Weather Forecast


Bemidji football star Ernie Heifort commits to help rebuild Gopher program

Ernie Heifort addresses the crowd at a pep rally in the Bemidji High School Fieldhouse last fall. Heifort is taking his talents to the University of Minnesota. Pioneer File Photo/Monte Draper

The reconstruction of the University of Minnesota football program is underway and Bemidji High School senior Ernie Heifort Jr. will be part of that process.

After spending the weekend at the U of M and meeting Gophers head coach Jerry Kill and his assistants, Heifort verbally committed to the Gophers. The Lumberjack, who was named selected to the second-team Associated Press All-State squad this fall as a linebacker, will sign the official letter of intent sometime after the signing date in early February.

Shortly after Kill was named the Gophers head coach Heifort met with him and the two discussed how Heifort would fit into the new coach's plans. This weekend Heifort reunited with Kill and also met the assistant coaches.

"Everyone was personable and I really enjoyed all of the coaches on the staff," Heifort said. "I always wanted to go to the U of M because I want to play at the highest level and many family members live there (in or near the Twin Cities)."

Heifort had been recruited by many schools and had narrowed his choices to Minnesota, NDSU and Wisconsin. After this weekend's visit, however, Heifort knew where he was going.

"Coach Kill is very personable," Heifort said. "He was straight-forward with me. There wasn't any smoke and haze."

Kill plans on red-shirting Heifort next year and moving him from defense to tight end.

"It's customary for a freshman to red-shirt so he can mature," Heifort, who will start school during the June summer session, said. "My job next year is to work hard in the weight room and on the field. I know nothing is going to be easy but I'm excited for the challenge.

"Coach Kill said that the kids he is recruiting now are going to be the foundation of what's to come. After visiting with him over the weekend and hearing that, going to Minnesota was not a hard decision to make," Heifort added.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200