currently participating at the 2013 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid. 

Next year, the U.S. program will seek its fourth medal in five years including a gold-medal performance in 2013 with Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly on the roster and assistant coach Grant Potulny on staff. As the tournament approaches, Gophersports.com will provide updates under using "Eyes on Sweden."to a spot to be kept and other guys we just want to get a better read." 

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USA Hockey trimmed the National Junior Evaluation Camp roster from 44 players down to 31 earlier this morning with four Gophers making the cut for the final week of camp. 

Defensemen Brady Skjei and Michael Brodzinski and forwards Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching are among the players who made the cut and will take on Canada (Sat.), Finland (Thurs.) and Sweden (Wed.) later this week. 

"The whole point is for us as a staff to have the best evaluation and the best reads on these kids at the end of the week. Even though some kids are getting sent home doesn't mean they aren't candidates to make the team," Lucia said. "Certain guys have played their way to a spot to be kept and other guys we just want to get a better read." 

What They're Saying - Aug. 6

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Roland Johnson is back... (GopherSports.com)

...and he is 100 percent... (1500ESPN.com)

...which should boost the defensive line (Star Tribune)

Coach Kill was on with Judd and Dubay yesterday morning (1500ESPN)

A look at Minnesota's schedule (ESPN.com)

AUDIO from practice No. 4: Kill l Miller l Thompson

Will Minnesota play two QBs in 2013? (FSN)

Gophers bouncing back from injuries (Pioneer Press)


Roland Johnson Ready to Go

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Even though he technically came in off the bench, head coach Jerry Kill considered Roland Johnson a starter on the defensive line in 2012. Johnson most apparently showed his value to the team when he made a career-high seven tackles in the Gophers' win at Illinois last season. 

Unfortunately, he did not have a chance to carry that momentum into the last three games of the year. Johnson suffered a season-ending ACL tear in practice during the next week.

Go Gophers! Roland Johnson
Go Gophers!
Johnson played 10 games before his injury in 2012.
Go Gophers!
The defensive tackle, who transferred from Butler Community College for the 2012 season, is back out on the field and at full strength getting ready for his senior year. Johnson's recovery has come a long way since spring practice.

"It's a lot different," he said. "It was killing me to run in the spring. I just thank God, and thanks to the trainers and the strength coaches."

The physical difficulty of ACL rehab is one thing, but Johnson said the mental side is the toughest part.
"You really won't understand it unless you really get injured," he said.

After a major injury, it can be hard to practice and play with the same mindset as before the injury. Even nine months after tearing his ACL, the possibility of reinjury still lurks in the back of Johnson's mind. 

"You always think about it, but you've just got to fight through it."

Kill said the staff has not needed to ease Johnson back into the full swing of practice. He has liked what he's seen from No. 92 four days into camp.

"I think sometimes when you come off a knee surgery like that you're tentative, certainly in stuff like we're doing now," Kill said. "He's looked very good, very sharp, strong. I feel good about us up front on the defensive line. ...I feel good about his progress. He's worked hard. He's worked really hard with our training staff to get back after knee surgery. Hats of to his work."

With returning starters Ra'Shede Hageman and Cameron Botticelli, along with guys like sophomore Scott Ekpe and redshirt freshman Yoshoub Timms, Johnson is in good company in the defensive interior. After a long road back from surgery, the battle for a spot near the top of the depth chart is just beginning.

"I love competition, so that's a plus for me."

What They're Saying - Aug. 5

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Get to know Chris Streveler, who could play QB or WR (GopherSports.com)

#YEAR3 Sacrifice (GopherGridiron)

AUDIO from Practice No. 3: Kill l Streveler l T. Olson l Cobb l Engel

Gophers looking for a No. 3 QB, plus Harbison feels stronger (Star Tribune)

Tommy Olson has moved to center and is competing for the job (1500ESPN.com)

Practice No. 3 notebook (1500ESPN.com)

Three things about the UNLV game (Gold & Gopher)

A fans look at Practice No. 3 (The Daily Gopher)

Chatting with Matt Limegrover (1500ESPN.com)

Come for the dashing picture of Justin Gaard, stay for the Isaac Fruechte and Matt Limegrover interviews (KFAN)


#24 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 24 Marcus Sherels
Go Gophers!
There are Marcus Sherels (24) days left until the Golden Gophers' season begins. At Minnesota from 2006 to 2009, Sherels became one of the team's top defensive players as an upperclassman.

