By: Chris Monter
Kristen Hoskins, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior wide receiver from Alexandria (MN) High, became the first in-state Gopher football commit when he verballed to Minnesota Friday.
GopherHole caught up with Hoskins Sunday to learn the latest on his commitment.
GopherHole: I had originally planned on calling you Saturday after we texted Friday, but that was before your basketball game against Brainerd (an 86-80 loss for the previously unbeaten Alexandria squad) Friday night, so I thought that I would give you an extra day.
Kristen Hoskins: The game didn’t go as planned. There was a lot of stuff on my mind. Might have been why we lost, but we are 10-1.
GopherHole: How pleased are you with how well you guys have been playing in basketball this year?
Kristen Hoskins: Man, we are playing really good basketball. A lot of good chemistry going on. I feel like we needed this loss, just to show us that any team can beat us and we just have to work hard coming up.
GopherHole: You guys are wearing masks while playing basketball. How hard is that?
Kristen Hoskins: It’s not hard at all, I must say. I don’t really get as tired.
GopherHole: Obviously, Friday was a big day. You committed to Minnesota. What was the main reason that you decided that Minnesota was where you want to play college football?
Kristen Hoskins: I truly want to stay home. I want my mom to watch me. I want my family, friends and I am a Gopher fan, so it is definitely something that I want to be a part of.
GopherHole: What is recruitment like during COVID? Obviously, pre-COVID you probably would have gone to a lot of games this past fall, gone down to the campus and probably have gone to some camps last summer. What is it like without all those things?
Kristen Hoskins: Man, it was truly stressful. I had to Google a lot of the information that I needed or wanted. Searched a lot of YouTube videos. I didn’t have as many virtual tours, but the ideas that I had with colleges that I was interested in, I kind of talked to some of the players and they gave me a little spiel of what is going on. It was stressful, but it was still decent.
GopherHole: I know that you just committed, but do you already feel a little bit of weight off your shoulders?
Kristen Hoskins: Man, I feel so much more better. Just knowing that I’m committed. I’m a Gopher now. I can’t wait, honestly. Focus on school and just sports now.
GopherHole: Did you get a chance to watch the Gophers that much this past fall?
Kristen Hoskins: I watched a few of their games. I wasn’t watching as many, but I remember last year when I went to a game against Penn State and it was just crazy.
GopherHole: Did that really make you appreciate what college football could be like with the fan excitement and Penn State was a good team and Minnesota was undefeated at the time. It was a great atmosphere. Did that make you think that this could be me down the road?
Kristen Hoskins: Yes and another thing is my coach actually took me down there, Zack Witt, and he was like “Can you see yourself playing down here and is this something that you want to be part of,” and my eyes were just lit up and I’m like I can definitely see myself playing here. Something special here. Something that I want to be a part of. I have always had the Gophers on my mind.
GopherHole: You had four other offers from Iowa State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa. What other schools were you hearing from?
Kristen Hoskins: Nebraska. I stayed in touch with their coach. They were actually going to offer me the week that I committed. Mizzou. Louisville. I talked to Coach (Gunter) Brewer a lot. There were a few more, actually.
GopherHole: Have you heard from a lot of family and friends since you committed?
Kristen Hoskins: Holy cow. My phone is still blowing up. It is kind of stressful, just looking at every text message and thinking that I have to respond to everyone, but deep down they should know I truly respected it and I appreciate all the support and all that.
GopherHole: Who was the main coach you dealt with at Minnesota? Was it Coach Simon?
Kristen Hoskins: Yes, Coach Simon. As soon as the recruitment process opened up, we’ve always been talking, building a relationship. The relationship has always been there. Finally, a scholarship came in.
GopherHole: Does that help that he was a wide receiver who was from a small town who was highly recruited, but worked hard and was a great player at Northern Illinois and you can talk to him about playing the same position?
Kristen Hoskins: Yes, definitely. I actually talked to him a little bit about that. Him letting me know how Coach Fleck coached him up in college and I thought that was amazing and knowing that he has the knowledge and is an amazing receivers coach and I can’t wait for him to teach me a lot of things.
