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Gopher Athlete Goes From Playing To Helping Build New Facilities

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- When Joe Bjorklund was a senior at Rosemount High School, the Gopher football team went 3-9.

His freshman year at Minnesota, they went 3-9.

But they've gone to a bowl game every year since.

"I would like to think that I helped build this program," Bjorklund said.

Now a year after graduating, he's still helping build the program.

He just wears a different uniform now.

And he's, literally, building.

"Coach (Jerry) Kill always liked to say you want to build something on a strong foundation," Bjorklund said.

When Bjorklund graduated last year, he put his double major in Construction Management and Business and Marketing Education to good use.

"I'm an O-lineman," he said. "We don't like flash. We like getting down and dirty."

He got a job with Mortenson Construction, and then, found himself right back on campus. He's working on building the new Athletes Village facilities project -- the $166 million endeavor to upgrade the very Gopher athletics facilities Bjorklund so often used.

"Why not?" Bjorklund said. "Why wouldn't I want to bring something to the university that helped me out, you know?"

As a field engineer for Mortenson, Bjorklund's job right now involves overseeing all the concrete work.

"Pretty much anything that the concrete subcontractor needs, they come to me for," he said.

The offensive lineman who made his mark opening holes is now doing so by digging them.

And there's no doubt that for Bjorklund, the project is personal.

"I think about all the younger guys who came in after me, like the freshmen," he said. "And I think about how they'll actually enjoy it and how they'll benefit from it."

So he'll keep building the program, by program's motto, "Brick by brick."

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