Vikings superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson had 1,809 receiving yards last season. In NFL history only five others have totaled over 1,800 yards in the regular season, including Cooper Kupp from the Rams who had over 2,000 yards in 2021-2022 counting playoff games.
Jefferson, age 24, starts his fourth NFL season Sunday in Minneapolis against the Bucs. There will be a national watch to see if Jefferson can become the second member of the 2,000 yards club and the first to do it in the regular season. In Jefferson’s first three seasons his 4,825 yards is the most ever for an NFL player.
Voted the second-best player in the NFL this summer by his peers, Jefferson plays for a creative head coach in Kevin O’Connell who, along with offensive coordinator Wes Phillips, devises schemes to get the former LSU star open against aggressive defenses.
A former executive with NFL teams, speaking to Sports Headliners on condition of anonymity, recognizes Jefferson’s extraordinary talents and the coaching staff’s high IQ but is skeptical about the 2,000 yards target. “I don’t see a 2,000-yard season. He’s going to have so much attention on him with double and triple teams. …I know that’s his goal to be a 2,000-yard guy but that’s a pretty high ask, I would say.”
The benefit to the Vikings for all the attention to Jefferson will be more opportunities for other playmakers, perhaps starting with rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison who shows big play potential. Wide receiver K.J. Osborn and tight end T.J. Hockenson can also stretch the field for a potentially explosive passing game led by quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Jefferson’s career high in touchdown passes is 10 in the 2021 regular season (eight last year). Davante Adams of the Raiders led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions last season. You can add a touchdown watch to tracking J.J. this season.
Another topic of Jefferson news is an expected contract extension that could be announced this week. The new terms might be $30 million or so over five to six years. How much will be guaranteed? “That’ll be a $100 million plus, I am sure,” said the source referenced earlier.
Gophers Football In-State Recruiting Update
The Star Tribune published its 23-man preseason All-Metro Dream Team last week. Included in Jim Paulsen’s story were Golden Gophers class of 2024 commits Jide Abasiri, Prior Lake; Sam Macy, Chanhassen; and Mo Saine, Eden Prairie. Who else might the Gophers pursue?
Ryan Burns, the recruiting authority from GopherIllustrated, said one of the names to follow is senior offensive lineman Kene Anene from East Ridge who has verbally committed to Kansas. He interests the Gophers, per Burns, but they haven’t offered a scholarship. “He is probably someone they watch the first few games of tape of. Decide if they want to move on him from there.”
Minnesota is likely to watch tape, too, of Minneapolis North senior cornerback Zashon Rich. “Really athletic kid,” Burns said. “Really, really raw like a lot of Minneapolis North kids are. He’s big enough to be a Big Ten caliber athlete but he’s got a lot of refinement left and if he can show that on his senior tape, you’re going to see some power five schools on him pretty quick.”
Junior offensive lineman Sam Ruid from St. Francis could also be a Gopher target. “He is on a short list for best junior lineman in the state,” Burns said.
Paulsen described Robbinsdale Cooper junior linebacker Emmanuel Karmo as “considered the top recruit in the state in the class of 2025.” Burns said the Gophers are evaluating Karmo as are other programs.
Burns said the Gophers are also watching senior Mounds View slot receiver Tyler Nystrom. “I know he is on their radar for a potential preferred walk-on.”
Minnetonka senior quarterback Milos Spasojevic wasn’t selected for the dream team but Burns said he’s the only QB Minnesota has offered preferred walk-on status to. Wisconsin has done the same.
Mid-American Conference Opponent Eastern Michigan receives a $1.4 million guarantee to play the Gophers Saturday night at Huntington Bank Stadium, according to information obtained by Sports Headliners from the University of Minnesota. Sun Belt Conference member Louisiana will get $1.3 million for playing the Gophers in Minneapolis September 30.
The Gophers’ third nonconference game is on the road September 16 at North Carolina where the Tar Heels will pay a $200,000 guarantee to Minnesota. Next year NC is at Minnesota and will receive $200,000 as the visiting team.
Gophers’ kicker Dragan Kesich and safety Tyler Nubin were honored by the Big Ten today for their performances in last week’s 13-10 victory against Nebraska. Kesich, who kicked the winning field goal in the game’s closing minutes is Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. Nubin, who had two interceptions including one in the fourth quarter that helped Minnesota’s comeback from a 10-3 deficit, is Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
The Gophers used three of their top four running backs against Nebraska. Not playing was redshirt freshman Zach Evans who impressed in his one game last season, rushing six times for 29 yards and a touchdown against Northwestern. “He’s (Zach) doing good, but this is all about competition,” Gophers’ coach P.J. Fleck said about Evans. “I don’t make the depth charts. The players make the depth charts. I just pick who played best. Just because you did something one year, doesn’t mean you’re going to be there the next year. We keep adding talent, and you gotta go out there and perform. We have full trust in him when he gets out there and gets his opportunity.”
MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park pointed out yesterday that amazing Twins rookie Royce Lewis, who delivers in the biggest of moments at the plate, not only has hit three grand slams in the span of eight games, but four of his 13 career home runs have come with the bases loaded.
The Twins have won three of their last four games, including last night’s wild 20-6 victory over the Guardians in Cleveland. Former manager Tom Kelly once said momentum was as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.
Saint John’s is the No. 4 ranked team nationally in the latest D3football.com poll, moving up two spots since last week. MIAC rival Bethel is No. 16.
The Johnnies had a dramatic win in their opening game last Saturday against Trinity (Texas). Trailing 31-14 in the fourth quarter, Saint John’s scored the game’s final 20 points in a 34-31 overtime win over then-No. 4 ranked Trinity in Collegeville.
Twin Cities TV sports anchors Mike Max, Dawn Mitchell, Joe Schmit and Reggie Wilson will talk about the changing role of local television sports on Tuesday, September 26 at the Capital Club breakfast at Mendakota Country Club. More information about the Capital Club is available from Patrick Klinger, firstname.lastname@example.org comment