Go Gophers! Marcus Sherels
Go Gophers!
Sherels returns a punt for a touchdown for the Vikings.
Go Gophers!
He originally walked on to the team and played wide receiver before shifting to cornerback. An injury forced Sherels to miss three games as a senior in 2009, but he recorded 51 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions. He added a school-record 88-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Wisconsin that season.

Sherels played on special teams throughout his four years. As a junior, Sherels ranked second in the Big Ten with a punt return average of 11.9 yards on 15 returns. He was second on the team with 11 pass breakups, ranking seventh all-time.

As he did in his college career, Sherels had to prove himself to make it in the NFL. He signed with the Vikings as a free agent in 2010. Sherels played in 16 games for his home state team during each of the past two seasons.

Just like he did for the Gophers, Sherels plays defensive back. And just like he did for the Gophers, he has provided some special teams highlights. In 2012 against the Lions, Sherels returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown. With Vikings training camp under way, he will look to keep that role in the 2013 season.

Streveler "Going with the Flow"

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Since his arrival at Minnesota before spring semester, freshman Chris Streveler has drawn interest from the Gopher football community. Lauded as a talented dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school, it now looks like he might even have a three- or four-faceted game.
Go Gophers! Chris Streveler
Go Gophers!
Streveler will practice many roles during fall camp.
Go Gophers!

Wearing a gold jersey like the rest of the quarterbacks in camp, Streveler has spent most of his time during practice with them. But he has also been catching some punts, and after practice on Saturday he worked at wide receiver. 

Wherever Streveler ends up playing during the season, enrolling early and going through spring practice has helped him to learn the system and put on weight. He weighs about 220 pounds now after coming in at 205, and said he wants to continue gaining muscle as long as it doesn't slow him down.

"I've always taken pride in being a pretty good runner, but also trying to improve on my throwing game is obviously something I need to do," Streveler said.

Head coach Jerry Kill does not yet know at which position Streveler will get the most reps. That will depend on a lot of other personnel, including Streveler's fellow freshman Donovahn Jones. Jones, another quarterback/receiver/returner, did not get the head start of spring practice, but Kill has been pleased with his progress.

"You can't really find out about those guys until about three or four weeks," Kill said.

Streveler does not have a time table for when he might spend more time with the wide receivers. Right now he said he is just "going with the flow" wherever the coaches want or need him to be.

"Whatever helps the team I'm willing to do."

#25 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! Dozier Lohmiller
Go Gophers!
With 25 days left until Minnesota's season opener against UNLV, today's countdown post is brought to you by former Gophers Chip Lohmiller and Ukee Dozier.

Lohmiller kicked for the Gophers from 1984-87. His field goal percentage of .760 is a school record, and he holds the second-best scoring total in school history after Dan Nystrom (No. 25 in the countdown) broke his record. Lohmiller, an All-Big Ten selection, made 97 extra points and 57 field goals for 268 points.

Go Gophers! Chip Lohmiller
Go Gophers!
Lohmiller traded in his 25 for an 8 with the Redskins.
Go Gophers!
Against No. 2 Michigan in 1986, Lohmiller made a game-winning field goal. The following week against Iowa, he booted a school-record 62-yard field goal. No one after him has come near that record, with Joel Monroe's 54-yarder in 2007 being the longest since.

The Washington Redskins selected Lohmiller in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. He won a Super Bowl with Washington in 1991. Lohmiller played in the pros for nine seasons, with a career field goal percentage of .718. He is currently the head football coach at Pequot Lakes High School.

Like Lohmiller, Dozier was an All-Big Ten player. The cornerback wore No. 25 from 2000 to 2004, redshirting the 2000 season. He shares the school record for career pass breakups with 31.

Dozier piled up nearly half of those 31 during his stellar senior campaign. His Big Ten-leading 15 breakups in 2004 helped him earn all-conference recognition. Dozier added 46 tackles and a team-leading three interceptions.

