Tragedy and near-tragedy in week 3

A player on Jerry Kill’s former team was shot and seriously hurt; one of Minn.’s top recruits was hit in the head with a boulder.

Coach Jerry Kill yells at Freshman Sean Ferguson over an offsides call during practice Saturday at the TCF Bank Stadium.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Coach Jerry Kill yells at Freshman Sean Ferguson over an offsides call during practice Saturday at the TCF Bank Stadium.

by Samuel Gordon

An unusual set of circumstances confronted the Gophers football team this past week.

MinnesotaâÄôs Mr. Football and Gophers recruit Peter Westerhaus of Holy Family Catholic High School was struck in the head by a boulder last Tuesday while hiking with his family at the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The linebacker suffered a hairline fracture across his skull that required 50 stitches.

Despite the injury, Westerhaus showed up to support the team at spring football practice last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.

âÄúIts gratifying to know heâÄôs OK. All I care about is him being OK,âÄù Gophers head coach Jerry Kill said of Westerhaus. âÄúThank God heâÄôs got a big thick neck and is a strong kid, because that could have been a very, very bad deal.

âÄúDisregard football or anything else. IâÄôm just glad the kid is OK. That could have been a terrible tragedy.âÄù

On top of that, Devon Butler, a linebacker at Northern Illinois University âÄî KillâÄôs former team âÄî was seriously wounded in a shooting Tuesday night in DeKalb, Ill.

âÄúAll our thoughts and prayers from me and our staff go out to Devon Butler, his family, and the Northern Illinois family,âÄù Kill said in a statement Wednesday.

Butler was initially listed in critical condition but was upgraded to serious Friday afternoon. Two suspects, Mark Orozco and Richard Van Arsdale, were arraigned Thursday on attempted first-degree murder charges with bond set at $1 million.

Practice notes

âÄîThree players practiced in brown âÄúLophersâÄù jerseys on Thursday, with defensive lineman Anthony Jacobs wearing the jersey for the second time in as many practices.

âÄîFormer NFL defensive lineman Paul Spicer was at practice Thursday. Spicer played for coach Kill at Saginaw Valley State University where he was a two-year starter. âÄúIâÄôve known Paul for a long time. HeâÄôs come up to spend some time. WeâÄôve remained close for a lot of years,âÄù Kill said of the visit.

âÄîSophomore linebacker Aaron Hill had an interception return for a touchdown, highlighting the scrimmage portion of the practice for the defense.