AP Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn
The Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-4) football team will head to the Garanti Rate Bowl in Phoenix, AZ on Dec. 28 to take on the Big 12 (6-6) opponent West Virginia. PJ Fleck told media on Monday that he doesn’t expect any deletions from his roster until then, although there are a number of guys hoping to hear their name called April’s NFL Draft.
News: #Gophers do not anticipate any player withdrawals for the Garanti Rate Bowl against West Virginia, head coach PJ Fleck said Monday. There are at least three candidates – Daniel Faalele, Boye Mafe and Esezi Otomewo – who are heading to the Senior Bowl.
– Andy Greder (@andygreder) December 13, 2021
(OT) Daniel Faalele, (DE) Boye Mafe and (DE) Esezi Otomewo all have college eligibility after this season, but opt for the NFL draft instead. All three were chosen and accepted their invitation to compete in Reese’s Senior Bowl on February 2, the premier all-star game for college football players and a week that gives pro scouts a great glimpse into some of the top talent in the upcoming. draft. .
Not eligible or disabled for the NFL
Senior Bowl attendees were probably the highest risk of theft early on. The offensive and defensive lines should benefit greatly against the Mountaineers with Faalele, Mafe and Otomewo in uniform. For these NFL prospects and many other Gophers, this guaranteed rate bowl game on December 28 will be the last time they’ll put their shoulder pads under a Minnesota uniform. Here’s the full list of 2021 regulars who are NOT returning (along with their 2021 snap count via PFF).
- Conner Olson (OL) | 817 Snaps
- Sam Schlueter (OL) | 817 Snaps
- Daniel Faalele (OT) – Senior Bowl | 771 Snaps
- Coney Durr (CB) | 662 Snaps
- Jack Gibbens (LB) | 643 Snaps
- Ko Kieft (TE) | 539 Snaps
- Esezi Otomewo (DE) – Senior bowl | 478 Snaps
- Boye Mafe (DE) – Senior bowl | 435 shots
- Nyles Pinckney (DT) | 433 Snaps
- Micah Dew-Treadway (DT) | 335 Snaps
- Justus Harris (CB) | 390 Snaps
- Phillip Howard (CB) | 154 shots
- Val-Martin (DT) | 152 shots
Ciarrocca is reconstituted
While the start list may seem long, there are still plenty of returning fans to get excited about.
First of all, it is (RB) Mohamed Ibrahim who announced his return for 2022. His decision was logical because, beyond a desire to retake the field with a Gopher uniform, Mo must prove that he can still be an effective running back for scouts to the next level after spending 2021 on the sidelines with a leg injury.
Then it was (QB) Tanner Morgan who announced that he would return one last season as well. hoping to regain a shadow of his old form from 2019. A return to his old self became much more possible when it was announced that Morgan’s 2019 offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca was returning to Dinkytown as Gophers 2022 OC.
(WR) Chris Autman-Bell was next. After a disappointing 2021 season that could be mostly blamed on injuries and offensive game plans that too often hated pitching football, CRAB has also announced its return. The hope must be that Morgan and the passing game will have more life and present him as Ciarrocca once did with Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson.
– (@chrisautmanbell) December 10, 2021
Others are coming back
Heading into the 2021 season, it was unlikely that any of the above three major attacking figures would still be on the Minnesota Gophers’ football roster in 2022. But due to injuries and a Disappointing passing game, all three will be back in brown and gold next year. And these aren’t the only important players who have chosen to return.
Today All Big Ten Center (2nd and 3rd teams) John Michael-Schmitz announced he is joining the comeback night, a big deal for the Gophers OL and fans who are hoping the offense can be more explosive next season. Here is the complete list of senior and super senior contributors who have announced their return for 2022.
- John Michael-Schmitz (C) | 816 Snaps
- Tanner Morgan (QB) | 754 Snaps
- Chris Autman-Bell (WR) | 475 Snaps
- Brevyn Spann-Ford (TE) | 419 Snaps
- Thomas Rush (LB) | 385 Snaps
- Terell Smith (CB) | 280 Snaps
- Axel Ruschmeyer (G) | 213 Snaps
- Mohamed Ibrahim (RB) | 49 shots
– John Michael Schmitz (@ jmschmitz1999) December 13, 2021
Some major 2021 contributors have yet to announce their plans for the next 2022 football season. Blaise Andries is among those undecided. He’s been in the Minnesota Gophers offensive line for a few years.
Mariano Sori-Marin and Jordan Howden were two defensemen placed in the limelight after Thomas Barber and Antoine Winfield Jr went to the NFL after the 2019 season. But 2020 has been cut short by COVID-19 and Howden and Sori-Marin have had some evil, as well as the whole defense of Gopher. But after a rebound in 2021, neither player has decided if he will return for his final season of eligibility.
- Blaise Andries (OL) | 758 Snaps
- Jordan Howden (DB) | 601 Snaps
- Mariano Sori-Marin (LB) | 569 Snaps
- Matthew Trickett (K)
Transfer of portal losses
Losing players on the transfer portal is part of college football business these days. It has become easy for disgruntled players to jump into the portal and find a new location. The NCAA needed free agency for a while and now they have one.
PJ Fleck and the Gophers suffer losses on the Transfer Portal, like every other school in the country. So far, they have lost ten. Many of them had not yet contributed significantly, but they were expected to eventually do.
The biggest name, so far, has to be Zack Annexstad, who started as Minnesota QB before Tanner Morgan. He wasn’t the only QB replacement to announce his departure after the No.2 decided to return.
- Curtis Dunlap (G) | 218 Snaps
- MJ Anderson (DE) | 176 shots
- Brady Boyd (WR) – 170 shots
- Rashod Cheney (DT) | 40 shots
- James Gordon (LB) | 21 shots
- Cam Wiley (RB) | 17 shots
- Zack Annexstad (QB) | 7 shots
- Jacob Clark (QB)
Transfer portal earnings
The Gophers have removed a player from the transfer portal so far for the 2022 season and he’s someone who should contribute immediately. His name is Ryan Stapp and he is an outstanding cornerback from Abilene Christian University at FCS level. Read more about Stapp in the blog I wrote about him yesterday.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan