#26 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 26 Mike Rallis
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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.

#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
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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
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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.

#29 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 29 Amir Pinnix
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Amir Pinnix spent the first few years of his University of Minnesota football career overshadowed by future NFL running backs Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney. But when his turn in the spotlight finally came, he did not disappoint.

Go Gophers! Amir Pinnix
Go Gophers!
Amir Pinnix
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Pinnix, who wore No. 29 from 2004 to 2007, is the most recent Golden Gopher to reach 1,000 yards rushing in a season. He piled up 1,272 yards on the ground in 2006, the eighth consecutive year Minnesota could boast a 1,000-yard rusher. His season total ranks eighth all-time in the school record books.

He ran for 10 touchdowns and passed the 100-yard mark in five different games in 2006, including a 179-yard performance against Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl. Pinnix ended his career with 2,439 total rushing yards, eighth-best in Gopher history.

#30 Days Until Gopher Football

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Go Gophers! 30
Go Gophers!

As the Minnesota football season opener against UNLV (Aug. 29) approaches, we acknowledge former Golden Gophers who wore the jersey number corresponding with how many days remain until kickoff. Noel Jenke and Lee Campbell, both of whom wore No. 30, start the countdown.

Jenke was a rare three-sport letterwinner, and was drafted in all three. On the gridiron (1966-68), Jenke played linebacker. He intercepted three passes in a 21-14 win against Wisconsin in 1967, tied for the school single-game record. Jenke captained the team and earned All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 1968.

Go Gophers! Noel Jenke
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Noel Jenke, three-sport letterwinner
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He lettered for the hockey team 1967-69. In his one season with Gopher baseball (1969), Jenke earned All-America acclaim. He went on to play minor league baseball and NFL football, and is a member of the Gophers' M Club Hall of Fame.

Campbell wore the Maroon and Golf more recently, lettering in 2006-09. Like Jenke, he was a linebacker and a team captain. Campbell led the team in tackles as a junior (80) and a senior (total). As a senior in 2009, he also led the way in tackles for a loss (11.5 for 29 yards).

Campbell started his senior season with a stellar performance that earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. He tallied 13 tackles, 11 solo, providing key stops in an overtime win against Syracuse. At the end of the year, Campbell earned the team's Carl Eller Award for most outstanding defensive player, and shared the Neil Fredenburg Award for courage and love of the game.

Gophers Wrap Up Big Ten Media Days

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Photo Gallery | Wednesday's Blog

Most of the activity for Big Ten Media Days happened on Wednesday, but Thursday held one final media session, an autograph session and the annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon.

Head coach Jerry Kill, Brock Vereen, Ra'Shede Hageman and Donnell Kirkwood had their own tables for a two-hour media round table. Media could roam among the various tables and interview any player or coach they wished.

A few tweets from Thursday:

Up next was an autograph session. Coach Kill and the Gophers signed various items at a team table in the ballroom where Kill gave his opening press conference remarks on Wednesday. Minnesota's booth included a "Gopher Sports Experience," where fans could put on a football helmet with speakers that allowed them to hear the video playing on a TV screen. A few of the Gophers tested it out. 

After a group photo, the annual Big Ten Luncheon closed the week's activities.

Timeline: Gophers at Big Ten Media Day

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Photo Gallery | Watch: Coach Kill Opening Press Conference | Transcript

Coach Jerry Kill, Ra'Shede Hageman, Donnell Kirkwood and Brock Vereen had a busy Wednesday at Big Ten Football Media Days. Each took part in multiple interview sessions with various local, conference and national media members at the Hilton Chicago. Retrace their steps with the photos, videos and tweets in our media day timeline.

11:50 a.m. Coach Kill starts a series of three short video shoots, the first being with USA Football.

12:30 p.m. Hageman, Kirkwood and Vereen arrive on the third floor of the hotel wearing their suits for the day. Vereen is miked up and will be followed throughout the afternoon. (Watch for this behind-the-scenes footage to appear in August.)

Go Gophers! Brock Vereen
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12:40 p.m. Hageman is the first Gopher to go into an interview. He does two with BTN, including one specifically for "The Journey. 

Go Gophers! Ra'Shede Hageman
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During the TV interview rotation, the Gophers also have their pictures taken.

Go Gophers! Donnell Kirkwood
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1:00 p.m. Donnell Kirkwood sings the "Minnesota Rouser" and does an impression of Hageman for ESPN "College Game Day."

Go Gophers! Donnell Kirkwood
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Meanwhile, Coach Kill addresses the media in the Grand Ballroom. Watch the video below or read the transcript here.

1:30 p.m. Coach Kill and each of the players sit at their own interview table for half an hour, available to answer questions. A few things we overhear:

Vereen on the Gopher secondary: "We made a statement last year, and we're looking to improve on that." He says the defense has shown it can be good, but needs to be consistent on every play.

Kirkwood on the Gophers' bowl eligibility in 2012: "It let us see that we can play with anybody."

Hageman on the bowl berth: "It kind of brings motivation for camp to start. We're motivated to be better and show who we are."

Go Gophers! Ra'Shede Hageman
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Hageman also wants to talk about his favorite foods, especially dishes with alfredo sauce. He says he is "not a fish guy," but would eat a shark.

Go Gophers! Jerry Kill
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One media member asks Coach Kill a question about MarQueis Gray, not realizing he has graduated. Kill wishes Gray the best of luck with the San Francisco 49ers.

Go Gophers! Jerry Kill
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2:00 p.m. The Gophers move on to Sirius XM Radio, ESPN.com and KFAN radio interviews.

Go Gophers! Jerry Kill
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Athletic director Norwood Teague stops by while Justin Gaard talks with Vereen.

 
Go Gophers! Norwood Teague and Jerry Kill

The fellas take some pictures, and Vereen interviews his teammates when they are all done with everything else.

4:30 p.m. Coach Kill does his last interview of the day, going through a TV rotation similar to the one the players had. That's a wrap for the longest part of Big Ten Media Days!

What They're Saying - May 21

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Ra'Shede Hageman: Super Freak (CBSSports.com)

Coach Kill was on the road last week for the #GopherRoadTrip (New Ulm Journal, KEYC and KTOE)

The Man In Charge was also on the radio in Nebraska last week (1620 The Zone)

Cedric Thompson, Derrick Wells giving back to the community, making us #UMNProud (Star Tribune)

Philip Nelson, Mitch Leidner are the coaches during the summer (Pioneer Press)

What They're Saying - May 15

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BTN's Tom Dienhart says no Big Ten team will be coached better than Minnesota and says the Gophers could start 5-0

It's time to sign up for Date Night with Coach and Rebecca Kill. Hurry! Spots are limited (GoalLineClub.com)

Ra'Shede Hageman gives back to the community (@GopherFootball) and could take his play to the elite level this year (ESPN.com)

Offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover opens up about his weight loss (Star Tribune)