From doghouse to penthouse, Ellerson catches two scores

by Brett Angel

Wide receivers coach Richard Wilson approached Glen Mason at a staff meeting last week with a proposition for the Gophers head football coach.

Wilson suggested they give freshman wideout Jared Ellerson some playing time in the team’s final non-conference game against Buffalo on Saturday.

Mason listened, and the decision paid off.

The 6-foot-1 190-pound Ellerson responded with the first two receptions of his collegiate career – both for touchdowns. The second gave Minnesota a 24-point cushion on its way to a 31-0 lead and a comfortable victory.

“He’s really had a good camp,” said Mason. “He’s been working hard. He hasn’t made many mistakes. He earned a chance to play, and that’s what football’s about. He made the most of that opportunity.”

Ellerson wasted no time making his presence felt on the field. The Copley, Ohio, native scored on a 26-yard pass from starting quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq with 10 seconds left in the first quarter. He found the end zone again on the Gophers’ ensuing drive – this time from 18 yards out.

“I’m pretty excited,” Ellerson said in his first post-game news conference Saturday afternoon. “I can’t wait to get home and call my mom.”

Mason said Ellerson had been in his doghouse for making some mental mistakes earlier this year, something he said was typical of young players.

“They weren’t playing me that much in the first couple games, just giving me time to mature a little bit,” said Ellerson. “And I think I needed it.”

If he keeps playing at the level he established for himself Saturday, Ellerson won’t have to worry about getting his share of playing time in the future.

“He went from the doghouse to doing interviews,” said Mason. “That’s how football is.”

And that’s where Ellerson hopes he stays.

Nystrom breaks record

with his five successful extra point attempts Saturday, Dan Nystrom set a school record for consecutive extra points made with 61. He has not missed an extra point attempt since Nov. 4, 2000, at Wisconsin. The old record of 57 was held by Paul Rogind.

Nystrom also added two field goals, which leaves him three behind Chip Lohmiller’s school field goal record of 57.


wunning back Renato Fitzpatrick suffered a separated shoulder in Saturday’s game. Mason said Sunday that the senior is doubtful for this week’s game at Purdue.

In addition, running back Marion Barber III limped off the field late in the game against Buffalo after re-aggravating his hamstring. The injury was evaluated and is not as severe as appeared on the field. His status will be determined this week.