Friday, Aug. 7, 2020

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Holmgren Likely to Wait on Decision


Enjoy a Tuesday notes column with news about prep recruiting, the 3M Open and more.

Don’t look for megastar recruit Chet Holmgren from Minnehaha Academy to announce his college choice this year.  While recruits and their families can tire of the relentless contact by recruiters, Holmgren’s father David told Sports Headliners his 7-foot, multi-positional son is unlikely to accept a college basketball scholarship during the fall signing period.

David Holmgren said the most informed decision can be made in the spring because of several factors.  Those variables can include the job status of coaches, and transfers going in and out of programs.

Chet Holmgren, who may emerge next winter as the consensus top recruit in the nation for the class of 2021, has a list of seven schools he is focusing on including Minnesota.  David, a former Gopher, said his son’s final choice will be “more up to him” than it will be a collaborative family decision.

Totino-Grace tight end Joe Alt, who was a top target for Minnesota’s 2021 recruiting class, verbally committed to Notre Dame yesterday. 247Sports national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu had predicted Alt would choose the Irish over Minnesota, Iowa and other offers.

In a story by Trieu yesterday he quoted John Alt, Joe’s dad, that the recent departure of often praised Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle was a factor in Joe not selecting the Hawkeyes.  “He wanted to be trained by (Chris) Doyle and Doyle is gone,” said John Alt, a former Hawkeye. “It fell into place with Notre Dame and it’s hard to argue it.” …

Alt likely is attracted to Notre Dame by a combination of factors including the program’s success in developing NFL linemen, the school’s academic excellence, faith-based values, and storied football tradition.  Alt is close to four-star status, per 247Sports.

Jeff Ferguson, who retired as Totino-Grace’s head football coach in February, knows a lot about Alt and has high praise for him as a person and football player.  “I think he is just a tremendous prospect,” Ferguson told Sports Headliners.

Alt was a ninth grade quarterback, sophomore inside linebacker and last fall as a junior played tight end for Totino-Grace.  In college he projects as an offensive tackle.  His adaptability to new positions has been dictated by more than growth spurts that now have him at about 6-7, 240 pounds.  “He is very intuitive on the field,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson described Alt as an “amazing” young man who is likeable, level headed and focused on football, academics (near 4.0 student), family and friends.

Ferguson was the Eagles head coach for 18 seasons, winning eight state titles.  He continues to work part-time at Totino-Grace in fundraising and while he may coach in the future it won’t be as a head coach.

In March Ferguson’s wife Barb was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She has experienced 14 chemo treatments, with three more to go before a mastectomy in September. Ferguson is upbeat about his wife’s health, referring to the cancer as “treatable and curable.”

Hollis Cavner

Spring Lake Park alum Troy Merritt tied for eighth last weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.  Merritt tied for seventh in last year’s 3M Open, winning almost $180,000 in his home state.  This year’s 3M Open field won’t entirely be known until July 17 but tourney boss Hollis Cavner expects Merritt to play.

The PGA Tournament will be July 20-26 at TPC Twin Cities, and Cavner told Sports Headliners Merritt could do well again. “Good story and good contender,” Cavner said.

Merritt not only knows the course but it’s favorable to the Minnesotan’s fairway and short game efficiency. “It’s a second shot course,” Cavner said about TPC, a layout that doesn’t mandate bombing the golf ball off the tee.

Will Tiger Woods play for the first time in the second-year tournament? “We have no clue,” Cavner said while pointing out many players are delaying commitments these days.

How about paying $1,000 for a club seat between the 30 yard lines at US Bank Stadium for the September 13 Vikings-Packers game?  That was the top price yesterday at Ticket King, per Mike Nowakowski of the local ticket outlet.

Nowakowski said his business is down 95 percent since March and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  While his office is taking calls about tickets for the Vikings and college football, he isn’t optimistic about business returning to normal until next year.

There is no word yet about the Vikings allowing fans in US Bank Stadium for games this year but there are ticket buyers despite the uncertainty.  The NFL has made its intent clear about having a season but that is subject to debate, with or without spectators.

Nowakowski said prior to March there was an increase in interest in Gophers football tickets. “Before COVID there definitely was some buzz after the (successful) season and the (2020) recruiting class,” Nowakowski said.

Condolences to the family and many friends of Lou Holtz whose wife Beth passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.  The legendary Holtz’s coaching stops included the Golden Gophers where he and Beth once were Edina residents.

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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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