GopherHole: Minnesota has had some good receivers the past couple of years with Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman, who is expected to maybe be a first-round pick. Does that get you excited about following those guys and what they were about to do at Minnesota?
Kristen Hoskins: Man, just seeing Tyler Johnson stay home and making an impact on the Gophers and making it to the league and being the leader that he was, it truly stands out to me and makes me think that I want that for myself and why can’t I do that.
GopherHole: You are one of the rare players, to be honest, that plays multiple sports nowadays. It seems like a lot of players just concentrate on football or basketball. How much do you think that playing basketball and also running track helps you as a football player?
Kristen Hoskins: Oh, yes definitely. Track and field gets me a lot faster. Just working on my endurance and whatnot. I still have to be really good at track. I really enjoy running track and then basketball. That was my number one sport until sophomore year and then I just fell in love with the sport of football, but they both get me in shape and get me better. I learn a lot from both of them.
GopherHole: How about your past season in football? How pleased were you with how well you played this past year?
Kristen Hoskins: I’m not going to lie, I was a little upset with my junior year. It didn’t go as I thought it would go. COVID got in the way of all that stuff. Our quarterback got hurt and had to sit three games, so we put our receiver there. Definitely learned a lot of stuff and a lot of stuff I can improve on.
GopherHole: Is your quarterback going to be back next season or are you going to have a new quarterback?
Kristen Hoskins: My quarterback is going to be healthy and 100% next year and I can’t wait to play with him. He is like my brother.
GopherHole: Do you guys do a lot of things off the field as well in terms of practicing and throwing the ball around together?
Kristen Hoskins: Oh, yes. We actually lived together for three years. I lived with him for three years. The chemistry. He is like a brother to me. We are just good together.
GopherHole: Who are some of the college and NFL wide receivers that you look out for or try to watch?
Kristen Hoskins: Marquise Goodwin, Marquise Brown with the Ravens. Tyreek Hill, number one, for sure. Those are my top three right there.
GopherHole: I was watching one of your video clips when you hurdled a player. What was that experience like? Was that something you were thinking about trying in the past or did it just happen naturally?
Kristen Hoskins: In the moment, honestly. It was a natural thing. I saw him getting low and in my head, I’m like just jump. Then I just jump, cleared him. I got up and saw the flag and was like “Oh, my gosh,” but that was by far the best highlight of my career. I was just shocked.
GopherHole: Did you hear from a lot of people on that one?
Kristen Hoskins: Oh, yes. It went viral over time and I heard from a lot of people. It was exciting, man.
GopherHole: What are the expectations for the rest of the year in basketball? I know that you are hoping that there is going to be a state tournament that you can work your way to.
Kristen Hoskins: We definitely have a shot at state. The team is just going to keep harder and harder and game by game, but we definitely think we got a chance at state. Just keep working hard and staying humble.
GopherHole: How about for football next year? What are the expectations for you guys?
Kristen Hoskins: We’ve got a lot of new players coming in for football, but it is all a learning process. Everyone will adjust and get a feel for what they need to help the team out in their own way and I think we’ll be good for football, honestly.
GopherHole: What events are you planning on running for track and field this year?
Kristen Hoskins: I run the 100 yard dash, 200 and four by 100 yard relay. My freshman year, since my sophomore year got cancelled because of COVID, I was actually a state champ and that experience was just amazing for the 4 x 100 relay. Those are my three events that I plan on running this year.
GopherHole: When you finally step on the field for the first time as a freshman at Minnesota, what is that feeling going to be like?
Kristen Hoskins: Man, I can’t wait for the coaching, meeting new people, seeing other raw talent. A lot of emotions. I have been thinking about it so much, actually.
GopherHole: What are you guys doing for school?
Kristen Hoskins: For school, we are actually hybrid/in school. So, we are in school and out of school. We are planning on going full-time in March. I look forward to that.
GopherHole: How hard has that been to not see your friends and things like that?
Kristen Hoskins: The whole friends situation doesn’t get to me at all. When I’m in school, I just focus on school. Being in school, is definitely going to help a lot. I learn a lot more in school than just sitting and looking at a ChromeBook the whole time, so I am looking forward to being back in school.