Gophers Still Have A Pulse

Minnesota's <b>James Laurinaitis</b> gave the University of Minnesota his verbal commitment before the start of the 2004 season. One of the big reasons for his commitment to the Gophers was defensive coordinator Greg Hudson. With Hudson now the head coach at Eastern Carolina, that opened the door for Laurinaitis to weigh his options.

"This is the one time in my life where I get to be selfish," James Laurinaitis told

"I'm going to do what's best for me. I was told by the people at the U of M (Minnesota) that I shouldn't worry, that coach Hudson wasn't going anywhere.

"The very next day, I see in the paper that Coach Hudson is the new coach at Eastern Carolina.

"Coach Hudson was one of the main reasons for my commitment. He reminded me a lot of my father. Coach (Gordon) Shaw was another reason I committed to Minnesota.

"Coach Hudson had to do what was best for him and his family. I'm going to do what's best for me."

Laurinaitis, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker from Plymouth (Wayzata) was named Mr. Football in Minnesota this year. He had 193 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Laurinaitis visited Ohio State this past weekend and now the Gophers have their work cut out for them this weekend.

"When Ohio State called and offered, I was thrilled to say the least." Laurinaitis said.

"Ohio State is a major, national power. Ohio State is one of the most recognizable football powers in the United States.

"My official visit was amazing. It was overwhelming to say the least. Chad Hoobler was my host.

"The facilities, the coaches, the players and the campus were incredible. I couldn't get over the stadium.

"Watching A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter flying around the field was awesome. It made me want to be their teammate and not an opponent." Laurinaitis is going to visit Minnesota with an open mind this weekend.

"I'm going to show Minnesota some respect. [Gopher defensive back] Dom Barber is a friend of mine and I want to get the chance to talk to him.

"Ohio State is my leader right now. I'm going to visit Minnesota this weekend and when I have things sorted out, I'll make a decision."

Besides being named Mr. Football in Minnesota, Laurinaitis was named all-state, all-metro and all-conference.

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