Updated: February 28th, 2011 12:58pm
Wolfson: Visit to early workout provides insight on Kill's Gophers

Wolfson: Visit to early workout provides insight on Kill's Gophers

by Doogie
1500ESPN.com

Here's hoping the state of the Gophers football program will be like Charlie Sheen: it'll heal as fast as it unraveled.

Dare I say it: the best news for any Gophers fan right now is that spring practice begins in less than a month.

After talking with numerous people who know new coach Jerry Kill well -- including his coordinators, local high school coaches, high-level boosters and one his college roommates -- I'm convinced that Joel Maturi, Dave Mona, Marc Ryan and others hit a home run.

Will that translate into eight or more wins this year? It won't, but Kill understands that.

That's part of his allure. He's the anti-Tim Brewster. Kill is a no-B.S., no-gimmick straight-shooter.

Put it this way: we won't hear about Rose Bowl turf hanging in the practice facility.

For a future 5 Eyewitness News story, I had the chance to observe last Friday's 6 a.m. workout.

Since January, four days a week -- Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays -- the players are put through strict conditioning drills for an hour, nice and early. Kill, along with his entire staff, is allowed to observe.

Kill's long-time strength coach, Eric Klein, is in charge of the sessions. These are in addition to the work being put in while in the weight room five days a week. They will last until spring practice begins on March 26.

Some observations:

• Any player who messes up a bit more than normal -- shows up late for conditioning or a study hall, etc. -- has to wear a brown T-shirt during workouts for a full week. The front says, "I let my teammates down," and the back says, "Minnesota Loafers." Out of approximately 70 players, impressively, I only saw two such shirts, with one belonging to a defensive starter from last year.

• Receiver Brandon Green, who didn't have a catch last season because of a knee injury, moved well. In a post-workout interview, quarterback MarQueis Gray told me Green has looked good when cutting during throwing gatherings.

• Speaking of Gray, he's a physical specimen. All quarterbacks, receivers, running backs and defensive backs had to run about a mile at the end of the session. Gray was front-and-center on each lap, not appearing winded at all. Off the field, he said he is spending a lot of time watching video of Northern Illinois' offense from the past couple years.

• I asked Gray to name the guys who have been noticeable in workouts. He said receivers Da'Jon McKnight and Ge'Shun Harris, the juco transfer.

• Other players who stood out: offensive lineman Josh Campion, linebacker Mike Rallis and defensive back Christyn Lewis.

• When Klein addressed the team after the workout, he put a heavy emphasis on the word "repeat" and stressed that "to be great, you need to work hard seven days a week."

In no way am I predicting a trip to Pasadena in the near future, and keep in mind, this was a small sample-size. But it is noteworthy that everyone -- including defensive backs Troy Stoudermire (rumors he wanted to transfer) and Michael Carter (same rumors) -- are buying into this quickly. Most important, Gray, the team leader, is all-in.

Other notes:

• Gray currently weighs 230 pounds. His plan is to add just 5 more pounds before the season starts.

• The offensive coaches will spend time with TCU's staff this offseason. TCU coach Gary Patterson and Kill are good friends. In fact, Patterson's lobbying of Maturi is a major reason why Kill got the job.

• After surgery to correct a sports hernia in early December, Rallis said he is 100% healthy.

Darren "Doogie" Wolfson is the jack-of-all-trades sports guy for 5 Eyewitness News and a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Darren | @darrenwolfson
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