Football

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Ra’Shede Hageman is projected as a late first-round pick Thursday night.
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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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Minnesota’s nearly 30-year-old football complex hosts three teams come spring.
Publish Date: 
Wed, 04/02/2014
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Gophers punter Peter Mortell caught a long snap and booted a moonshot toward the punt returner during last Thursday’s spring football practice at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex.

The return man didn’t have to move.

Mortell’s punt shtoinked off the ceiling, and chips of plaster floated dozens of feet down to the playing surface.

A few feet away, raindrops trickled through the leaky roof of the complex.

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Minnesota will need its wide receivers to step up next year in order to compete.
Publish Date: 
Wed, 03/26/2014
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At the start of the Gophers’ spring practice a few weeks ago, head coach Jerry Kill said his team’s offense will be much improved next season.

Mitch Leidner is the guy at quarterback after Philip Nelson’s transfer to Rutgers. David Cobb, fresh off a 1,000-yard rushing season, leads a loaded backfield. Maxx Williams and Drew Goodger return at tight end. And the offensive line boasts years of experience.

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The Gophers junior linebacker recorded 41 tackles in his first year with the team.
Publish Date: 
Wed, 03/12/2014
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At nearly 6 feet 6 inches, with dreadlocks spilling out of the back of his helmet, Gophers junior linebacker De’Vondre Campbell looks like touted NFL prospect Jadeveon Clowney when he blitzes quarterbacks.

There are vast differences between Campbell and Clowney, a near-lock to be a top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Still, many think Campbell has the potential to be a first-round pick down the road.

“He has a great future ahead of him if he keeps doing everything he needs to do,” head coach Jerry Kill said.

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