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
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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
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Bowser came to Minnesota as a quarterback, but played several other positions, too.
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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
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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.
 

#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
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Grant wore No. 13 in football and basketball.
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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
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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
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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.