After graduation, Dozier was signed by a few NFL teams as a free agent. He has more recently played for the Chippewa Valley Predators of the NEFL.

Bonus reading: Lohmiller and Dozier were profiled in game program stories during their senior seasons.

What They're Saying - Aug. 4

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Let's talk linebackers (GopherSports.com)

Practice No. 2 in photos (GopherGridiron.com)

AUDIO from Practice No. 2: Kill l Claeys l Murray l Hill l Botticelli l D. Wilson

You won't find QB Philip Nelson on Twitter (Shooter)

Nelson featured in hometown paper (Mankato Free Press)

Why does Donnell Kirkwood have such strong legs? Because at 11-years-old he pulled around a steel sled (Star Tribune)

Linebacker competition heating up (Pioneer Press)

Fall camp preview (WDAY)

Kill on LB Campbell "He doesn't mess around. He's focused. He's locked in and he's really done well." (1500 ESPN)

Claeys likes tall linebackers (Star Tribune)

Another Juco transfer looking to make an impact (FSN)

Kill not concerned about preseason predictions (Sid)

Practice in pictures (Pioneer Press)


Eyes on Sweden: First Day of Camp

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On March 23, 2013, Minnesota head coach Don Lucia was named the head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team by USA Hockey. With Lucia behind the bench, the Red, White and Blue will compete at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2013 - Jan. 5, 2014, in Malmo, Sweden. 

In addition to Lucia, five current Gophers are competing for a roster spot on next year's U.S. squad. Sophomore defenseman Brady Skjei, freshman forward Hudson Fasching, freshman forward Taylor Cammarata, freshman defenseman Tommy Vannelli and freshman defenseman Michael Brodzinski are currently participating at the 2013 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid. 

Next year, the U.S. program will seek its fourth medal in five years including a gold-medal performance in 2013 with Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly on the roster and assistant coach Grant Potulny on staff. As the tournament approaches, Gophersports.com will provide updates under using "Eyes on Sweden." 

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From USA Hockey, 

Day 1 of the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp began this morning with 45-minute practices for Team Blue and Team White. The skate was up-tempo and featured a brief introduction of the concepts and systems that Don Lucia, head coach of the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team, wants to implement for Team USA. Later this afternoon there will be a Blue-White intrasquad game at the Olympic Center's USA Rink.

Fall Camp: Let's Talk Linebackers

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Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said after the Gophers' second day of practice that linebacker is the key position to sort out during fall camp. He feels good about the depth on the line and in the secondary, so the linebacker slots currently have the most question marks.

Go Gophers! Aaron Hill
Go Gophers!
Hill is one of the Gophers' team leaders.
Go Gophers!
One name that is sure to appear on the depth chart is Aaron Hill.  In his pre-camp press conference on Tuesday, head coach Jerry Kill called the redshirt senior "probably our strongest leader on the defensive side of the football." 

Hill has played in 34 career games, and started 11 of 13 last season. He recorded 74 tackles, two interceptions and a team-leading three forced fumbles as a junior. As a veteran of the program, Hill is well aware of parts of the Gophers' game that they would like to correct this season.

"I think the big thing for us is just alignment and assignment," he said. "We had a couple critical errors that cost us some big runs. But I think coming into this year, it's going to be all about alignment and assignment. ...If you're there, you have the best chance to be successful."

Veterans like Hill will be important in making those adjustments, but the Gophers also have a handful of new players who will be part of the solution. At middle linebacker, Kill said that junior college transfer Damien Wilson and redshirt freshman Jack Lynn are in a close battle for the starting spot.

At Jones County CC, Wilson played for former NFL player and coach, Ray Perkins, who played for Bear Bryant at Alabama. Besides the toughness instilled by Perkins, Wilson also had a few years to grow and gain experience before moving on to Minnesota, where he participated in practice this spring.

"Damien has a little bit of an edge in size," Claeys said. "The other is, those kids in junior college, they played against some pretty good athletes."

Lynn is one year behind Wilson, but his redshirt season helped him to learn the system and put on some weight. The position battle from spring will continue in fall camp.

Also of note, Kill said he has been impressed with sophomore linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, another junior college transfer.

