Walk-ons could make difference in recruiting
New Minnesota Golden Gopher head coach Jerry Kill has made recruiting preferred walk-ons and walk-ons a priority to help build his team. Kill had 11 players on the 2010 Northern Illinois depth chart who were former walk-ons and he is expected to carry that success at Minnesota. One-time walk-ons such as Mike and Marcus Sherels, Ben Kuznia, Mike Rallis, Joel Monroe, Nick and Jeff Tow-Arnett and Jon Hoese have emerged as key Minnesota players in recent years.
The Golden Gophers have announced five preferred walk-ons as part of his first recruiting class. Regular walk-on students will have to be admitted to the university first and then join the team in the fall.
The following is a look at the preferred walk-ons that will be joining the Golden Gopher football team.
Jon Christenson, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound tackle from Minnetonka (Minn.) High, led the Skippers to a 5-5 mark, losing to Eden Prairie 45-20 in the second round of the Class 5a, Section 6 playoffs. He was named co-offensive MVP at the Gopher Big Man Camp and won the "Tug of War" event this summer. Christenson is also one of the state's top student-athletes with a 4.0 GPA.
Ernie Heifort, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior linebacker/tackle from Bemidji (Minn.) High, will play a new position, tight end in college. Heifort helped lead the Lumberjacks to a 9-2 mark this season, losing to Rogers in the Class 4A quarterfinals. He had 134 tackles with 50 solo tackles and 84 assists. Heifort finished with three sacks, nine tackles for loss, ten hurries, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Heifort led the state in tackles with 179 as a junior,
Peter Mortell, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound punter from Green Bay (Wisc.) Notre Dame Academy, was named first team Wisconsin Football Coaches Association. He was also a unanimous selection first team Fox River Classic All-Conference as a punter and second team wide receiver pick as a senior as he helped lead the Tritons to a 5-5 mark. Mortell is playing in the state's All-Star game in July at Oshkosh.
David Platner, a 6-foot, 160-pound kicker from Eden Prarie (Minn.) High, helped lead the Eagles to an 11-1 mark, losing to Brainerd 14-10 in the Class 5A State Tournament quarterfinals, where he made a 29-yard field goal and extra point. Platner is a two-sport athlete who is also on the track and field team at Eden Prairie.
Luke Trucilla, a 6-foot, 186-pound wide receiver/safety from Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep School, led the Ramblers to a 9-4 mark, losing to Bishop McDevitt 24-21 in the Class AAA state semifinals. He finished 32 receptions for 366 yards and five touchdowns on offense and had 91 tackles, three inceptions, 2