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“Crown Jewels” among U Walk-ons

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January 30, 2018

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A Wednesday notes column with the focus on football:

Don’t expect the Golden Gophers to add any scholarship football players to their recruiting class of 2018 when the second of two National Signing Dates occurs February 7. Coach P.J. Fleck has no remaining scholarships but next week expect Minnesota to announce the names of “seven to nine” preferred walk-ons, according to Ryan Burns, the college football recruiting authority and publisher of GopherIllustrated.com.

Burns told Sports Headliners the “crown jewels” of that group will be Zack Annexstad and Max Janes. Annexstad, a Mankato, Minnesota native, was outstanding last fall as a pro-style quarterback at IMG Academy in Florida. Burns said Janes, a tight end and linebacker from Mounds View, turned down four Division I offers to become a Gopher. While preferred walk-ons don’t receive scholarships, they put themselves in position to earn assistance by future performances.

Ryan Burns

It was thought the state’s Mr. Football as chosen by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association in December might agree to a walk-on offer from Fleck but Burns believes Eden Prairie linebacker Antonio Montero is accepting a scholarship to either Rice or San Diego State. Montero recently visited both schools.

Eden Prairie quarterback Cole Kramer, who will be a senior next fall and helped lead the Eagles to the 2017 6A state title, has verbally committed to Minnesota as a scholarship player for the class of 2019. Fleck has stressed the importance of having legacy players in his program, and Kramer is the grandson of former Gopher football MVP Tom Moe who also became athletic director at Minnesota.

Owatonna running back Jason Williamson has also verbally committed to Minnesota’s class of 2019. Burns said Iowa had interest in Williamson and Michigan State was following Kramer.

Fleck and his staff will headline the annual MFCA Clinic April 5-7 at the DoubleTree Park Place in St. Louis Park. South Dakota coach Bob Nielsen will be among the speakers.

Former Gopher football captain Jim Carter said his friend Mike Sherels, the ex-University of Minnesota assistant coach under Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys, has received an offer to join the Wake Forest staff as linebackers coach, and that Wisconsin also has interest in Sherels. Jay Sawvel, who worked with Sherels at Minnesota, is the defensive coordinator at Wake Forest. Popular with players and others associated with the Gophers, Sherels was a successful coach and recruiter who worked the states of Minnesota and Florida during his time at Minnesota.

Word is each player on the two Super Bowl teams can acquire about 15 tickets for Sunday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium but only two are free. The other tickets must be purchased at face value, with a guesstimate the cost is over $2,000 per ticket.

Winning players in the game receive $112,000 each, losers $56,000.

A downtown parking spot near U.S. Bank Stadium that cost $40 during the Vikings season will go for $120 on Sunday.

Dave Mona believes the Super Bowl will likely return to Minneapolis after this year’s game but it will be at least 20 years. Northern sites for the big game are rare and that works against a U.S. Bank Stadium encore.

Mona, who helped establish a top public relations agency and for decades has talked sports on WCCO Radio, was involved with efforts for the 1992 Super Bowl at the Metrodome. Next Sunday he will be the press box announcer for the game between the Eagles and Patriots. Mona has the same assignment for Vikings games.

Vikings public address announcer Alan Roach, who has also worked previous Super Bowls, will be the P.A. man for the game Sunday. Roach grew up as Kelly Burnham and lived in Slayton and Brainerd Minnesota.

The 1992 Super Bowl was the first time the NFL offered the now popular fan experience headlined this year as “Get Inside the Game.” The interactive attraction is at the Minneapolis Convention Center through Saturday as part of Super Bowl activities, charging $35 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under. Fans can experience NFL games via virtual reality technology, run a 40-yard dash against NFL players on a giant LED screen, obtain autographs from NFL players and learn football skills at clinics.

Taste of the NFL, another high profile annual Super Bowl event, also originated here in 1992. Often referred to as the “party with a purpose,” the event has raised millions of dollars to fight hunger in the United States. Minneapolis restaurateur and philanthropist Wayne Kostroski founded the event and still leads it.

Eric Curry, the well-known college basketball referee from Minneapolis, has left his executive position at Sun Country Airlines. He officiated last night’s Wisconsin-Nebraska game in Madison.

The Gophers’ Hugh McCutcheon, a former Big Ten and American Volleyball Coaches Association Coach of the Year, speaks to the CORES lunch group March 8 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bloomington, 1114 American Blvd. More information is available by contacting Jim Dotseth, dotsethj@comcast.net. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

Condolences to the family and friends of Twin Cities native Les Layton who died earlier this month. His career included newspaper, public relations and insurance work. Newspaper employers included the Pioneer Press and Sun publications.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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