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Friday, April 29, 2011


Jeff Reinke

The 2011 National Football League Draft started with the first round selections taking place Friday night.

While those who follow the Minnesota Vikings were left to ponder whether Christian Ponder was right or wrong with the twelfth overall pick, for some it led to a question such as "when was the last time a Minnesota State (or if you come from a different era - Mankato State) was selected in the NFL Draft?"

While he's not one to dwell on the import of such things, Jeff Reinke is a person who can shed some light on the subject.

An All-North Central Conference offensive lineman as a senior for the Mavericks in 1985, Reinke was selected in the tenth round (275th overall) by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1986 NFL Draft and as such, owns the distinction as the last MSU player to have picked in the NFL Draft.

A native of Sacred Heart, Minn., and now living with his family in New Prague, where he runs his own small welding business, Reinke is one of three former MSU players to have been taken in the annual NFL lottery.  Tight end Bob Bruer, who went on to play five years with the Vikings, was picked by the Houston Oilers in the ninth round (221st overall) by the Houston Oilers in 1976 and defensive lineman Phil Driscoll went to the Miami Dolphins in the 11th round (279th overall) in the 1980 draft.

Reinke, who was drafted and played in the NFL as a defensive lineman, also saw action with Cincinnati in 1987.

"I had been told that I would go a little higher in the draft then I did, so I remember being disappointed on draft day," recalled Reinke.  "But once I got the call, which I think came around 10:00 p.m. that night, it was pretty cool.  I believe we went over to the Albatross to celebrate."

Things happened fairly quickly following that, said the former Maverick lineman. "They brought us to Los Angeles for physicals and then after mini-camp it wasn't long before camp started."

Reinke went to a Raiders team that, while loaded with familiar names such as Lyle Alzado, Marcus Allen, Howie Long, Matt Millen and Jim Plunklett, was a few years removed from the Super Bowl-winning teams from 1981 and 1984.  He then spent the 1987 campaign with the Cincinnati Bengals which went 4-11-0 and finished fourth in the AFC Central.

"Yes, it's something that I'm proud of," said Reinke.  "But to tell you the truth, it's not something I think of a whole lot.  The people who know me will tell you that I'm not one to talk about those things."

Reinke's son, Jay, is continuing on the family football tradition and was a freshman with Bemidji State this past fall.  An AP All-State selection as a high school senior at New Prague, Jay, like his dad, is a defensive lineman.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Every Mile a Memory

Country music recording artist Dierks Bentley is in Mankato and performs at the Verizon Wireless Center tonight.

Before he performs tonight however, Bentley spent about an hour and half scrimmaging at All Seasons Arena with a few members of the Minnesota State men's and women's hockey teams, along with some local senior amateur players earlier this afternoon.

Bentley, who is from Phoenix but now resides in Nashville, has written or co-written many of his hit songs, including "What Was I Thinkin' and My Last Name."   Bitten by the hockey bug a few years ago when he moved to Nashville, Bentley plays rec league hockey and was profiled in 2009 on the Nashville Predators website.  The story appears here.

MSU presented Bentley and Dan Hochhalter, a White Bear Lake, Minn., native who plays fiddle in Bentley's band, with Maverick hockey sweaters.

Here's what Dierks had to say following the scrimmage:

It's great to be a Maverick!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On the Inside

An email from one of our athletic communications alums - Mike Vail - regarding former Minnesota State players in the Arena Football League spurred this post.

Dating back to the early 1970's MSU has had a handful of former football players play in the various professional football leagues including Kreg Kapitan (went to camp with Minnesota in the NFL 1972-73 and played with Calgary in the CFL), Marty Kranz (went to camp with the Chicago Bears in 1974 and 1975) and Bob Bruer (after getting drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1975, he played with the Chicago Bears in 1976, Saskatchewan of the CFL in 1978 and 1979 and the Vikings from 1980-84).  Then, the following years saw a number of players accept invitations to camps with NFL teams with some playing in the CFL before receiver Tywan Mitchell had a couple of years of action with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals from 2000-2002.  Offensive lineman Adrian Battles won a Super Bowl ring this year as a practice squad member of the Green Bay Packers.

In the last decade, several former Mavericks have continued playing on the gridiron following their collegiate careers by hooking up with teams in the AFL2 and the UIFL in the indoor professional football ranks.

A recent gander of the current rosters of teams in the Arena Football League produced the names of two former Mavericks. End Colin Bryant, who played for MSU 1999-2000 under the guidance of Dan Runkle,  is a member of the Tulsa Talons.  Speedster Kelvin Rogers, who holds MSU records for career punt and kick-off return yards and played for the Mavericks from 2006-09, is toiling as a defensive back/wide receiver with the Milwaukee Mustangs.  The AFL regular-season schedule runs from April until the end of July.

It's great to be a Maverick!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Grass is Always Green

We can actually see the grass.

There's still some remnants of this past winter lingering with pockets of snow here and there and the digital thermometer in the kitchen read 31 degrees this morning.  But for the most part, we've moved on.

The winter sport seasons are officially in the books, spring football is in full swing and we've actually hosted baseball and softball games here in Mankato.

The Maverick baseball team suffered a bit of a set-back last weekend with eighth-rated St. Cloud State taking three of four games in a NSIC series played in Mankato Friday and Saturday. To say that doesn't happen very often might be a bit of an understatement.  The last time an opponent took three of four games from the Mavericks at the MSU Baseball complex in a conference home series prior to this weekend was in 2008 when Nebraska Omaha accomplished the feat. Before that was in 2003 when Nebraska Omaha won all four games vs. MSU in Mankato.  There's still a lot of the schedule left, though, so we don't see our guys fretting too much.  And, just a reminder, the Mavericks, who are the defending league regular-season, post-season and regional champions, are scheduled to host the 2011 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament at Franklin Rogers Park May 11-14.

As evidenced by a program best-ever start at 27-4, Lori Meyer has her Maverick softballers in fine form.  Ranked eighth in the nation and 4-0 in NSIC play, MSU has won 11 of its last 12 games, but with 22 games to play before the conference tournament, still a ways to go here. Winona State is rated 11th and Augustana is 20th.  Concordia (Minn.), currently ranked fourth in the region, looks also to be a factor and the fifth-rated team in the region (MSU is first in the region, Winona State second, Augustana third, Concordia fourth) is the defending regional champion from Metro State (Colo.).

The men's golf team will attempt to claim its third consecutive NSIC golf crown this weekend with the final three rounds of the five-round league tournament taking place at The Jewel in Lake City. At this point it looks like a two-horse race with the Mavericks owning a one-stroke edge over St. Cloud State at the top of the team leader board.  Concordia stands in third place, 22 strokes back of the Mavericks.

The MSU women's golf team has a couple of invitational tournaments to play prior to the concluding rounds of the league tourney, which is scheduled for April 23-24 in Brandon, S.D.  The Mavericks stand 49 strokes off the pace set by first-place Augustana, so have some work to do.   Nick Campa's charges are attempting to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive season and are coming off an 11th-place finish at last year's national championship tournament.

The Maverick Walk for Women's Scholarships is this weekend.  A great event that's experienced growth every year and provides funding for MSU's female student-athletes.

That's about if for now.  And, oh by the way, just got a text from Matt Magers.  Our baseball games vs. Concordia WILL be played in St Paul tomorrow (Wednesday), as scheduled.

It's great to be a Maverick!