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Brewster boosts Gophers

University of Minnesota head football coach Tim Brewster's enthusiasm has not wavered since taking over for Glen Mason more than two years ago. Brewster was in Alexandria last Monday to help promote his program at the annual Gopher Goal Line golf...

Eric Decker
Echo Press photo by Eric Morken Eric Decker of Cold Spring will be one of the key cogs for coach Tim Brewster this fall as the Minnesota Gophers open their football season in their new stadium.

University of Minnesota head football coach Tim Brewster's enthusiasm has not wavered since taking over for Glen Mason more than two years ago.

Brewster was in Alexandria last Monday to help promote his program at the annual Gopher Goal Line golf tournament at the Alexandria Golf Club. A total of 80 golfers participated in the event, which raises funds for the Gopher football team. It is a team that Brewster believes is getting closer to becoming a top-tier program in the Big 10.

A lot of that optimism stems from the success of Brewster and his staff on the recruiting trail. Players like MarQueis Gray of Indiana and Michael Carter of Florida have highlighted two of the highest ranked recruiting classes in recent Gopher history.

"It's something that each and every year you have to be really good at," Brewster said. "I have always felt like the University of Minnesota was a place that if sold properly you could really do a great job recruiting because it has so much to offer.

"I think you can see how we've evolved. We're getting faster as a football team. We're getting more athletic as a football team and a lot of that stems from our success on the recruiting trail."

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That success has raised the excitement level for this team as its moves into TCF Bank Stadium on campus this season. Brewster called moving back to campus a "dream come true" as he continues to put his stamp on the program.

He has done that in the form of high-profile recruits and by improving a non-conference schedule that has featured a number of easy opponents in the past. Syracuse, Air Force and California are all included on the 2009 schedule, causing one publication to rank the Gophers' schedule as the fifth toughest in the nation.

It will only get tougher as Minnesota adds the University of Southern California to the slate next year. Brewster also hopes to add Texas to the schedule in the near future.

"What we've got to do at this point in our development as a program is get exposure," he said. "You get tremendous exposure by playing good football teams...we've got an outstanding schedule and it's one the fans are really excited about, and most importantly, one the players are really excited about."

Improving the schedule is a part of the process in making the Gophers what Brewster wants them to be - a team that can compete for championships in the Big 10 and on a national stage.

"We want to be the best," he said. "We want to re-establish the University of Minnesota as one of the premier football playing schools in the nation. And to do that we have to recruit extremely well and recruits want to play in marquee games. They want to play nationally televised games. So it's very important, to help yourself in recruiting, to play a schedule that's appealing to the kids."

Brewster has had his fair share of skeptics since he was hired. A 1-11 record in his first season did not sit well with fans after he came in with so much enthusiasm. Now with national champion contenders being added to the schedule, it would be easy for some people to feel like the team is getting ahead of itself.

"Some people say we might be in over our head," Brewster said. "But I don't buy that theory at all. We're going to prepare, and it's our challenge to be able to meet the challenge that the opponent represents."

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The first challenge comes on September 5 when Minnesota travels to Syracuse to open up the season against the Orangemen. The day fans have circled on the calendar is September 12, when the Gophers open up TCF Bank Stadium with a 6 p.m. game against Air Force.

It is the beginning of an exciting era for Minnesota football - an era that fans hope will see the Gophers make it back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1962.

Brewster is done talking about Rose Bowls specifically. What he does promise is a faster and more athletic team - one that he feels people will be proud to cheer for on Saturday afternoons this fall.

"We're going to give our fans what they deserve, and that's tremendous concentration and tremendous effort each and every time we step on the field to represent the state of Minnesota," Brewster said. "That's very important to me. That's all that a coach can ask for is that we're fully committed to doing the absolute best job we can, first with preparation and then going out and playing the game with great execution, great passion, great energy. Those are things that we'd like our team to be known for."

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