THAT'S RIGHT GOPHER FANS... practice has started. This morning at 6am I was running wind-sprints at the Gibson-Nagurski football complex... okay, that's not true, but the Gophers were. And so it begins. IT'S FOOTBALL SEASON!!!
Both the PiPress and the Strib (by the way, Phil Miller, welcome to the Gopher beat, you're already a breath of fresh air) had tidbits on the Gophers yesterday and I thought I'd add my own tidbits to their tidbits.
Marcus Fuller is reporting that Ra'Shede Hageman has become a beast.
"Former tight end Ra'Shede Hageman's transition into a load at defensive end amazes even Kirksey, a junior defensive tackle. They both bench press over 400 pounds, but Hageman power cleans 390 pounds."Hageman looks like he could make an impact on the D-line as a redshirt freshman and how nice would it be to see a true pass rushing and run stuffing, long and lean lineman coming off the end. Also, remember when this guy chose to go to Minnesota because he wanted to play TE? Doesn't look like he's got much interest in lining up on the offensive side of the ball anymore.
Fuller also talked to Brandon Kirksey, who will be a team captain this fall, and Kirk is ready to step up and, along with his coaches, expects to be one of the top D-tackles in the conference.
"Gophers coach Tim Brewster said the 295-pound Kirksey has a chance to be one of the top defensive tackles in the Big Ten this year.
The St. Louis native said he's been hearing that kind of praise from his defensive line coach Tim Cross since last season ended, and even more after he was named a captain.
'It motivates me to know that my coach feels that way about me,' he said. 'It's nothing new. Coach Cross and I always talk about it, but it's time to fill the shoes.'"I have loved our defense that last couple of years, and I feel like they got a bad wrap in 2009 because they were constantly playing from behind and having to make up for where the offense left off, but with 9 starters graduating, there's been some concern about them. But I'm getting more and more excited to see how this defense performs. It definitely is lacking experience, but by all accounts they are a more talented group than we've seen the last couple of years.
PhiMill says that Brewster and his staff will be isolating the freshman for the first 3 days of practice in order to give them more individualized attention.
"Freshmen will take the field at 9 a.m. each morning, and everyone else will practice at 3:30 p.m. After a weekend of coaching emphasis on fundamentals and technique, the newcomers will join the vets on Monday as regular two-a-days begin.
'It will help, most importantly, from a confidence standpoint,' Brewster said of his 20-member freshmen class. 'They'll go into the fourth day with the older guys much more confident.'"
Here we go folks. We're going to start getting reporting on ACTUAL football, not just quotes and jottings and conference expansion and realignment and recruiting, but actual football!!!