Chris Wipson, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker from Wayzata, committed to Minnesota last month.
Wipson helped lead Wayzata to a 12-1 mark, losing to Eden Prairie 13-3 in the Prep Bowl Class 5A title game.
Gopher Hole caught up with Wipson to learn more about his commitment, upcoming senior season and playing for the Golden Gophers.
Gopher Hole: What was the main reason that you decided that Minnesota was the place you wanted to be?
Chris Wipson: A lot of it had to do with it being my home state and I just felt that I really liked Coach Kill. I really liked the linebacker coach, Coach Miller, and I just thought that the program was going in a good direction and I had a good opportunity there.
Gopher Hole: You were excited when you made the commitment. What is the reaction now? Any change or do you feel even better about the commitment?
Chris Wipson: I have gone over there a few times and I am starting to get to know some of the guys. I feel even more comfortable there now.
Gopher Hole: Are you still hearing from schools now?
Chris Wipson: Honestly, not really. I haven’t heard from any. A few schools still wanted me to go to camp, but I said “No. I just want to stay with my high school team.” I haven’t really heard from anyone after that.
Gopher Hole: What do you see as your strengths as a player?
Chris Wipson: I think that I am a pretty smart player, like an intelligent player. I am good at being situationally aware. I also think I have a good explosiveness and speed and I have good instincts to play linebacker, I guess.
Gopher Hole: What things have you been working on to not only improve yourself for your senior season but also with an eye on playing college football?
Chris Wipson: Just technique and using my hands is a big thing. After the season is over, I am going to be working on my speed a lot more, too and just overall strength.
Gopher Hole: What about your high school team? You had a great year last year making to the Prep Bowl. Unfortunately, you came up just a bit short to Eden Prairie, who you had beaten in the regular season. What are the expectations for the upcoming year?
Chris Wipson: We expect to be in the same position we were last year and hopefully, cone out on top, but obviously right now, we are taking it one step at a time. Our end goal is still the same, to be state champs.
Gopher Hole: You lost some talented players like running back Antonio Ford, offensive tackle Ben Lauer (a current Gopher freshman) and quarterback Nick Martin. What have you seen so far of new guys that gets you excited for this year?
Chris Wipson: We have a few key players from last year’s team coming back that have looked really good and improved. There is definitely some young guys that are coming in and stepping u. We are really excited about our junior class. We have got a lot of good athletes, especially in the defensive backfield. We have some quick guys flying around that have been really exciting to watch.
Gopher Hole: Running back Mitch Underhill had a big game in the 2010 Prep Bowl, but suffered a serious knee injury last season. How is he doing?
Chris Wipson: We are still kind of taking it slow with him, but when he has gotten reps, he looked great. He should have a big year. We are expecting to have a really big year this year.
Gopher Hole: You are a captain this season. Is that something you like being more of a leader this year with a lot of good players graduating?
Chris Wipson: Definitely. We had Ryan Poppitz, who was our defensive leader last year and he got hurt in the playoffs, so I kind of took over as the leader of the defense. This year, I have just tried to be the best leader I can and I have been in charge of the defense on the field and off the field, setting a good example off the field.
Gopher Hole: You are in perhaps the toughest conference in the state with Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Edina. You played some talented teams. Is that something you like playing the best competition available?
Chris Wipson: Definitely. We really think it is an advantage in the playoffs, playing in such a tough conference. We really enjoy playing against those team every year.
Gopher Hole: Have you talked much about playing up this season in Class 6A? Does that make much of a difference since you are playing most of the same teams in the playoffs?
Chris Wipson: We have talked about it, but we really haven’t changed anything. We are still approaching everything the same. We really don’t think that it makes that big of a difference for us.
Gopher Hole: Do you play any other sports any more or are you strictly a football player?
Chris Wipson: I did play basketball up until my sophomore year, but now I have been just playing football and training year-round for football.
Gopher Hole: Was that tough to give up up the other sports or did you just realize that football was just your main thing?
Chris Wipson: Yes. I kind of miss basketball. I still play intramural, but I have been pretty happy with that decision, too. I enjoy training for football like it is a sport. . I enjoy that, too. I’m not too sad about not playing basketball.
Gopher Hole: Do you go to any training facilities?
Chris Wipson: I train with Billy Welle (who works with Cardinal wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald). I have been training with him the last three and a half years.
Gopher Hole: How much do you think that has helped improved your skills?
Chris Wipson: I think that it has definitely helped. I try to go there once or twice a week and he is a really good trainer. He helps me a lot with my running technique and agility. The weight room at Wayzata is great. We have a good strength coach, Brian Johnson, who does a great job and I think that has helped me a ton, helping me earn a scholarship and getting me ready to be the best player I can.
Gopher Hole: Do you come from an athletic family?
Chris Wipson: No, not really.
Gopher Hole: Where did you get your love of football then?
Chris Wipson: I just had it from an early young age. I just always loved playing and it just naturally came to me.
Gopher Hole: You are currently 215 pounds. Have the Gopher coaches talked to you much about what weight they would like you at in college yet?
Chris Wipson: They are not too worried about it right now. I think that I could see myself getting up to 230, 235 and probably putting on some weight, but staying fast. I think that I can do that pretty quickly.
Gopher Hole: What is your 40 time?
Chris Wipson: About a 4.8.
Gopher Hole: How about your bench?
Chris Wipson: 305 is what I maxed out at this year.
Gopher Hole: Are the Gophers looking at you as more of an inside or outside linebacker?
Chris Wipson: They thought that I could play both, but they want to start me at inside