Note: Sunday's practice is open to the public and begins at 10:25 a.m.

What They're Saying - Aug. 3

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Football season is here (GopherSports.com)

AUDIO: Kill l Nelson l Leidner

All eyes on the QBs (Star Tribune)

Day One of #YEAR3 in pictures (Star Tribune)

Gophers display more balance, more depth (FSN)

Kill: "We're looking more like a Big Ten team." (Pioneer Press)

Minnesota passes eye test on Day One (1500ESPN.com)



#26 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 26 Mike Rallis
Go Gophers!
One of the most recognizable Golden Gophers in recent memory, Mike Rallis, sported the No. 26 jersey between 2008 and 2012, missing one year due to injury. The linebacker's signature long hair often covered up that 26 until he had his head shaved last year as part of an effort to raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation.
On the field, Rallis started in 48 games during his career, and he definitely had to fight for that spot. Walking on to the team as a freshman, he did not have a scholarship until he earned one during fall camp. The following year, Rallis broke his leg three games into the season but was back in the lineup for the 2010 season opener.

That year, Rallis led the team with three interceptions. He was third on the team in tackles in 2011 with 83, and second in 2012 with 80. As a senior, Rallis received the team's Neil Fredenburg Award for courage and love of the game.

Watch: Rallis' senior profile video from 2012 fall camp

Gophers Open Fall Camp

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The Golden Gopher football team opened season training camp with a Friday evening practice. Fans were welcome to come and watch, and many did on a beautiful day at the Gibson-Nagurski complex.

Head coach Jerry Kill and his players made it clear that they wanted to pick up right where they left off in the spring. Kill also emphasized the fact that every position is open for competition. All eyes were on the quarterbacks today, as sophomore Philip Nelson is working to retain the starting spot and redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner looks to earn some snaps this fall. Nelson and Leidner met with the media after practice.

Fun on the Links

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Go Gophers! Hoops Scramble XI
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
Photo Gallery

Now in its 11th year, Hoops Scramble continues to be a fun outing for all involved, which was evident on Friday afternoon. Fans, boosters, coaches, players and staff enjoyed a beautiful day at Oak Ridge Golf Course in Oakdale, Minn., golfing, mingling, eating and bidding on great prize packages.

Overall, it was a great day to raise some money for the Golden Gopher women's basketball team and to take time to relax and enjoy some fun times on the course.

#27 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 27 Kyle Theret
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Kyle Theret is one of the most recent Golden Gophers to wear No. 27. The native of Murrieta, Calif., played for Minnesota from 2007 to 2010. Despite his comparatively short stature, the 5-10 safety was never afraid to mix it up with bigger guys.

Go Gophers! Kyle Theret
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Theret after the Gophers' first TCF Bank Stadium win
Go Gophers!
Theret ranks sixth on the Gophers' all-time interceptions list. With 10 career picks, he ended his career just two behind the school record held by Sean Lumpkin and Jeff Wright. 

Theret led the team with three interceptions in both 2007 and 2009. Two of his 2009 interceptions came in the Insight Bowl, tying a Gopher bowl record. During that game, Theret also caught a 40-yard pass on a fake punt. 

In recognition of the way he practiced and played, Theret was awarded the team's Neil Fredenburg Award for courage and love of the game in 2008.

#28 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 29
Go Gophers!

Third in our countdown and first in the record books is kicker Dan Nystrom. The wearer of No. 28 from 1999 to 2002 is the Gophers' all-time leading scorer. His 367-point career total is 99 points ahead of the next person on the list.

Nystrom's best known moment, immortalized in a Sports Illustrated photo, was when he booted a game-winning field goal at Penn State in 1999. The freshman kicker secured a 24-23 Gopher upset victory with a 32-yarder as time expired.

Nystrom led the team in scoring each of his four years in the Maroon and Gold. He scored a career-best 109 points as a sophomore, when he made the All-Big Ten Second Team. He holds Minnesota records for field goals in a bowl game (5 in the 2002 Music City Bowl) and career bowl game field goals (8). His 367 points, 71 field goals and 154 extra points were all Big Ten records at the time.

Bonus reading: Check out this 2002 game program feature to find out how Nystrom proposed to his wife.