Football

Publish Date: 
Thu, 05/08/2014
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This weekend’s 2014 NFL Draft marks the beginning — the beginning of many young players’ professional careers and the beginning of a quest for 32 teams as they attempt to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of next season.

It all starts with the 2014 NFL Draft, a three-day spectacle that kicks off Thursday night.

Because the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft fell on same day of the final print edition of the school year, the Minnesota Daily sports staff decided it had to at least take a stab at predicting the first 32 selections.

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Thu, 05/08/2014
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The 2014 NFL Draft starts Thursday night. For all the prospects, the long waiting game will come to an end at some point in the next three days.

While the cream of the crop will be selected in the first round Thursday night, most players will go in the later rounds Friday and Saturday.

This year, the Big Ten has a bulk of players — anywhere from surefire first-round picks to third-day gems — who could make an NFL roster.

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Brock Vereen has done everything in his power to drown the NFL draft hype.
Publish Date: 
Thu, 05/08/2014
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Brock Vereen hasn’t watched much ESPN over the last few months.

He’s caught a few games of the NBA playoffs and an MLB game here and there, but he has spent most of his time fixated on Netflix and video games.

A standout defensive back for Minnesota during the past four seasons, Vereen has made a point to avoid all the hype surrounding the 2014 NFL Draft — a three-day event that kicks off Thursday night.

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Ra’Shede Hageman is projected as a late first-round pick Thursday night.
Publish Date: 
Thu, 05/08/2014
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Giovan Jenkins still remembers the first time he laid his eyes on Ra’Shede Hageman.

Hageman towered over other kids as an eighth-grader, and his athletic potential was evident, whether he was dunking a ball on the basketball court or catching a pass on the football field.

“He was definitely bigger than everybody else,” said Jenkins, head football coach at Washburn High School. “He even stood out among our … 10th graders at that point.”

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Jim Zebrowski has developed great running quarterbacks in the past. Mitch Leidner could be the next one.
Publish Date: 
Wed, 04/16/2014
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Jim Zebrowski was always better at baseball than football, but he’s made a living molding young quarterbacks.

He currently serves as the Gophers’ quarterbacks coach, schooling the most important position in football — a position that’s been a turnstile for Minnesota since Jerry Kill and his staff came to Minneapolis in 2011.

Zebrowski has worked with every signal caller since then, and for the first time, he’s found one who possesses nearly every trait he looks for in the position.

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Jim Zebrowski has developed great running quarterbacks in the past. Mitch Leidner could be the next one.
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The 4.5-year-old stadium is in the process of having its turf removed.
Publish Date: 
Wed, 04/16/2014
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TCF Bank Stadium looked like a construction site Tuesday as workers donning hard hats ripped up chunks of turf.

This process began Monday and marked the first step in a multimillion-dollar upgrade to prepare the stadium for hosting Minnesota Vikings games this fall.

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Running back Rodrick Williams missed half of last season after a foot injury.
Publish Date: 
Tue, 04/15/2014
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Rodrick Williams hasn’t taken a meaningful carry in a game in more than six months.

He started last year as part of a two-headed monster in the backfield, but a foot injury in the middle of the season derailed his sophomore campaign.

Williams missed two games with the injury, and by the time he returned, fellow running back David Cobb had taken a strong hold on the starting spot.

It’s been clear throughout the spring that Williams, a Lewisville, Texas, native, is gunning to be the No. 1 running back when the season opens up in August.

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Publish Date: 
Tue, 04/15/2014
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I attended Minnesota’s spring football games in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

I did not attend this year’s. And by the looks of it, not many other people did, either.

I skimmed a box score and talked to people who did opt to spend their Saturday afternoon at an empty TCF Bank Stadium. From what I gathered, this year’s spring game was like every other Gophers spring game in recent memory — boring as hell.

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Rodrick Williams scored the only touchdown during the spring game.
Publish Date: 
Mon, 04/14/2014
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To fans expecting a show, Minnesota’s spring football game Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium likely came as a disappointment.

With an announced crowd of 4,752 fans scattered throughout the 50,805-seat stadium and quarterbacks in green limited-contact jerseys, the atmosphere contrasted that of a normal game.

But the Gophers have been working all spring to ensure that TCF Bank Stadium is packed to the max when the season opens in August. There were flashes of that Saturday, courtesy of running backs Berkley Edwards and Rodrick Williams.

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Damarius Travis was a role player last year but has grown since then.
Publish Date: 
Wed, 04/02/2014
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Minnesota’s secondary will be stacked next season, but that doesn’t mean junior safety Damarius Travis won’t be able to break into the starting lineup.

Travis started only two games last year, and the Gophers’ returning safeties, Cedric Thompson and Antonio Johnson, started most of the games at the position in 2013.

Travis is coming for his two teammates, though, because his goal is to start.

“It matters a lot to me,” he said. “I always wanted a starting role.”

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